City on both banks of the Meuse River in east Belgium; capital of Liège Province; and a diocese (Leodiensis ) comprising Liège and Limburg Provinces, 2,426 square miles in area.
Liège owes its origin to the fact that lambert, Bishop of Maastricht, built near a Merovingian portus an oratory where he was murdered. His successor, Hubert, impressed by the miracles that took place, established his see there (717–718), suffragan to cologne. Liège became an ecclesiastical principality under the German Holy Roman Empire c. 980 and remained so until the French Revolution. Under the first prince-bishop, Notker (972–1008), and his successor, wazo, the cathedral school flourished, "the Athens of the North," until it gave way to the University of Paris. ratherius of verona (d. 974) and heriger of lobbes were literary figures associated with Liège. The Peace of God was introduced into the Empire form Liège (1082). juliana of liÈge in 1246 had Bishop Robert establish a special feast in honor of the Blessed Sacrament, which Urban IV prescribed for the whole Church. Bishops of the 16th century successfully opposed various Protestant movements.
When new dioceses were created in the Low Countries (1559), the bishop of Liège lost half his see but nonetheless promulgated the reforms of the Council of Trent and founded a seminary. In the 18th century the enlightenment made progress; Bp. François-Charles de Velbruck (1772–84) belonged to the Masons. In 1795 France annexed the town and principality. The concordat of 1801 gave Liège its present territory with the collegiate church of St-Paul as cathedral; St-Lambert having been demolished by French Revolutionaries. In 1815 Liège went to the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, and in 1830 became part of Belgium. The city, which in the 16th century had a school of humanities, obtained a university in 1816. The fact that Liège was for many centuries the seat of a diocese and of an ecclesiastical principality explains its riches in churches, abbeys, and convents, as well as the anticlerical feeling of the population.
St-Paul, founded in 969, built in the 13th and restored in the 16th century, the cathedral since 1802, contains the shrine of St. Lambert in gilded silver. The collegiate St-Barthélémy, in part 11th and 12th century, has famous baptismal fonts by Renier de Huy (1111–18). St-Croix, founded by Notker, has a west apse in 13th-century Rhenish Romanesque. St-Denis, with the oldest Romanesque tower in Belgium, has a 14th-century Gothic choir. St-Jacques, rebuilt in 16th-century flamboyant Gothic; has a rich decor and a Renaissance side portal. The palace of the prince-bishops (1526–38), now the Palais de Justice, has an inside court with original composite columns. The church of the Benedictine Abbey of St-Jacques (1015), which was suppressed in the French Revolution, became a parish church.
Bibliography: j. daris, Notices historiques sur les églises du diocèse de Liège, 17 v. (Liège 1867–99). t. gobert, Liège à travers les âges, 6 v. (2d ed. Liège 1924–29). j. paquay, ed., La Collégiale de Saint-Barthélémy à Liège (Liège 1935). g. de froidcourt, François-Charles, comte de Velbruck, prince-évêque de Liège, franc-maçon (Liège 1936). É. de moreau, Histoire de l' Église en Belgique, 5 v. (Brussels 1945–52), 2 suppl. j. lejeune, La Principauté de Liège (Liège 1948). j. philippe, L'Ancien palais des princes de Liège (Liège 1949). j. stiennon, Étude sur le chartrier et le domaine de l'Abbaye de Saint Jacques de Liège, 1015–1029 (Liège 1956). l. dewez, La Cathédrale Saint-Paul à Liège (Liège 1956). p. harsin, Études critiques sur l'histoire de la principauté de Liège, 1477–1795, 3 v. (Liège 1956–59).
Liège (city, Belgium)
Liège, Du. Luik, Ger. Lüttich, city (1991 pop. 194,596), capital of Liège prov., E Belgium, at the confluence of the Meuse and Ourthe rivers, near the Dutch and German borders. Greater Liège includes the suburbs of Herstal, Ougrée, and Grivegnée. The commercial center of the industrial Meuse valley, Liège is also an important transportation hub. It is located on the Albert Canal and on the Liège-Maastricht Canal and is the center of a road and rail network connecting Belgium and Germany. Manufactures include metal goods, armaments, motor vehicles, electrical and electronics equipment, chemicals, glass, and furniture.
The city is modern yet retains some historic buildings, including a cathedral (founded 971), the Church of the Holy Cross (10th cent.), the Church of St. Denis (10th–11th cent.), and the 16th-century Palace of Justice (the former residence of the prince-bishops). The city is the cultural center for Belgium's French-speaking population. It has a university (founded 1816) and a music conservatory. The composer César Franck was born there.
A growing trade center by the 10th cent., Liège became the capital of the extensive prince-bishopric of Liège, which included most of Liège prov. and parts of Limburg and Namur provs. This ecclesiastical state, part of the Holy Roman Empire, lasted until 1792. The strongly fortified city, key to the Meuse valley, suffered numerous sieges in its history. In the Middle Ages, Liège was a leading cultural center with important textile and metal industries.
In the late Middle Ages it was torn by bitter social strife. In the 14th cent. the workers (organized in guilds) won far-reaching concessions from the nobles and the wealthy bourgeoisie and began to take part in the city's government. The episcopal functionaries were placed (1373) under the supervision of a tribunal of 22 persons, 14 of whom were burgesses. This Peace of the Twenty-Two remained, albeit with interruptions, the basic guarantee of the constitutional liberty of the inhabitants of Liège until 1792. In 1465 the city became a protectorate of Burgundy; two years later, Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, abolished the citizens' communal liberties. The citizens of Liège, encouraged by Louis XI of France, rose in rebellion, but Charles forced Louis to assist him in suppressing the revolt and then sacked the city (1468).
As an episcopal principality, Liège remained technically a sovereign member of the Holy Roman Empire after the Netherlands passed (1477) under Hapsburg rule (see Netherlands, Austrian and Spanish). In fact, however, the prince-bishops were dependent on the Spanish kings and, after 1714, the emperors. Liège flourished under prince-bishop Erard de la Marck in the 16th cent. and became a center for arms manufacture. In 1792 the French under Dumouriez entered the city. In the 19th cent., Liège was a center of Walloon particularism (see Walloons), rapid industrial growth as one of the earliest modern steelmaking centers, and social unrest.
In World War I its fortifications, reputed to be among the strongest in Europe, fell (1914) to the Germans after a 12-day siege. In World War II, Liège was again taken (May, 1940) by the Germans. It was liberated (May, 1944) by U.S. forces, but during the Battle of the Bulge (Dec., 1944–Jan., 1945) it suffered considerable destruction from German rockets. In the 1950s and 60s, the decline of the steel industry led to massive unemployment, and Liège was again a center of social and political unrest.
Liège (province, Belgium)
Liège (lyĕzh), Du. Luik, Ger. Lüttich, province (1991 pop. 999,646), 1,526 sq mi (3,952 sq km), E Belgium, bordering on Germany in the east. The chief cities are Liège (the capital), Verviers, Herstal, Huy, and Seraing. The province is French-speaking (see Walloons) except in the eastern districts of Eupen and Malmédy, located near the German border, where the German language prevails. Liège is part of the industrial Meuse valley and of the agricultural Ardennes plateau. Some dairy farming and lumbering are in the province. The leading manufactures include machinery, armaments, and textiles.