Utrecht, today the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, was born from a Roman fort built in approximately 47 CE. Following regular invasions by Germanic peoples, the Romans left this area in around 270, and little is known of the settlement until the 6th century, when Utrecht came under control of the Franks. This city was influential over the whole area of the northern Netherlands during the middle ages, and was ruled by a succession of bishops until 1122 when it was granted city rights.
In 1528, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, took control of the 17 Netherlands. In 1579, seven of these provinces decided to join forces in a fight for indepencence, signing the Union of Utrecht. This is viewed as the first agreement of the Dutch Republic. The bishoprics, previously this area’s main form of government, were abolished in 1580.
In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht ended the War of the Spanish Succession, and included the proviso that Spain cede control of Gibraltar to Great Britain. Utrecht gradually became the centre of the Dutch railway network after a railway connecing Utrecht and Amsterdam was built in 1843, and remains today the headquarters for Dutch Rail.
In World War II, Utrecht was held by German troops until they surrendered the
Netherlands on 5th May 1945. Canadian forces entered the city on 7th May and
the city began the process of recovery. Utrecht has grown considerably in recent
times, with the construction of new neighbourhoods and the inclusion of Vleuten-de-Meern,
until 2001 a separate municipality.
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