Brugse Vrije

Bruges, Belgium

Brugse Vrije


The Brugse Vrije was a castellany in the county of Flanders, often called in English "the Franc of Bruges". It included the area around Bruges, and was bordered by the North Sea, the Westerschelde and the Yser river. The city of Bruges was separated from the castellany in 1127. Since then the city and the Vrije were considered as separate customary law areas. The Brugse Vrije was a rich agricultural region. It had its own burgrave, who was seated at the Burg, a square in Bruges, and became part of the Four Members of Flanders at the end of the 14th century, together with the three major cities of Ghent, Bruges and Ypres. The Brugse Vrije sat in the meetings of the States of Flanders.

The castellany of Bruges was founded at around the year 1000 under the rule of Count Baldwin IV of Flanders (980–1035) as part of the county of Flanders. The head of the castellany was a burgrave, who represented the Count of Flanders. The burgrave was replaced by a bailiff in the 12th century. The fief was first called the Castellany of Bruges, but later took on the name Brugse Vrije. In Middle Ages it was divided into Amts.

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