municipality, Antwerp province, north-central Belgium. It lies along the Dijle River, a few miles north-northeast of Brussels. St. Rumoldus (Rombold) was said to have come there in 756. In the Middle Ages it was called Machlina (Mechlinia) and belonged to the prince-bishops of Liege (915-1333) and the counts of Flanders (1333-69). It passed to the Burgundians (1369), and Charles the Bold made it the seat of the Grand Council (1473), the supreme court of the Low Countries. Mechelen reached its zenith as capital of the Netherlands and as a centre of culture under the regency of Margaret of Austria, who held a brilliant court there from 1507 to 1517 and from 1519 to 1530. Since 1559 Mechelen has been the see of Belgium's only archbishopric. Mechelen suffered greatly in the wars of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries and was captured several times by the Spanish, English, and French. It was heavily damaged in World Wars I and II
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