The citadel, the collegiate church and the Meuse
|o Mayor||Richard Fournaux (LDB)|
|o Governing party/ies||LDB|
|o Total||99.80 km2 (38.53 sq mi)|
|o Density||140/km2 (350/sq mi)|
5500, 5501, 5502, 5503, 5504
Dinant (French pronunciation: [di.n]) is a Walloon city and municipality located on the River Meuse, in the Belgian province of Namur in the Ardennes. It lies 90 kilometres (56 mi) south-east of Brussels, 30 kilometres (19 mi) south-east of Charleroi and 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Namur. Dinant is situated 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of the border with France.
Dinant is positioned in the Upper Meuse valley, at a point where the river cuts deeply into the western Condroz plateau. Sited in a steep sided valley, between the rock face and the river. The original settlement had little space in which to grow away from the river, and it therefore expanded into a long, thin town, on a north-south axis, along the river shore. During the 19th century, the former Île des Batteurs (Drummers' Island) to the south was attached directly to the town when a branch of the river was filled in.
Dinant has been enriched by the agricultural opportunities presented by the fertile land on the plateau that overlooks it. Within the town, brassware production is a traditional craft that has benefited from the presence of the broad and, at this point, easily navigable river which has facilitated easy delivery of the raw materials and ready distribution of the resulting products of the artisans' workshops. Another traditional source of wealth is provided by the limestone cliffs overlooking the town, which supported a high-end quarrying industry, producing black marble and bluestone, and whose distribution also benefitted from the proximity of the relatively wide and deep navigable river.
The Dinant area was already populated in Neolithic, Celtic, and Roman times. The first mention of Dinant as a settlement dates from the 7th century, when Saint Perpete, bishop of Tongeren, which at the time had its capital in Maastricht, took Dinant as his residence and founded the church of Saint Vincent. In 870, Charles the Bald gave part of Dinant to be administered by the Count of Namur, the other part by the bishop of Tongeren, which was by that time based in Liège.
In the 11th century, the emperor Henry IV granted several rights over Dinant to the Prince-Bishop of Liège, including market and justice rights. From that time on, the city became one of the 23 ''bonnes villes'' (or principal cities) of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The first stone bridge on the Meuse and major repair to the castle, which had been built earlier, also date from the end of the 11th century. Throughout this period, and until the end of the 18th century, Dinant shared its history with its overlord Liège, sometimes rising in revolt against it, sometimes partaking in its victories and defeats, mostly against the neighbouring County of Namur.
Its strategic location on the Meuse exposed Dinant to battle and pillage, not always by avowed enemies: in 1466, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, uncle of Louis de Bourbon, Prince-Bishop of Liège, and Philip's son Charles the Bold punished an uprising in Dinant during the Liège Wars, by casting 800 burghers into the Meuse and setting fire to the city. The city's economic rival was Bouvignes, downriver on the opposite shore of the Meuse.
Late Medieval Dinant and Bouvignes specialised in metalwork, producing finely cast and finished objects in a silvery brass alloy, called dinanderie and supplying aquamaniles, candlesticks, patens and other altar furniture throughout the Meuse valley (giving these objects their cautious designation "Mosan"), the Rhineland and beyond.
Henri Pirenne gained his doctorate in 1883 with a thesis on medieval Dinant.
In the 16th- and 17th-centuries wars between France and Spain, Dinant suffered destruction, famine and epidemics, despite its neutrality. In 1675, the French army under Marshal François de Créquy occupied the city. Dinant was briefly taken by the Austrians at the end of the 18th century. The whole Bishopric of Liège was ceded to France in 1795. The dinanderies fell out of fashion and the economy of the city now rested on leather tanning and the manufacture of playing cards. The famous couques de Dinant also appeared at that time.
The city suffered devastation again at the beginning of the First World War. On the 15 August 1914, French and German troops fought for the town in the Battle of Dinant, among the wounded was Lieut. Charles de Gaulle. On 23 August, 674 inhabitants were summarily executed by Saxon troops of the German Army — the biggest massacre committed by the Germans in 1914. Within a month, some five thousand Belgian and French civilians were killed by the Germans at numerous similar occasions.
Dinant in 1892, by Jan Hillebrand Wijsmuller
Dinant's railway station is on the left bank of the river. There is hourly train service to Brussels, about a 90-minute ride.
Dinant hosts the Saint-Vincent and Saint-Anne sites (Centre Hospitalier de Dinant) of the CHU UCLouvain Namur university hospital, the provinces' largest employer and serving as teaching hospital for the University of Louvain.
... we have confirmed the official wartime estimates that some 6,500 civilians were killed in Belgium and France from August to October 1914.