The French prince was actually inaugurated duke of Brabant at Antwerp (February 1582) and count of Flanders at Bruges (July), but his misconduct speedily led to his withdrawal from the Netherlands, and even before the assassination of Orange (July 1584) the authority of Philip had been practically restored throughout the two provinces.
An embargo on trade with Flanders, voted in 1358 by a general assembly, resulted by 1360 in the full restoration of German privileges in Flanders, but reduced the counter at Bruges to an executive organ of a united town policy.
Besides going to Aachen for the coronation, he made excursions down the Rhine from Cologne to Nijmwegen, and back overland by 's Hertogenbosch; to Brussels; to Bruges and Ghent; and to Zealand with the object of seeing a natural curiosity, a whale reported ashore.
He had traversed the fertile country of Flanders; he had visited the rich commercial and industrial republics of Bruges and Ghent, which had escaped the disasters of the Hundred Years War; and, finally, he had enjoyed a hospitality as princely as it was self-interested at Brussels and at Dijon, the two capitals, where he had seen the brilliancy of a court unique in Europe for the ideal of chivalric life it offered.
Flourishing communities were likewise to be found in Hainault, Namur, Cambrai and the other southern districts of the Netherlands, but nowhere else the vigorous independence of Ghent, Bruges and Ypres, nor the splendour of their civic life.
The most powerful and flourishing of all were those of Flanders - Ghent, Bruges and Ypres.
Before the year i 180 Bruges was the recognized capital of Flanders, and the formality of proclaiming the new counts was always performed on the marche du vendredi, where the railway station is to-day.
To attack the English through their colonies, Guienne and Flanders, was to injure them in their most vital interests cloth and claret; for England sold her wool to Bruges in order to pay Bordeaux for her wine.
In the 14th century it ranked with Bruges and Ghent, and its population in its prime reached 200,000.
To the north, thus making Ghent practically a sea-port; while a second canal, from the Lys, connects the city via Bruges with Ostende.