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The town grew around the Gembloux Abbey, founded in the tenth century. In the 13th century, it became a lordship of the Dukes of Burgundy and formed part of Spanish Netherlands. The University was founded by Duke Philip II in 1572 as one of its first campuses outside France. It was suppressed during French Revolutionary Wars and reopened by Napoleon in 1808 (with only law studies) before being definitively closed down from 1881 to 1921 (when it had about 600 students). In World War II, Gembloux was occupied by German forces from May 1940 until its liberation in September 1944; during this period almost all its Jewish inhabitants were deported to concentration camps where most were killed or died due to harsh conditions or ill treatment.. After World War II, Gembloux developed into an industrial centre with textile industries and sawmills becoming major employers alongside traditional agriculture-related businesses such as cattle farming for which region is known today for quality beef production .