Hainaut ĕnō´ [key], Du. Henegouwen, province (1991 pop. 1,278,791), 1,437 sq mi (3,722 sq km), S Belgium, bordering on France in the south. The chief cities of the predominately French-speaking province are Mons, the capital; Charleroi; and Tournai. It is low-lying, except in the southeast, and has considerable productive farmland where wheat, grains, sugar beets, and dairy cattle are raised. Manufactures include chemicals and electrical equipment. The province is drained by the Scheldt, Dender, and Sambre rivers and is served by a dense rail network and the Charleroi-Brussels Canal. The county of Hainaut was created in the late 9th cent., and in the divisions of the Carolingian empire became a fief of Lotharingia. Count Reginar Long-Neck made himself master (late 9th–early 10th cent.) of the duchy of Lower Lorraine, which continued under his elder son (see Lotharingia), while his younger son inherited Hainaut. The widow of Reginar V, the last count of Hainaut, married (1036) Count Baldwin V of Flanders, but at his death (1070) Hainaut and Flanders were again separated. In 1191, Flanders again passed, through marriage, to the counts of Hainaut. Baldwin VI of Hainaut (as Baldwin IX, count of Flanders) took part in the Fourth Crusade and became (1204) emperor of Constantinople as Baldwin I. After Baldwin's death the two counties were united; in 1278 they were again separated. In 1433, Philip the Good of Burgundy added Hainaut and Holland to his dominions after overcoming the resistance of his cousin, Countess Jacqueline. Hainaut remained under the house of Burgundy until the death (1482) of Mary of Burgundy when its history became that of the Austrian Netherlands (see Netherlands, Austrian and Spanish). By the treaties of the Pyrenees (1659) and of Nijmegen (1678) parts of Hainaut, including the city of Valenciennes, were permanently annexed by France; they form part of the present Nord dept.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Benelux Political Geography