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In the early Middle Ages, it was part of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, which was confirmed in 910. In practice, the area was ruled by the local Berthout family, against the will of the Prince-Bishops of Liège. The Duchy of Brabant tried to annex the Lordship, but as a reaction, Liège gave the area in 1333 to the County of Flanders. The Flemish also didn't gain complete and permanent control.
Mechelen was therefore later considered as one of the Seventeen Provinces and then as a province of the Southern Netherlands. The Dukes of Burgundy and later the Habsburg Emperors and Kings were personally Lords of Mechelen and for a while turned the city more or less into the capital of the Netherlands. They established here the highest jurisdictional court of the Seventeen Provinces, called the Great Council of Mechelen. Governess Margaret of Austria also held her Court at Mechelen. Later, the capital moved primarily to Brussels.