Flanders (Ghent & Bruges)
During the fourteenth century The Low Countries (what we now know as the Netherlands plus the northern part of Belgium) had enjoyed an economic boom, which began in Flanders. By the fifteenth century Ghent had become the most prosperous city north of Paris. In nearby Bruges the trade in textiles flourished; it was an important centre for European commerce, the city where Italian bankers had opened the very first stock exchange; and it was renowned for producing exceptionally fine manuscripts. Printing became established in both cities. In the 1470s William Caxton, who had lived in Flanders for a number of years and had worked as a mercer (cloth merchant), set up a printing house, probably first in Ghent, followed by a short period in Bruges.