The County of Hainaut (French: Comté de Hainaut, Dutch: Graafschap Henegouwen) was a historical region in the Low Countries with its capital at Mons (Bergen).
It consisted of what is now the Belgian province of Hainaut and the southern part of the French département Nord. In Roman times, Hainaut was situated in the Roman provinces of Belgica and Germania Inferior and inhabited by Celtic tribes, until Germanic peoples replaced them and ended Roman Imperial rule. Its most important cities were Mons (Bergen), Cambrai (Kamerijk) and Charleroi. Today the historic county of Hainaut is territorially divided between Belgium and France.
HistoryThe County of Hainaut (ĕ nō') arose about 900 in the Lotharingia region, when Duke Reginar I of Lorraine, a grandson of Frankish Emperor Lothair I appeared as a "Count of Hainaut". After the death of the last Carolingian king in East Francia, Louis the Child in 911, Reginar joined the West Frankish realm under King Charles the Simple. His son and successor Duke Gilbert in 925 in turn submitted himself to the German king Henry the Fowler, whereafter the Duchy of Lotharingia remained a part of the German kingdom at the border with France.
After Gilbert's death in 939 his successors from the House of Reginar were not able to retain the ducal title, but ruled over the Hainaut region until in 958 Count Reginar III Longneck, after he had revolted against Duke Bruno the Great, was deposed and banned. The county was then divided, however in 998 the Reginars regained the rule over the County of Mons. When the last Count Herman died without issue in 1051, his widow Richilde married Baldwin VI, the eldest son of Baldwin V, the Count of Flanders and vassal of the French crown. Upon the death of his father in 1067, Baldwin VI became the ruler of both counties, succeeded by his son Arnulf III who died in an inheritance conflict with his uncle Robert I the Frisian at the 1071 Battle of Cassel.
While victorious Robert acquired Flanders, his sister-in-law Richilde retained the adjacent Lower Lorraine territories in the Holy Roman Empire as her dowry. Therebey the renewed County of Hainaut emerged from the refeudalisation of three immediate counties: