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Zilupes Novads Travel on Between 1250 and 1450, this commercial network united northern Europe in a trading nexus that stretched from England to Russia. For a brief period, the Brabant town of Antwerp functioned as the fulcrum of Europe and was a major center for trade, re-exporting and processing, and finance. The reign of the southern Low Countries would come to an end with the Dutch Revolt from Spain at the end of the 16th century. The Spanish armies occupied the southern provinces for most of the Eighty Years War. Facing stricter Spanish religious policies, tens of thousands of merchants and textile workers fled to the independent provinces in the north, leaving the industry in the south sorely depleted. To add insult to injury, the newly formed United Provinces of the Netherlands placed a full embargo on trade with the south and blockaded the Scheldt river, the major artery for ships to reach Antwerp. With the flourishing of the Dutch re- Belgium 85 public, the southern Low Countries were relegated to relative economic obsolescence and obscurity. Zilupes Novads Travel 2016.