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History of Belgium

History of Belgium

Overview
The history of Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, from pre-history to the present day, is intertwined with the histories of its European neighbours, in particular those of the Netherlands
History of the Netherlands
The history of the Netherlands is the history of a maritime people thriving on a watery lowland river delta at the edge of northwestern Europe. When the Romans and written history arrived in 57 BC, the country was sparsely populated by various tribal groups at the periphery of the empire...

 and Luxembourg
History of Luxembourg
The history of Luxembourg is inherently entwined with the histories of surrounding countries, peoples, and ruling dynasties. Over time, the territory of Luxembourg has been eroded, whilst its ownership has changed repeatedly, and its political independence has grown gradually.'Although recorded...

. A feature of modern history is the number of wars between other European powers which have included campaigns on Belgian territory, causing it to be nicknamed "The Cockpit of Europe".


The earliest Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 farming technology of northern Europe, the so-called LBK culture, reached the east of Belgium at its furthest northwesterly stretch from its origins in southeast Europe.
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The history of Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, from pre-history to the present day, is intertwined with the histories of its European neighbours, in particular those of the Netherlands
History of the Netherlands
The history of the Netherlands is the history of a maritime people thriving on a watery lowland river delta at the edge of northwestern Europe. When the Romans and written history arrived in 57 BC, the country was sparsely populated by various tribal groups at the periphery of the empire...

 and Luxembourg
History of Luxembourg
The history of Luxembourg is inherently entwined with the histories of surrounding countries, peoples, and ruling dynasties. Over time, the territory of Luxembourg has been eroded, whilst its ownership has changed repeatedly, and its political independence has grown gradually.'Although recorded...

. A feature of modern history is the number of wars between other European powers which have included campaigns on Belgian territory, causing it to be nicknamed "The Cockpit of Europe".

Prehistory



The earliest Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 farming technology of northern Europe, the so-called LBK culture, reached the east of Belgium at its furthest northwesterly stretch from its origins in southeast Europe. Its expansion stopped in the Hesbaye
Hesbaye
Hesbaye or Haspengouw , is a region spanning the south of the Belgian province of Limburg, the east of the Belgian provinces of Flemish Brabant and Walloon Brabant, and the northwestern part of the province of Liège.The Limburgish portion contains the cities of Tongeren, Sint-Truiden, Bilzen and...

 region of eastern Belgium around 5000 BCE. The Belgian LBK is notable for its use of defensive walls around villages, something which may or may not have been necessary because of the proximity of hunter gatherers.

So-called Limburg pottery and La Hoguette pottery are styles which stretch into northwestern France and the Netherlands, but it has sometimes been argued that these technologies are the result of pottery technology spreading beyond the original LBK farming population of eastern Belgium and northeastern France, and being made by hunter gatherers. A slightly later-starting Neolithic culture found in central Wallonia is the so-called "Groupe de Blicquy", which may represent an offshoot of the LBK settlers.One notable archaeological site in this region is the Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes
Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes
The Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes are Europe's largest and earliest neolithic mines, located close to Walloon village of Spiennes, southeast of Mons, Belgium. The mines were active during the mid and late Neolithic...

. Farming in Belgium however failed to take permanent hold at first. The LBK and Blicquy cultures disappeared and there is a long gap before a new farming culture, the Michelsberg culture, appeared and became widespread. Hunter gatherers of the Swifterbant  culture apparently remained in the sandy north of Belgium, but apparently became more and more influenced by farming and pottery technology.

In the third and late fourth millennia BCE, the whole of Flanders shows relatively little evidence of human habitation. Although it is felt that there was a continuing human presence, the types of evidence available make judgement about the details very difficult. The Seine-Oise-Marne culture
Seine-Oise-Marne culture
The Seine-Oise-Marne or SOM culture is the name given by archaeologists to the final culture of the Neolithic and first culture of the Chalcolithic in northern France and southern Belgium....

 spread into the Ardennes, and is associated with megalithic sites there (for example Wéris
Wéris
Wéris is a village in the municipality of Durbuy in Wallonia, Belgium. The village of Oppagne is part of Wéris.It is well known for its megaliths, including dolmens and menhirs. There is a "Museum of Megaliths" in the centre of the village...

), but did not disperse over all of Belgium. To the north and east, in the Netherlands, a semi-sedentary culture group has been proposed to have existed, the so-called Vlaardingen-Wartburg-Stein complex, which possibly developed from the above mentioned Swifterbant and Michelsburg cultures. The same pattern continues into the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

. In the last part of the Neolithic, evidence is found for the Corded Ware and Bell Beaker cultures in the south of the Netherlands, but these cultures also do not seem to have had a big impact in all of Belgium.

The population of Belgium started to increase permanently with the late Bronze age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 from around 1750 BC. Three possibly related cultures arrived in sequence. First the Urnfield culture arrived (for example, tumuli
Tumulus
A tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds, Hügelgrab or kurgans, and can be found throughout much of the world. A tumulus composed largely or entirely of stones is usually referred to as a cairn...

 are found at Ravels
Ravels
Ravels is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Antwerp. The municipality comprises the towns of Poppel, Ravels proper and Weelde. On January 1, 2006 Ravels had a total population of 13,762. The total area is 94.99 km² which gives a population density of 145 inhabitants per km²...

 and Hamont-Achel
Hamont-Achel
Hamont-Achel is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Limburg. On January 1, 2006 Hamont-Achel had a total population of 13,770. The total area is 43.66 km² which gives a population density of 315 inhabitants per km²...

 in the Campine
Campine
The Campine is a natural region situated chiefly in north-eastern Belgium and parts of the south-western Netherlands which once consisted mainly of extensive moors, tracts of sandy heath, and wetlands...

). Then, coming into the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

, the Hallstatt culture
Hallstatt culture
The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Central European culture from the 8th to 6th centuries BC , developing out of the Urnfield culture of the 12th century BC and followed in much of Central Europe by the La Tène culture.By the 6th century BC, the Hallstatt culture extended for some...

, and the La Tène culture
La Tène culture
The La Tène culture was a European Iron Age culture named after the archaeological site of La Tène on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, where a rich cache of artifacts was discovered by Hansli Kopp in 1857....

. All three of these are associated with Celtic languages
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

, especially La Tène. This is because historical Greek and Roman records from areas where this culture settled show Celtic placenames and personal names. However it is possible in Belgium that especially in the northern areas the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures were brought by new elites, and that the main language of the population was not Celtic. From 500 BC Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic tribes settled in the region and traded with the Mediterranean world. From c. 150 BC, the first coins came into use.

When Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 arrived in the area, as recorded in his De Bello Gallico, the inhabitants of Belgium and northwestern France were known as the Belgae
Belgae
The Belgae were a group of tribes living in northern Gaul, on the west bank of the Rhine, in the 3rd century BC, and later also in Britain, and possibly even Ireland...

 (after whom modern Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 is named), and they were considered to be the northern part of Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

. The distinction between the Belgae to the North and the Gauls to the south of them is disputed. Caesar says that the Belgae were separated from the rest of Gaul by language, law and custom, but does not go into detail. It seems clear that Gaulish culture was very influential upon the Belgae. Linguists have proposed that there is evidence that at least part of the Belgic population had previously spoken an Indo European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 language related to, but distinct from, Celtic and Germanic, and amongst the northern Belgae, Celtic may never have been the language of the majority. (See Belgian language
Belgian language
Belgian is a hypothetical extinct Indo-European language. It was described by the Ghentian linguist Maurits Gysseling - who himself attributed the term to Prof. Dr. S.J. De Laet - as an Indo-European language that was spoken distinct from Celtic in late prehistory, in certain parts of what has...

 and Nordwestblock
Nordwestblock
The Nordwestblock , is a hypothetical cultural region, that several 20th century scholars propose as a prehistoric culture, thought to be roughly bounded by the rivers Meuse, Elbe, Somme and Oise and possibly the eastern part of England during the Bronze and Iron Ages The Nordwestblock (English:...

.)

Caesar reported that the northern Belgae, approximately in the area of modern Belgium, were less economically developed, and militarily dangerous people, similar to the people east of the Rhine river, whom he referred to as Germani. The area was still marked by dense forests, swamps and other types of wilderness. There is also less evidence of large settlements and trade. In fact, Caesar was informed that a large part of the Belgae had Germanic ancestry, and in particular the Beglae living in the area stretching from eastern Belgium to the Rhine were referred to by Caesar as the Germani cisrhenani
Germani cisrhenani
Germani Cisrhenani is a Latin term which refers to that part of the tribal people known as Germani who lived to the west of the Rhine river. Cisrhenane, the English form of the word, means "this side of the Rhine"...

. According to Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

, writing a generation later, these were in fact the original tribe to be called Germani, and all other uses of the term extended from them. It is not however known whether this tribe spoke a Germanic language, and their tribal and personal names are clearly Celtic (as is also the case with tribes across the Rhine from them at this time). Archaeologists have had difficulty finding evidence of the exact migrations from east of the Rhine which Caesar reports and more generally there has been skepticism about using him in this way due to the political motives of his commentaries. But there is a general impression that the Belgae were a relatively stable population with a much more mobile elite.

Antiquity


By 51BC, the Belgae were overrun by the armies of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

, as described in his chronicle De Bello Gallico.
In this same work Julius Caesar referred to the Belgae
Belgae
The Belgae were a group of tribes living in northern Gaul, on the west bank of the Rhine, in the 3rd century BC, and later also in Britain, and possibly even Ireland...

 as "the bravest of all the Gauls" ("horum omnium fortissimi sunt belgae").

What is now Belgium flourished as a province of Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. This province was much larger than the modern Belgium and included five cities: Nemetacum (Arras
Arras
Arras is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The historic centre of the Artois region, its local speech is characterized as a Picard dialect...

), Divodurum (Metz
Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

), Bagacum (Bavay
Bavay
Bavay is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.It lies 15 m. ESE of Valenciennes by railway.-History:Under the name of Bagacum or Bavacum, the town was the capital of the Nervii and, under the Roman Empire, an important center of roads, the meeting-place of which was marked by a...

), Aduatuca (Tongeren), Durocorturum (Reims
Reims
Reims , a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, lies east-northeast of Paris. Founded by the Gauls, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire....

).

At the northeast was the neighbouring province of Germania Inferior
Germania Inferior
Germania Inferior was a Roman province located on the left bank of the Rhine, in today's Luxembourg, southern Netherlands, parts of Belgium, and North Rhine-Westphalia left of the Rhine....

. Its cities were Traiectum ad Mosam (Maastricht
Maastricht
Maastricht is situated on both sides of the Meuse river in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands, on the Belgian border and near the German border...

), Ulpia Noviomagus (Nijmegen), Colonia Ulpia Trajana (Xanten
Xanten
Xanten is a historic town in the North Rhine-Westphalia state of Germany, located in the district of Wesel.Xanten is known for the Archaeological Park or archaeological open air museum , its medieval picturesque city centre with Xanten Cathedral and many museums, its large man-made lake for...

) and Colonia Agrippina (Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

). Both provinces include what are now known as the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

.

Early Middle Ages


After the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 collapsed (5th century), Germanic tribes invaded the Roman province of "Gallia". One of these peoples, the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

, eventually managed to install a new kingdom under the rule of the Merovingian Dynasty
Merovingian dynasty
The Merovingians were a Salian Frankish dynasty that came to rule the Franks in a region largely corresponding to ancient Gaul from the middle of the 5th century. Their politics involved frequent civil warfare among branches of the family...

. Clovis I
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

 was the best-known king of this dynasty. He ruled from his base in northern France, but his empire included today's Belgium. He converted to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Christian scholars, mostly Irish
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s, preached Christianity to the populace and started a wave of conversion
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

 (Saint Servatius
Saint Servatius
Saint Servatius was bishop of Tongeren—Roman Atuatuca Tungrorum the capital of the Tungri—one of the earliest dioceses in the Low Countries. Later in his life he fled to Maastricht, Roman Mosae Trajectum, where he became the first bishop of this city...

, Saint Remacle, Saint Hadelin
Saint Hadelin
Saint Hadelin d. about 690, born in Gascony, was one of the scholarly, mostly Irish monks, who preached Christianity and started conversion work in what is now Belgium under the pagan invaders, as did Saint Servatius and Saint Remacle.He is especially venerated in the Walloon diocese of Namur, as...

).

The Merovingians were short-lived and were succeeded by the Carolingian Dynasty. After Charles Martel
Charles Martel
Charles Martel , also known as Charles the Hammer, was a Frankish military and political leader, who served as Mayor of the Palace under the Merovingian kings and ruled de facto during an interregnum at the end of his life, using the title Duke and Prince of the Franks. In 739 he was offered the...

 countered the Moorish
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 invasion from Spain (732 — Poitiers), the King Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 (born close to Liège in Herstal
Herstal
Herstal, formerly known as Heristal, or Héristal, is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region and Province of Liege along the Meuse river. Herstal is included in the "Greater Liège" agglomeration, which counts about 600,000 inhabitants...

 or Jupille
Jupille
Jupille is a former Belgian municipality. It is now a part of the city of Liège.Jupille is the location of the brewery Piedbœuf , where Jupiler is made. It is also the death place of Pepin of Herstal...

) brought a huge part of Europe under his rule and was crowned
Crown (headgear)
A crown is the traditional symbolic form of headgear worn by a monarch or by a deity, for whom the crown traditionally represents power, legitimacy, immortality, righteousness, victory, triumph, resurrection, honour and glory of life after death. In art, the crown may be shown being offered to...

 the "Emperor
Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

 of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

" by the Pope Leo III
Pope Leo III
Pope Saint Leo III was Pope from 795 to his death in 816. Protected by Charlemagne from his enemies in Rome, he subsequently strengthened Charlemagne's position by crowning him as Roman Emperor....

 (800 in Aachen
Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

).

The Vikings were defeated in 891 by Arnulf of Carinthia
Arnulf of Carinthia
Arnulf of Carinthia was the Carolingian King of East Francia from 887, the disputed King of Italy from 894 and the disputed Holy Roman Emperor from February 22, 896 until his death.-Birth and Illegitimacy:...

 near Leuven
Leuven
Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region, Belgium...

.
The Frankish lands were divided and reunified several times under the Merovingian and Carolingian
Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

 dynasties, but eventually were firmly divided into France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. The parts of the County of Flanders
County of Flanders
The County of Flanders was one of the territories constituting the Low Countries. The county existed from 862 to 1795. It was one of the original secular fiefs of France and for centuries was one of the most affluent regions in Europe....

 stretching out west of the river Scheldt
Scheldt
The Scheldt is a 350 km long river in northern France, western Belgium and the southwestern part of the Netherlands...

 (Schelde in Dutch, Escaut in French) became part of France during the Middle Ages, but the remainders of the County of Flanders and the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

 were part of the Holy Roman Empire.

Through the early Middle Ages, the northern part of present-day Belgium (now commonly referred to as Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

) had become an overwhelmingly Germanized and Germanic language
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

-speaking area, whereas in the southern part people had continued to be Roman and spoke derivatives of Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin is any of the nonstandard forms of Latin from which the Romance languages developed. Because of its nonstandard nature, it had no official orthography. All written works used Classical Latin, with very few exceptions...

.

As the Holy Roman Emperors lost effective control of their domains in the 11th and 12th centuries, the territory more or less corresponding to the present Belgium was divided into mostly independent feudal states:
  • County of Flanders
    County of Flanders
    The County of Flanders was one of the territories constituting the Low Countries. The county existed from 862 to 1795. It was one of the original secular fiefs of France and for centuries was one of the most affluent regions in Europe....

  • Marquisate of Namur
    Marquis of Namur
    Namur was a county of the Carolingian and later Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries. Its territories largely correspond with the present-day Belgian arrondissement Namur plus the northwestern part of the arrondissement Dinant....

  • Duchy of Brabant
    Duchy of Brabant
    The Duchy of Brabant was a historical region in the Low Countries. Its territory consisted essentially of the three modern-day Belgian provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Antwerp, the Brussels-Capital Region and most of the present-day Dutch province of North Brabant.The Flag of...

     (see also Duke of Brabant
    Duke of Brabant
    The Duchy of Brabant was formally erected in 1183/1184. The title "Duke of Brabant" was created by the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in favor of Henry I, son of Godfrey III of Leuven . The Duchy of Brabant was a feudal elevation of the since 1085/1086 existing title of Landgrave of Brabant...

    )
  • County of Hainaut
    County of Hainaut
    The County of Hainaut was a historical region in the Low Countries with its capital at Mons . In English sources it is often given the archaic spelling Hainault....

  • Duchy of Limburg
    Duchy of Limburg
    The Duchy of Limburg, situated in the Low Countries between the river Meuse and the city of Aachen, was a state of the Holy Roman Empire. Its territory is now divided between the Belgian provinces of Liège and Limburg , the Dutch province of Limburg , and a small part of North Rhine-Westphalia in...

  • Luxembourg
    Luxembourg
    Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

  • Bishopric of Liège
    Bishopric of Liège
    The Bishopric of Liège or Prince-Bishopric of Liège was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries in present Belgium. It acquired its status as a prince-bishopric between 980 and 985 when Bishop Notger, who had been the bishop of Liege since 972, acquired the status of Prince-Bishop...



During the 11th and 12th centuries, the Rheno-Mosan or Mosan art
Mosan art
Mosan art is a regional style of art from the valley of the Meuse in present-day Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Although the term applies to art from this region from all periods, it generally refers to Romanesque art, with Mosan Romanesque architecture, stone carving, metalwork, enamelling...

 movement flourished in the region moving its centre from Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 and Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

 to Liège, Maastricht
Maastricht
Maastricht is situated on both sides of the Meuse river in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands, on the Belgian border and near the German border...

 and Aachen
Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

. Some masterpieces of this Romanesque art
Romanesque art
Romanesque art refers to the art of Western Europe from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 13th century, or later, depending on region. The preceding period is increasingly known as the Pre-Romanesque...

 are the shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral
Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral
The Shrine of the Three Kings is a reliquary said to contain the bones of the Biblical Magi, also known as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men. The shrine is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral...

, the Baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège by Renier de Huy
Renier de Huy
Renier de Huy was a 12th century metalworker and sculptor to whom is attributed a major masterpiece of Mosan art, the baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège in Liege, Belgium of 1107–18...

, the Stavelot Triptych
Stavelot Triptych
The Stavelot Triptych is a medieval reliquary and portable altar in gold and enamel intended to protect, honor and display pieces of the True Cross. Created by Mosan artists—"Mosan" signifies the valley of the Meuse river—around 1156 at Stavelot Abbey in present-day Belgium...

, the shrine of Saint Remacle in Stavelot
Stavelot
Stavelot is a Walloon municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège. On January 1, 2006, Stavelot had a total population of 6,671. The total area is 85.07 km² which gives a population density of 78 inhabitants per km².-History:...

, the shrine of Saint Servatius
Saint Servatius
Saint Servatius was bishop of Tongeren—Roman Atuatuca Tungrorum the capital of the Tungri—one of the earliest dioceses in the Low Countries. Later in his life he fled to Maastricht, Roman Mosae Trajectum, where he became the first bishop of this city...

 in Maastricht or, Notger's gospel in Liège.

13th-18th centuries


In this period, many cities, including Ypres
Ypres
Ypres is a Belgian municipality located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Ypres and the villages of Boezinge, Brielen, Dikkebus, Elverdinge, Hollebeke, Sint-Jan, Vlamertinge, Voormezele, Zillebeke, and Zuidschote...

, Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

 and Antwerp gained independence. The Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

 stimulated trade in the region, and the period saw the erection of many gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 cathedrals and city halls. With the decline of the Holy Roman emperors' power starting in the 13th century, the Low Countries were largely left to their own devices. The lack of imperial protection also meant that the French and English began vying for influence in the region. In 1214, King Philip II of France defeated the Count of Flanders in the Battle of Bouvines
Battle of Bouvines
The Battle of Bouvines, 27 July 1214, was a conclusive medieval battle ending the twelve year old Angevin-Flanders War that was important to the early development of both the French state by confirming the French crown's sovereignty over the Angevin lands of Brittany and Normandy.Philip Augustus of...

 and forced his submission to the French crown. Through the remainder of the 13th century, French control over Flanders steadily increased until 1302 when an attempt at total annexation by Philip IV met a stunning defeat when Count Guy (who had the support of the guilds and craftsmen) rallied the townspeople and humiliated the French knights at the Battle of the Golden Spurs
Battle of the Golden Spurs
The Battle of the Golden Spurs, known also as the Battle of Courtrai was fought on July 11, 1302, near Kortrijk in Flanders...

. Undaunted, Philip launched a new campaign that ended with the inconclusive Battle of Mons-en-Pévèle
Battle of Mons-en-Pévèle
The Battle of Mons-en-Pévèle was fought on 18 August 1304 between the French and the Flemish. The French were led by King Philip IV the Fair in person.- Prelude :...

 in 1304. The king imposed harsh peace terms on Flanders, which included ceding the important textile-making centers of Lille
Lille
Lille is a city in northern France . It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium...

 and Douai
Douai
-Main sights:Douai's ornate Gothic style belfry was begun in 1380, on the site of an earlier tower. The 80 m high structure includes an impressive carillon, consisting of 62 bells spanning 5 octaves. The originals, some dating from 1391 were removed in 1917 during World War I by the occupying...

. Thereafter, Flanders remained a French tributary until the start of the Hundred Years War in 1337. In Brabant, skillful work by the duke of that territory and the Count of Hainaut-Holland foiled various French manipulations. Paris's influence in the Low Countries was counterbalanced by England, which maintained important ties to the coastal ports.

Flanders faced the difficult situation of being politically subservient to France, but also reliant on trade with England. Many craftsmen emigrated to England, which also came to dominate the wool-shipping business. Flemish cloth nonetheless remained a highly valued product, and it was highly dependent on English wool. Any interruption in the supply of that invariably resulted in riots and violence from the weavers' guilds. On the whole though, Flemish trade became a passive one. Flanders received imports from other areas of Europe, but itself purchased little abroad except wine from Spain and France. Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

 became a great commercial center after the Hanseatic League set up business there and the Italian banking houses followed suit.

A few towns in the Low Countries dated back to Roman times, but most had been founded from the 9th century onward. The oldest were in the Scheldt and Meuse areas, with many towns in what's now the Netherlands being much younger and only dating from the 13th century. From early on, the Low Countries began to develop as a commercial and manufacturing center. Merchants became the dominant class in the towns, with the nobility largely limited to countryside estates.
By 1433 most of the Belgian and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

ian territory along with much of the rest of the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

 became part of Burgundy
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

 under Philip the Good. When Mary of Burgundy
Mary of Burgundy
Mary of Burgundy ruled the Burgundian territories in Low Countries and was suo jure Duchess of Burgundy from 1477 until her death...

, granddaughter of Philip the Good married Maximilian I
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian I , the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor and Eleanor of Portugal, was King of the Romans from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1493 until his death, though he was never in fact crowned by the Pope, the journey to Rome always being too risky...

, the Low Countries became Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 territory. Their son, Philip I of Castile
Philip I of Castile
Philip I , known as Philip the Handsome or the Fair, was the first Habsburg King of Castile...

 (Philip the Handsome) was the father of the later Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

. The Holy Roman Empire was unified with Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 under the Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 Dynasty after Charles V inherited several domains.

Especially during the Burgundy period (the 15th and 16th centuries), Ypres
Ypres
Ypres is a Belgian municipality located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Ypres and the villages of Boezinge, Brielen, Dikkebus, Elverdinge, Hollebeke, Sint-Jan, Vlamertinge, Voormezele, Zillebeke, and Zuidschote...

, Ghent
Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

, Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

, Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, and Antwerp took turns at being major Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an centers for commerce, industry (especially textiles) and art. The Flemish Primitives were a group of painters
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 active primarily in the Southern Netherlands in the 15th and early 16th centuries (for example, Van Eyck
Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck was a Flemish painter active in Bruges and considered one of the best Northern European painters of the 15th century....

 and van der Weyden
Roger van der Weyden
Rogier van der Weyden or Rogier de le Pasture was an Early Flemish painter. His surviving works consist mainly of religious triptychs, altarpieces and commissioned single and diptych portraits. Although his life was generally uneventful, he was highly successful and internationally famous in his...

). Flemish tapestries
Tapestry
Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven on a vertical loom, however it can also be woven on a floor loom as well. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length and those parallel to the width ; the warp threads are set up under tension on a...

 hung on the walls of castles throughout Europe. See also:
  • Early Renaissance painting
    Early Renaissance painting
    Renaissance art is the painting, sculpture and decorative arts of that period of European history known as the Renaissance, emerging as a distinct style in Italy in about 1400, in parallel with developments which occurred in philosophy, literature, music and science...

  • Charles the Good
  • Charles the Bold


The Pragmatic Sanction of 1549
Pragmatic Sanction of 1549
The Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 was an edict, promulgated by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, reorganizing the Seventeen Provinces.It was his plan to centralize the administrative units of Holy Roman Empire. The Pragmatic Sanction transformed this agglomeration of lands into a unified entity, of which...

, issued by Charles V, established the Seventeen Provinces
Seventeen Provinces
The Seventeen Provinces were a personal union of states in the Low Countries in the 15th century and 16th century, roughly covering the current Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, a good part of the North of France , and a small part of Western Germany.The Seventeen Provinces were originally held by...

 (or Spanish Netherlands in its broad sense) as an entity separate from the Empire and from France. This comprised all of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg except for the lands of the Bishopric of Liège
Bishopric of Liège
The Bishopric of Liège or Prince-Bishopric of Liège was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries in present Belgium. It acquired its status as a prince-bishopric between 980 and 985 when Bishop Notger, who had been the bishop of Liege since 972, acquired the status of Prince-Bishop...

.

After the Burgundian
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

 regime in the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

 (1363–1477), the Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

 (whose area roughly encompassed that of present-day Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

) as well as the northern provinces (whose area roughly corresponded to that of the present-day Kingdom of the Netherlands) had dynastic links with the Austrian Habsburgs and then with Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and the Austrian Habsburgs together. Later, as a consequence of revolt in 1567, the southern provinces became subject to Spain (1579), then to the Austrian Habsburgs (1713), to France (1795), and finally in 1815 to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. While Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 remained linked to the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 until 1867, Belgium’s union with the Netherlands ended with the 1830 revolution. Belgian nationality is generally considered to date from this event.

The Burgundian period, from Philip II (the Bold) to Charles the Bold, was one of political prestige and economic and artistic splendour. The “Great Dukes of the West,” as the Burgundian princes were called, were effectively considered national sovereigns, their domains extending from the Zuiderzee to the Somme. The urban and other textile industries, which had developed in the Belgian territories since the 12th century, became under the Burgundians the economic mainstay of northwestern Europe.

The death of Charles the Bold (1477) and the marriage of his daughter Mary to the archduke Maximilian of Austria proved fatal to the independence of the Low Countries by bringing them increasingly under the sway of the Habsburg dynasty. Mary and Maximilian’s grandson Charles became king of Spain as Charles I in 1516 and Holy Roman emperor as Charles V in 1519. In Brussels on Oct. 25, 1555, Charles V abdicated the Netherlands to his son, who in January 1556 assumed the throne of Spain as Philip II.

However, the northern region now known as the Netherlands became increasingly Protestant (i.e. Calvinistic), while the south remained primarily Catholic. The schism resulted in the Union of Atrecht
Union of Atrecht
The Union of Arras was an accord signed on 6 January 1579 in Arras , under which the southern states of the Netherlands, today in Wallonia and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais régions in France and Belgium, expressed their loyalty to the Spanish king Philip II and recognized his Governor-General, Don Juan...

 and the Union of Utrecht
Union of Utrecht
The Union of Utrecht was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain....

. When Philip II
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

, son of Charles, ascended the Spanish throne he tried to abolish all Protestantism. Portions of the Netherlands revolted, beginning the Eighty Years' War between the Netherlands and Spain. For the conquered Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

 the war ended in 1585 with the Fall of Antwerp. This can be seen as the start of Belgium as one region. That same year, the northern Low Countries (i.e. the Netherlands proper) seized independence in the Act of Abjuration (Plakkaat van Verlatinghe) and started the United Provinces
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 and the Dutch Golden Age
Dutch Golden Age
The Golden Age was a period in Dutch history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first half is characterised by the Eighty Years' War till 1648...

. For them, the war lasted until 1648 (the Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

), when Spain recognized the independence of the Netherlands, but held onto the loyal and Catholic region of modern-day Belgium which was all that remained of the Spanish Netherlands. See also:
  • Battles of the Eighty Years' War
    Battles of the Eighty Years' War
    List of battles of the Eighty Years' War:*Battle of Oosterweel: March 13, 1567*Battle of Rheindalen: April 23, 1568*Battle of Heiligerlee: May 23, 1568*Battle of Jemmingen: July 21, 1568*Battle of Jodoigne: October 20, 1568...

  • Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain
    Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain
    Isabella Clara Eugenia of Austria was sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands in the Low Countries and the north of modern France, together with her husband Albert. In some sources, she is referred to as Clara Isabella Eugenia...


While the United Provinces
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 gained independence, the Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

 remained under the rule of Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 (1556–1713).

Until 1581 the history of Belgium (except the Bishopric of Liège
Bishopric of Liège
The Bishopric of Liège or Prince-Bishopric of Liège was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries in present Belgium. It acquired its status as a prince-bishopric between 980 and 985 when Bishop Notger, who had been the bishop of Liege since 972, acquired the status of Prince-Bishop...

), the grand duchy of Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 and the country the Netherlands is the same: they formed the country/region of the Netherlands or the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

. In Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

, a distinction still exists between on the one hand 'de Nederlanden' (plural, the Low Countries) and 'Nederland' (singular, the present-day state of the Netherlands) that is a consequence of this separation in the 17th century. Before 1581, the Netherlands refers to the Lowlands (De Nederlanden).

During the 17th century, Antwerp was still a major Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an center for commerce, industry and art. The Brueghel
Brueghel
Brueghel or Bruegel was the name of several Dutch/Flemish painters from the same family line:* Pieter Bruegel the Elder — The most famous member of the family and the only one to sign his paintings as 'Bruegel' without the H....

s, Peter Paul Rubens and Van Dyck's baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 paintings were created during this period. See also:
  • Gerardus Mercator
    Gerardus Mercator
    thumb|right|200px|Gerardus MercatorGerardus Mercator was a cartographer, born in Rupelmonde in the Hapsburg County of Flanders, part of the Holy Roman Empire. He is remembered for the Mercator projection world map, which is named after him...

  • Jodocus Hondius
    Jodocus Hondius
    Jodocus Hondius , sometimes called Jodocus Hondius the Elder to distinguish him from his son Henricus Hondius II, was a Flemish artist, engraver, and cartographer...

  • War of Devolution
    War of Devolution
    The War of Devolution saw Louis XIV's French armies overrun the Habsburg-controlled Spanish Netherlands and the Franche-Comté, but forced to give most of it back by a Triple Alliance of England, Sweden, and the Dutch Republic in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.-Background:Louis's claims to the...

    , Franco-Dutch War
    Franco-Dutch War
    The Franco-Dutch War, often called simply the Dutch War was a war fought by France, Sweden, the Bishopric of Münster, the Archbishopric of Cologne and England against the United Netherlands, which were later joined by the Austrian Habsburg lands, Brandenburg and Spain to form a quadruple alliance...

    , War of the Reunions
    War of the Reunions
    The War of the Reunions was a short conflict between France and Spain and its allies. It was fueled by the long-running desire of Louis XIV to conquer new lands, many of them comprising part of the Spanish Netherlands, along France's northern and eastern borders...

    , Nine Years War, War of the Spanish Succession
    War of the Spanish Succession
    The War of the Spanish Succession was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have...



The Belgian and Luxemburgian territories (except the Bishopric of Liège) were transferred to the Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

n Habsburgs (1713–1794) after the War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have...

 when the French Bourbon Dynasty inherited Spain at the price of abandoning many Spanish possessions. They were thus called the Austrian Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

 from 1713 to 1794. See also:
  • War of the Austrian Succession
    War of the Austrian Succession
    The War of the Austrian Succession  – including King George's War in North America, the Anglo-Spanish War of Jenkins' Ear, and two of the three Silesian wars – involved most of the powers of Europe over the question of Maria Theresa's succession to the realms of the House of Habsburg.The...

  • Barrier Treaty
    Barrier Treaty
    The "Barrier Treaties" were the names of three agreements signed and ratified during or immediately after the War of Spanish Succession.-First:...

     which excluded the Flemings to use the Scheldt
  • Ostend Company
    Ostend Company
    The Imperial Ostend Company was an Austrian private trading company established in 1717 to trade with the East and West Indies. For a few years it provided strong competition to the traditional colonial trading companies...

  • Battle of Turnhout (1789)
    Battle of Turnhout (1789)
    The Battle of Turnhout was a revolt against Austrian rule of the Southern Netherlands began in the Kempen region. On October 27, 1789, this led to a battle near Turnhout against the Austrian army, in which the latter was defeated. The rebel army was able to lure the Austrians in to the city were...

  • United States of Belgium
    United States of Belgium
    The United States of Belgium, part of Brabant.In October, he invaded Brabant and captured Turnhout, defeating the Austrians in the Battle of Turnhout on October 27. Ghent was taken on November 13, and on November 17 the imperial regents Albert of Saxony and Archduchess Maria Christina fled Brussels...

     of 1790

French period


With the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, the Austrian Netherlands declared their independence, but were reoccupied by the Austrians within a year.

Following the Campaigns of 1794 of the French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars: Campaigns of 1794
The French Revolutionary Wars continued from 1793 with few immediate changes in the diplomatic situation as France fought the First coalition.On the Alpine frontier, there was little change, with the French invasion of Piedmont failing...

, the Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

 were invaded and annexed by the First French Republic in 1795, ending Habsburg rule. They were divided into nine united départements and became an integral part of France. The Bishopric of Liège
Bishopric of Liège
The Bishopric of Liège or Prince-Bishopric of Liège was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries in present Belgium. It acquired its status as a prince-bishopric between 980 and 985 when Bishop Notger, who had been the bishop of Liege since 972, acquired the status of Prince-Bishop...

 was dissolved. Its territory was divided over the départements Meuse-Inférieure
Meuse-Inférieure
Meuse-Inférieure is the name of a département of the First French Empire in present Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. It is named after the river Meuse. Its capital was Maastricht....

 and Ourte. Austria confirmed the loss of the Austrian Netherlands by the Treaty of Campo Formio
Treaty of Campo Formio
The Treaty of Campo Formio was signed on 18 October 1797 by Napoleon Bonaparte and Count Philipp von Cobenzl as representatives of revolutionary France and the Austrian monarchy...

, in 1797.

Until the establishment of the Consulate
French Consulate
The Consulate was the government of France between the fall of the Directory in the coup of 18 Brumaire in 1799 until the start of the Napoleonic Empire in 1804...

 in 1799, Catholics were heavily repressed by the French. The University of Leuven (Louvain) was closed in 1797, priests were considered criminal, and churches were plundered. During this early period of the French rule, the Belgian economy was completely paralyzed: it was forbidden to export from the port of Antwerp
Port of Antwerp
The port of Antwerp, in Belgium, is a port in the heart of Europe accessible to capesize ships. Antwerp stands at the upper end of the tidal estuary of the Scheldt. The estuary is navigable by ships of more than 100,000 Gross Tons as far as 80 km inland. The inland location means that the port...

, heavy taxes had to be paid in gold and silver coin, while goods bought by the French were paid for with worthless assignat
Assignat
Assignat was the type of a monetary instrument used during the time of the French Revolution, and the French Revolutionary Wars.- France :...

s. During this period of systematic exploitation, about 800,000 Belgians fled the Southern Netherlands. The French occupation in Belgium led to further suppression of the Dutch language across the country, including its abolition as an administrative language. With the motto "one nation, one language", French became the only accepted language in public life, as well as in economic, political, and social affairs. The measures of the successive French governments and in particular the 1798 massive conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 into the French army were particularly unpopular within the Flemish segment of the population and caused the Peasants' War
Peasants' War (1798)
The Peasants' War was a peasant revolt in 1798 against the French occupation of the Southern Netherlands, including modern Belgium, Luxembourg, and parts of Germany, during the French Revolutionary Wars.-Luxembourg:...

. The Peasants' War is often seen as the starting point of the modern Flemish movement
Flemish movement
The Flemish Movement is a popular term used to describe the political movement for emancipation and greater autonomy of the Belgian region of Flanders, for protection of the Dutch language, and for the over-all protection of Flemish culture and history....

.

In 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 was forced to abdicate by the Allies and was exiled; French control of Belgium ended. However, Napoleon managed to escape from Elba and quickly returned to power during the Hundred Days
Hundred Days
The Hundred Days, sometimes known as the Hundred Days of Napoleon or Napoleon's Hundred Days for specificity, marked the period between Emperor Napoleon I of France's return from exile on Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815...

 in 1815. Napoleon knew that his only chance of remaining in power was to attack the existing Allied forces in Belgium before they were reinforced. He crossed the Belgian frontier with two armies and attacked the Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

ns under the command of General Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Fürst von Wahlstatt , Graf , later elevated to Fürst von Wahlstatt, was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall who led his army against Napoleon I at the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813 and at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 with the Duke of Wellington.He is...

 at the Battle of Ligny
Battle of Ligny
The Battle of Ligny was the last victory of the military career of Napoleon I. In this battle, French troops of the Armée du Nord under Napoleon's command, defeated a Prussian army under Field Marshal Blücher, near Ligny in present-day Belgium. The bulk of the Prussian army survived, however, and...

 on June 16, 1815. Meanwhile, Ney
Michel Ney
Michel Ney , 1st Duc d'Elchingen, 1st Prince de la Moskowa was a French soldier and military commander during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original 18 Marshals of France created by Napoleon I...

 engaged the forces of the Duke of Wellington
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

 and the Prince of Orange
William II of the Netherlands
William II was King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Duke of Limburg from 7 October 1840 until his death in 1849.- Early life and education :...

 in the Battle of Quatre Bras
Battle of Quatre Bras
The Battle of Quatre Bras, between Wellington's Anglo-Dutch army and the left wing of the Armée du Nord under Marshal Michel Ney, was fought near the strategic crossroads of Quatre Bras on 16 June 1815.- Prelude :...

 on the same day.


In 1815, Napoleon's last campaign was fought out in Belgium. He attacked the Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n and British armies then deployed in Belgium. Napoleon was finally defeated by the Duke of Wellington
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

 and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Fürst von Wahlstatt , Graf , later elevated to Fürst von Wahlstatt, was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall who led his army against Napoleon I at the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813 and at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 with the Duke of Wellington.He is...

 at Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 in present-day Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 on 18 June 1815. Napoleon's strategy failed and his army was driven from the field in confusion, by a combined Allied general advance. The next morning the Battle of Wavre
Battle of Wavre
The Battle of Wavre was the final major military action of the Hundred Days campaign and the Napoleonic Wars. It was fought on 18-19 June 1815 between the Prussian rearguard under the command of General Johann von Thielmann and three corps of the French army under the command of Marshal Grouchy. A...

 ended in a hollow French victory. Napoleon was forced to surrender and was exiled permanently.

King William I of the Netherlands
William I of the Netherlands
William I Frederick, born Willem Frederik Prins van Oranje-Nassau , was a Prince of Orange and the first King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg....

 had the Butte du Lion
Butte du Lion
The Lion's Mound is a large conical artificial hill raised on the battlefield of Waterloo to commemorate the location where William II of the Netherlands was knocked from his horse by a musket ball to the shoulder during the battle...

 erected on the battlefield of Waterloo to commemorate the location where his son, William II of the Netherlands
William II of the Netherlands
William II was King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Duke of Limburg from 7 October 1840 until his death in 1849.- Early life and education :...

 (the Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange is a title of nobility, originally associated with the Principality of Orange, in what is now southern France. In French it is la Principauté d'Orange....

), was knocked from his horse by a musket ball to the shoulder and as a tribute to his courage. It was completed in 1826. The younger William had fought as commander of combined Dutch and Belgian forces at the Battle of Quatre Bras
Battle of Quatre Bras
The Battle of Quatre Bras, between Wellington's Anglo-Dutch army and the left wing of the Armée du Nord under Marshal Michel Ney, was fought near the strategic crossroads of Quatre Bras on 16 June 1815.- Prelude :...

 and the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

.

United Kingdom of the Netherlands


After Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 in 1815, the major victorious powers (Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

) agreed at Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

 on reuniting the former Austrian Netherlands and the former Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

, creating the United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands is the unofficial name used to refer to Kingdom of the Netherlands during the period after it was first created from part of the First French Empire and before the new kingdom of Belgium split out in 1830...

, which was to serve as a buffer state against any future French invasions. This was under the rule of a Protestant king, namely William I of Orange
William I of the Netherlands
William I Frederick, born Willem Frederik Prins van Oranje-Nassau , was a Prince of Orange and the first King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg....

. Most of the small and ecclesiastical states in the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 were given to larger states at this time, and this included the Prince-Bishopric of Liège which became now formally part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Independence


In August 1830, stirred by a performance of Auber's
Daniel Auber
Daniel François Esprit Auber was a French composer.-Biography:The son of a Paris print-seller, Auber was born in Caen in Normandy. Though his father expected him to continue in the print-selling business, he also allowed his son to learn how to play several musical instruments...

 La Muette de Portici
La muette de Portici
La muette de Portici originally called Masaniello, ou La muette de Portici, is an opera in five acts by Daniel Auber, with a libretto by Germain Delavigne, revised by Eugène Scribe...

at the Brussels opera house La Monnaie
La Monnaie
Le Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie , or the Koninklijke Muntschouwburg is a theatre in Brussels, Belgium....

(Dutch: De Munt), the Belgian Revolution
Belgian Revolution
The Belgian Revolution was the conflict which led to the secession of the Southern provinces from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and established an independent Kingdom of Belgium....

 broke out, and the country wrested its independence from the Dutch, aided by French intellectuals and French armed forces. The real political forces behind this were the Catholic clergy, which was against the Protestant Dutch king, William I, and the equally strong liberals
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

, who opposed the royal authoritarianism, and the fact that the Belgians were not represented proportionally in the national assemblies. At first, the Revolution was merely a call for greater autonomy, but due to the clumsy responses of the Dutch king to the problem, and his unwillingness to meet the demands of the revolutionaries, the Revolution quickly escalated into a fight for full independence.

The major European powers of the time, (Britain, Russia, Prussia, Austria) were fearful of Belgium either becoming a republic or being annexed to France, and so found a monarch invited in from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha or Saxe-Coburg-Gotha served as the collective name of two duchies, Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Gotha, in Germany. They were located in what today are the states of Bavaria and Thuringia, respectively, and the two were in personal union between 1826 and 1918...

 in Germany by the British. On July 21, 1831, the first king of the Belgians, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg was inaugurated. This day is still the Belgian national holiday. Even though the Belgian Revolution violated the accords made in 1815, the Belgians received the sympathy of the liberal governments of both Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 and France. France itself had undergone a liberal revolution that year. The other major powers of Europe Austria and Prussia took a much dimmer view of Belgian independence but they were disinclined to take any action, being preoccupied with the November Uprising
November Uprising
The November Uprising , Polish–Russian War 1830–31 also known as the Cadet Revolution, was an armed rebellion in the heartland of partitioned Poland against the Russian Empire. The uprising began on 29 November 1830 in Warsaw when the young Polish officers from the local Army of the Congress...

 in Poland.

The Netherlands still fought on for eight years, but in 1839, the Treaty of London (1839)
Treaty of London, 1839
The Treaty of London, also called the First Treaty of London or the Convention of 1839, was a treaty signed on 19 April 1839 between the European great powers, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Belgium. It was the direct follow-up of the 1831 'Treaty of the XXIV Articles'...

 was signed between the two countries. Belgium thereafter became a sovereign, independent state with a liberal constitution (constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

). The constitution did however, limit voting rights
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

 to the haute-bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 and the clergy, if they were fully French speaking, in a country where French was not the majority language; all together less than 1% of the adult population.

By the treaty of 1839, Luxembourg did not fully join Belgium, and remained a possession of the Netherlands until different inheritance laws caused it to separate as an independent Grand Duchy
Grand duchy
A grand duchy, sometimes referred to as a grand dukedom, is a territory whose head of state is a monarch, either a grand duke or grand duchess.Today Luxembourg is the only remaining grand duchy...

. Belgium also lost Eastern Limburg, Zeeuws Vlaanderen and French Flanders
French Flanders
French Flanders is a part of the historical County of Flanders in present-day France. The region today lies in the modern-day region of Nord-Pas de Calais, the department of Nord, and roughly corresponds to the arrondissements of Lille, Douai and Dunkirk on the Belgian border.-Geography:French...

 (Dutch: Frans Vlaanderen) and Eupen
Eupen
Eupen is a municipality in the Belgian province of Liège, from the German border , from the Dutch border and from the "High Fens" nature reserve...

, four territories which it had all claimed on historical grounds. The Netherlands retained the former two while French Flanders, which had been annexed at the time of Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 remained in French possession, and Eupen remained within the German Confederation
German Confederation
The German Confederation was the loose association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries. It acted as a buffer between the powerful states of Austria and Prussia...

, although it would pass to Belgium after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 as compensation for the war.

The Belgian Revolution had many causes:
  • At the political level:
    • The Belgians felt significantly under-represented in the Netherlands' elected Lower Assembly.
    • The low popularity of Prince William, the later King William II
      William II of the Netherlands
      William II was King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Duke of Limburg from 7 October 1840 until his death in 1849.- Early life and education :...

      , who was the representative of King William I
      William I of the Netherlands
      William I Frederick, born Willem Frederik Prins van Oranje-Nassau , was a Prince of Orange and the first King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg....

       in Brussels.
    • The treatment of the French-speaking Catholic Walloons
      Walloons
      Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. Walloons are a distinctive community within Belgium, important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people. More generally, the term also refers to the inhabitants of the Walloon...

       in the Dutch dominated United Kingdom of the Netherlands.
  • At the religious level:
    • The difference of religion between the Catholic Belgians and their Protestant Dutch king.
  • At the economic level:
    • The Belgians had little influence over the traditional economy of trade centered in Amsterdam.
    • The Dutch were for free trade
      Free trade
      Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

      , while industries in Belgium called for the protection of tariff
      Tariff
      A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

      s.
    • Low-taxed imports from the Baltic depressed agriculture in Belgian grain-growing regions.
  • At the international level:
    • French July Monarchy
      July Monarchy
      The July Monarchy , officially the Kingdom of France , was a period of liberal constitutional monarchy in France under King Louis-Philippe starting with the July Revolution of 1830 and ending with the Revolution of 1848...

      's support.
    • The passive agreement of the British.

Language battles


Friction between French-speaking (Walloons) and Dutch (Flemish) speaking Flemings has always been the central political issue of the Kingdom of Belgium. French became the official language of government after the separation from the Netherlands in 1830. Belgian cultural life was dominated by the French influence, reinforced by economic domination of the industrial south. In response came a new spirit of nationalism among the Flemings, who agitated for the equality of their language with French. This goal was finally achieved by a series of laws in the 1920s and 1930s that made Flemish the language of government, education, and the courts in the northern provinces of East Flanders and West Flanders, Antwerp, Limburg, and eastern Brabant. Brussels became a bilingual national capital.

High culture


Cultural life in Belgium had long stagnated but a revival among Walloons began with the new French language literary and artistic review La Jeune Belgique
La Jeune Belgique
La Jeune Belgique was a belgian literary society and movement that published a French-language literary review La Jeune Belgique between 1881 and 1897. The society was founded by the Belgian poet Max Waller...

(1881–97). World class writers in French include the great romantic and symbolist poet Maurice Maeterlinck
Maurice Maeterlinck
Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck, also called Comte Maeterlinck from 1932, was a Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist who wrote in French. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911. The main themes in his work are death and the meaning of life...

 (1862–1949, Nobel Prize 1911), dramatists Michel de Ghelderode
Michel De Ghelderode
Michel de Ghelderode was an avant-garde Belgian dramatist, writing in French.-Career:...

 (1898–1962) and Henri Michaux
Henri Michaux
Henri Michaux was a highly idiosyncratic Belgian-born poet, writer, and painter who wrote in French. He later took French citizenship. Michaux is best known for his esoteric books written in a highly accessible style, and his body of work includes poetry, travelogues, and art criticism...

 (1899–1984), and the poet and playwright Émile Verhaeren
Emile Verhaeren
Emile Verhaeren was a Belgian poet who wrote in the French language, and one of the chief founders of the school of Symbolism....

 (1855–1916), one of the founders of symbolism. Inspector Maigret, the creation of Georges Simenon
Georges Simenon
Georges Joseph Christian Simenon was a Belgian writer. A prolific author who published nearly 200 novels and numerous short works, Simenon is best known for the creation of the fictional detective Maigret.-Early life and education:...

 (1903–89), won a wide following in translation. James Ensor
James Ensor
James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor was a Flemish-Belgian painter and printmaker, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend for almost his entire life...

 (1860–1949) was an influential Expressionist painter and printmaker. Félicien Rops
Félicien Rops
Félicien Rops was a Belgian artist, and printmaker in etching and aquatint.-Early life:Rops was born in Namur as the only son to Nicholas Rops and Sophie Maubile. He was educated at the University of Brussels...

 (1833–98) won acclaim as a graphic artist, as did surrealist painters Paul Delvaux
Paul Delvaux
Paul Delvaux was a Belgian painter, associated with Surrealism, famous for his paintings of female nudes.-Biography:...

 (1897–1994) and René Magritte
René Magritte
René François Ghislain Magritte[p] was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images...

 (1898–1967). Few other Flemish artists achieved comparable international renown, and there was a tendency for Walloon artists to move to France.

Railways



The small nation provided an ideal model for showing the value of the railways for speeding the Second Industrial Revolution
Second Industrial Revolution
The Second Industrial Revolution, also known as the Technological Revolution, was a phase of the larger Industrial Revolution corresponding to the latter half of the 19th century until World War I...

. After 1830, the new nation decided to stimulate industry. It funded a simple cross-shaped system that connected the major cities, ports and mining areas, and linked to neighboring countries. Belgium thus became the railway center of the region. The system was very soundly built along British lines, so that profits and wages were low but the infrastructure necessary for rapid industrial growth was put in place. Léopold I went on to build the first railway
Rail transport in Belgium
Belgium has an extensive rail network. It is a member of the International Union of Railways . The UIC Country Code for Belgium is 88.-History:...

 in continental Europe in 1835, between Brussels and Mechelen
Mechelen
Mechelen Footnote: Mechelen became known in English as 'Mechlin' from which the adjective 'Mechlinian' is derived...

. The first trains were drawn by Stephenson
George Stephenson
George Stephenson was an English civil engineer and mechanical engineer who built the first public railway line in the world to use steam locomotives...

 engines imported from Great Britain.

Laicity and Catholicism


In the 19th century, poor politics were a bipartisan system very deeply influenced by the conflict between the Catholic parties and the secular ones.

See also

  • Liberalism in Belgium
    Liberalism in Belgium
    This article gives an overview of liberalism in Belgium. It is limited to liberal parties with substantial support, mainly proved by having had a representation in parliament. The sign ⇒ denotes another party in that scheme...

  • Université Libre de Bruxelles
    Université Libre de Bruxelles
    The Université libre de Bruxelles is a French-speaking university in Brussels, Belgium. It has 21,000 students, 29% of whom come from abroad, and an equally cosmopolitan staff.-Name:...

  • Catholic University of Leuven
    Catholic University of Leuven
    The Catholic University of Leuven, or of Louvain, was the largest, oldest and most prominent university in Belgium. The university was founded in 1425 as the University of Leuven by John IV, Duke of Brabant and approved by a Papal bull by Pope Martin V.During France's occupation of Belgium in the...

  • John Cockerill
  • Cockerill-Sambre
    Cockerill-Sambre
    Cockerill-Sambre was a group of Belgian steel manufacturers headquartered in Seraing , on the Meuse River, and in Charleroi, on the shore of the Sambre River....

  • Val Saint Lambert
    Val Saint Lambert
    Val Saint Lambert is a Belgian crystal glassware manufacturer, founded in 1826. Val St Lambert is the official glassware supplier to H.M. King Albert II of Belgium.-History:...

  • Ernest Solvay
    Ernest Solvay
    Ernest Gaston Joseph Solvay was a Belgian chemist, industrialist and philanthropist.Born at Rebecq, he was prevented by acute pleurisy from going to university...

  • Fabrique Nationale de Herstal
    Fabrique Nationale de Herstal
    Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal — self identified as FN Herstal and often referred to as Fabrique Nationale or simply FN — is a firearms manufacturer located in Herstal, Belgium....

  • Rail transport in Belgium
    Rail transport in Belgium
    Belgium has an extensive rail network. It is a member of the International Union of Railways . The UIC Country Code for Belgium is 88.-History:...

  • Industrial revolution
    Industrial Revolution
    The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...


Rise of the Socialist Party and the trade unions



The Congolese colony

Main articles: Congo Free State
Congo Free State
The Congo Free State was a large area in Central Africa which was privately controlled by Leopold II, King of the Belgians. Its origins lay in Leopold's attracting scientific, and humanitarian backing for a non-governmental organization, the Association internationale africaine...

 and Belgian Congo
Belgian Congo
The Belgian Congo was the formal title of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo between King Leopold II's formal relinquishment of his personal control over the state to Belgium on 15 November 1908, and Congolese independence on 30 June 1960.-Congo Free State, 1884–1908:Until the latter...



At the Berlin Conference
Berlin Conference
The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 regulated European colonization and trade in Africa during the New Imperialism period, and coincided with Germany's sudden emergence as an imperial power...

 of 1884–1885 the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 was attributed solely to Leopold II of Belgium
Leopold II of Belgium
Leopold II was the second king of the Belgians. Born in Brussels the second son of Leopold I and Louise-Marie of Orléans, he succeeded his father to the throne on 17 December 1865 and remained king until his death.Leopold is chiefly remembered as the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free...

, who named the territory the Congo Free State
Congo Free State
The Congo Free State was a large area in Central Africa which was privately controlled by Leopold II, King of the Belgians. Its origins lay in Leopold's attracting scientific, and humanitarian backing for a non-governmental organization, the Association internationale africaine...

. King Leopold had been the principal shareholder in the Belgian trading company which established trading stations on the lower Congo between 1879 and 1884. Power was finally transferred to Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 in 1908 under considerable international pressure following numerous reports of gross misconduct and abuse to native labourers.

The integration of traditional economies in the Congo within the framework of the modern, capitalist economy was brilliantly executed; for example, several railroads were built through dense regions of jungle. Leopold's fortune was greatly increased through the proceeds of Congolese rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

, which had never previously been mass-produced in such surplus quantities.

Many atrocities were committed in the colony, especially while it remained in Leopold II's personal possession. The behaviour of the Belgian colonists in Congo is still a conflict-laden topic in present-day Belgium.

European exploration and administration of the Congo took place from the 1870s until the 1920s. First by Stanley
Henry Morton Stanley
Sir Henry Morton Stanley, GCB, born John Rowlands , was a Welsh journalist and explorer famous for his exploration of Africa and his search for David Livingstone. Upon finding Livingstone, Stanley allegedly uttered the now-famous greeting, "Dr...

 who undertook his explorations mainly under the sponsorship of Leopold II
Leopold II of Belgium
Leopold II was the second king of the Belgians. Born in Brussels the second son of Leopold I and Louise-Marie of Orléans, he succeeded his father to the throne on 17 December 1865 and remained king until his death.Leopold is chiefly remembered as the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free...

, who desired what was to become the Congo as a colony. In a succession of negotiations Leopold, professing humanitarian objectives in his capacity as chairperson of the Association International Africaine, played one European rival against the other. The Congo territory was acquired formally by Leopold at the Conference of Berlin in 1885. He made the land his private, personal property and named it the Congo Free State. Congolese territory was more than 80 times as large as Belgium's.

Leopold's regime began undertaking various development projects, such as a railway that ran from the coast to Leopoldville (now Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

) which took years to complete. Nearly all of these projects were aimed at increasing the capital Leopold and his associates could extract from the colony, leading to some atrocious exploitation of Africans. In the Free State, the local population was brutalized in exchange for rubber, a growing market with the development of rubber tires. The selling of the rubber made a fortune for Leopold, who built several buildings in Brussels and Ostend to honour himself and his country.

During the period between 1885 and 1908, between five and fifteen (the commonly accepted figure is about ten) million Congolese died because of exploitation and diseases. To enforce the rubber quotas, the Force Publique (FP) was called in. The FP was an army, but its aim was not to defend the country, but to terrorize the local population. The Force Publique made the practice of cutting off the limbs of the natives as a means of enforcing rubber quotas a matter of policy; this practice was disturbingly widespread. However, there were international protests particularly in Britain and the United States in 1903-04 spearheaded mainly by Edmund Dene Morel and British diplomat/Irish patriot Roger Casement
Roger Casement
Roger David Casement —Sir Roger Casement CMG between 1911 and shortly before his execution for treason, when he was stripped of his British honours—was an Irish patriot, poet, revolutionary, and nationalist....

, whose 1904 report on the Congo condemned the practice, as well as famous writers such as Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

 (who wrote King Leopold's Soliloquy
King Leopold's Soliloquy
"King Leopold's Soliloquy" is a 1905 pamphlet by Mark Twain. Its subject is King Leopold's rule over the Congo Free State. A work of political satire harshly condemnatory of his actions, it ostensibly recounts Leopold speaking in his own defense....

) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle DL was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger...

. Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad was a Polish-born English novelist.Conrad is regarded as one of the great novelists in English, although he did not speak the language fluently until he was in his twenties...

's novella Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness is a novella written by Joseph Conrad. Before its 1903 publication, it appeared as a three-part series in Blackwood's Magazine. It was classified by the Modern Library website editors as one of the "100 best novels" and part of the Western canon.The story centres on Charles...

also takes place in Congo Free State. In 1908, the Belgian parliament bowed to international pressure in order to save their last bit of prestige in Europe, forcibly adopting the Free State as a Belgian colony from the king. From then on, it became the Belgian Congo
Belgian Congo
The Belgian Congo was the formal title of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo between King Leopold II's formal relinquishment of his personal control over the state to Belgium on 15 November 1908, and Congolese independence on 30 June 1960.-Congo Free State, 1884–1908:Until the latter...

.

However political rights were not granted to the Africans until 1956 when a small group received the franchise and the economy remained relatively undeveloped despite the mineral wealth of Katanga
Katanga Province
Katanga Province is one of the provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Between 1971 and 1997, its official name was Shaba Province. Under the new constitution, the province was to be replaced by four smaller provinces by February 2009; this did not actually take place.Katanga's regional...

. For 18 months from January 1, 1959 there was political uncertainty and African national feeling became more apparent with the effect that the Belgian government resolved on independence for the colony in June 1960. However the politicians relied largely on tribal rather than national support and there were constitutional disputes.


Historicism and Art Nouveau


At the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, the historicism style dominates the urban Belgian landscape (e.g. Justice Palace of Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, 50th-Anniversary Park
Cinquantenaire
Parc du Cinquantenaire or Jubelpark is a large public, urban park in the easternmost part of the European Quarter in Brussels, Belgium....

 in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

). Nevertheless, Brussels became one of the major European cities for the development of the Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

 style (e.g. Victor Horta
Victor Horta
Victor, Baron Horta was a Belgian architect and designer. John Julius Norwich described him as "undoubtedly the key European Art Nouveau architect." Indeed, Horta is one of the most important names in Art Nouveau architecture; the construction of his Hôtel Tassel in Brussels in 1892-3 means that...

, Henry van de Velde
Henry van de Velde
Henry Clemens Van de Velde was a Belgian Flemish painter, architect and interior designer. Together with Victor Horta and Paul Hankar he could be considered one of the main founders and representatives of Art Nouveau in Belgium...

).

World War I



When World War I began, Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg as part of the Schlieffen Plan
Schlieffen Plan
The Schlieffen Plan was the German General Staff's early 20th century overall strategic plan for victory in a possible future war in which the German Empire might find itself fighting on two fronts: France to the west and Russia to the east...

, trying to take Paris quickly and catch the French off guard by invading through neutral countries. It was this action that technically caused the British to enter the war, as they were still bound by the 1839 agreement to protect Belgium in the event of a war. To this day, the Belgians
Belgian Army order of battle (1914)
This is the Belgian Army order of battle on the outbreak of war in August 1914.A major reorganisation of the Army had been authorised by the government in 1912, providing for a total army of 350,000 men - 150,000 in the field forces, 130,000 in fortress garrisons and 70,000 reserves and auxiliaries...

 are remembered for their stubborn resistance during the early days of the war, with the army - around a tenth the size of the Germany Army - holding up the German offensive for nearly a month, giving their French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 allies time to strengthen for the Marne counteroffensive
First Battle of the Marne
The Battle of the Marne was a First World War battle fought between 5 and 12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army under Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. The battle effectively ended the month long German offensive that opened the war and had...

 later in the year.

The Germans were stopped by the Allies at the front-line along the Yser
Yser
The Yser is a river that finds its origin in the north of France, enters Belgium and flows into the North Sea at the town of Nieuwpoort.-In France:The source of the Yser is in Buysscheure, in the Nord département of northern France...

, the Battle of the Yser
Battle of the Yser
The Battle of the Yser secured part of the coastline of Belgium for the allies in the "Race to the Sea" after the first three months of World War I.-Strategic Context:As part of the execution of the Schlieffen Plan, Belgium had been invaded by Germany...

. King Albert I
Albert I of Belgium
Albert I reigned as King of the Belgians from 1909 until 1934.-Early life:Born Albert Léopold Clément Marie Meinrad in Brussels, he was the fifth child and second son of Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, and his wife, Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen...

 stayed in Belgium with his troops to lead the army while the government withdrew to Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. The Germans governed the occupied areas of Belgium through a General Governorate of Belgium
General Governorate of Belgium
The Imperial German General Governorate of Belgium was a German military government established in occupied Belgium during the First World War. The governorate was set up on 26 August 1914, when Field Marshal Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz was appointed the military governor of Belgium...

, while a small area of the country remained unoccupied by the Germans.

Flanders saw some of the greatest losses of life of the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 including the first
First Battle of Ypres
The First Battle of Ypres, also called the First Battle of Flanders , was a First World War battle fought for the strategic town of Ypres in western Belgium...

 and second battles of Ypres
Second Battle of Ypres
The Second Battle of Ypres was the first time Germany used poison gas on a large scale on the Western Front in the First World War and the first time a former colonial force pushed back a major European power on European soil, which occurred in the battle of St...

. Due to the hundreds of thousands of casualties, the poppies
Poppy
A poppy is one of a group of a flowering plants in the poppy family, many of which are grown in gardens for their colorful flowers. Poppies are sometimes used for symbolic reasons, such as in remembrance of soldiers who have died during wartime....

 that sprang up from the battle
Battle
Generally, a battle is a conceptual component in the hierarchy of combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, or combatants. In a battle, each combatant will seek to defeat the others, with defeat determined by the conditions of a military campaign...

field and that were immortalized in the poem In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields
"In Flanders Fields" is one of the most notable poems written during World War I, created in the form of a French rondeau. It has been called "the most popular poem" produced during that period...

, have become an emblem of human life lost in war. It is perfectly normal for poppies to invade disturbed arable ground.
The suffering of Flanders is still remembered by Flemish organizations during the yearly Yser pilgrimage
IJzerbedevaart
The IJzerbedevaart is a yearly gathering of Flemings, at the IJzertoren in Diksmuide. This pilgrimage remembers the Flemish soldiers who died during the First World War and was first organised in 1920. It is at the same time a political meeting striving for Flemish political autonomy...

 and Wake of the Yser
IJzerwake
The IJzerwake is an organisation that split off from the IJzerbedevaart, and unites the more radical Flemish nationalists. Each year in August, they organise a commemoration of the victims of the two World Wars, combined with a rally for Flemish independence and a more conservative government policy...

 (the latter associated with Right wing extremists) in Diksmuide
Diksmuide
Diksmuide is a Belgian city and municipality in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Diksmuide proper and the former communes of Beerst, Esen, Kaaskerke, Keiem, Lampernisse, Leke, Nieuwkapelle, Oostkerke, Oudekapelle, Pervijze, Sint-Jacobs-Kapelle,...

 at the monument of The Yser tower
IJzertoren
The IJzertoren is a memorial along the Belgian Yser river in Diksmuide. There have been two IJzertorens, the first built after the First World War by an organisation of former Flemish soldiers...

.

Flemish feeling of identity and consciousness grew through the events and experiences of war. The German occupying authorities had taken several Flemish-friendly measures (see Flamenpolitik
Flamenpolitik
Flamenpolitik is the name for certain policies pursued by German authorities occupying Belgium during World War I and World War II...

).

Between the wars


After four years of occupation, Belgium emerged ruined at the end of World War I. The king returned from Yser, the sliver of territory he controlled throughout the war, leading the victorious army and acclaimed by the population. In contrast, the government and the exiles came back discreetly, and the absence of the dead was felt strongly. Many saw themselves as victims of the occupation and sought revenge. Waves of popular violence accompanied liberation in November and December 1918 and the government responded through the judiciary punishment of collaboration with the enemy conducted between 1919 and 1921, mainly by military and civil tribunals. Shop windows were broken and houses sacked, men were harassed, and women's heads were shaved. Manufacturers who had closed their businesses sought the severe repression of those who had pursued their activities. Journalists who had boycotted and stopped writing called for harsh treatment of the newspapers that submitted to German censorship. Many people stigmatized profiteers and demanded justice. Thus in 1918, Belgium was already confronted with the problems associated with occupation that most European countries only discovered at the end of World War II.

In 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 the area of Eupen-Malmedy
Eupen-Malmedy
Eupen-Malmedy, or the East Cantons , is a group of cantons in Belgium, composed of the former Prussian districts of Malmedy and Eupen, together with the Neutral Moresnet...

, along with Prussian Moresnet, was transferred from Germany to Belgium. Neutral Moresnet was transferred to Belgium as well. An opportunity was given to the population to "protest" against the transfer by signing a register, which gathered few signatures. The Vennbahn
Vennbahn
The Vennbahn is a former railway line that was built partly across German territory, but is now entirely in Belgium, because the trackbed of the line, as well as the stations and other installations, were made Belgian territory in 1919 under a provision of the Treaty of Versailles...

 railway was also transferred to Belgium. Two former German colonies, Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 and Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

, were mandated to Belgium by the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

.

The first postwar Olympic Games
1920 Summer Olympics
The 1920 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the VII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium....

 were held in Antwerp in 1920.

After a period of alliance with France, Belgium tried to return to neutrality in the 1930s but by September 1939 war broke out in Europe and Germany invaded the Low Countries within the year.

Development of fine arts


Flemish expressionism: The expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 painting movement found a distinctive form in Flanders (James Ensor
James Ensor
James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor was a Flemish-Belgian painter and printmaker, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend for almost his entire life...

, Constant Permeke
Constant Permeke
Constant Permeke was a Belgian painter and sculptor who is considered the leading figure of Flemish expressionism.Permeke was born in Antwerp but when he was six years old the family moved to Ostend, where his father became curator of the Municipal Museum of Arts. Permeke went to school in Bruges...

, Léon Spilliaert
Leon Spilliaert
Léon Spilliaert was a Belgian symbolist painter and graphic artist.Spilliaert was born in Ostend, the oldest of seven children of Léonard-Hubert Spilliaert, who was a perfumer, and Léonie . From childhood he displayed an interest in art and drawing. A prolific doodler and autodidact, he was...

).

Belgian surrealism: The surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

 movement has major representatives in Belgium: Paul Delvaux
Paul Delvaux
Paul Delvaux was a Belgian painter, associated with Surrealism, famous for his paintings of female nudes.-Biography:...

, René Magritte
René Magritte
René François Ghislain Magritte[p] was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images...

.

The Franco-Belgian comics
Franco-Belgian comics
Franco-Belgian comics are comics that are created in Belgium and France. These countries have a long tradition in comics and comic books, where they are known as BDs, an abbreviation of bande dessinée in French and stripverhalen in Dutch...

: The Comic strip The Adventures of Tintin
The Adventures of Tintin
The Adventures of Tintin is a series of classic comic books created by Belgian artist , who wrote under the pen name of Hergé...

, one of the most popular 20th century European comics
European comics
European comics is a generalized terms for comics produced in Continental Europe. Though technically European, British comics are for historical and cultural reasons considered separate from European comics due to the existence of a well-established domestic market and traditions which more closely...

, was created in 1929 by Hergé
Hergé
Georges Prosper Remi , better known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian comics writer and artist. His best known and most substantial work is the 23 completed comic books in The Adventures of Tintin series, which he wrote and illustrated from 1929 until his death in 1983, although he was also...

. Major Belgian representatives of this popular art movement are Edgar P. Jacobs, Jijé
Jijé
Jijé was a Belgian comics artist, best known for being a seminal artist on the Spirou et Fantasio strip and the creator of one of the first major European western strips, Jerry Spring.-Biography:Born Joseph Gillain in Gedinne, Namur, he completed various art studies Jijé (13 January 1914 – 20...

, Willy Vandersteen
Willy Vandersteen
Willy Vandersteen was a Belgian creator of comic books. In a career spanning 50 years, he created a large studio and published more than 1,000 comic albums in over 25 series, selling more than 200 million copies worldwide....

 and André Franquin
André Franquin
André Franquin was an influential Belgian comics artist, whose best known comic strip creations are Gaston and Marsupilami, created while he worked on the Spirou et Fantasio comic strip from 1947 to 1969, during a period seen by many as the series' golden age.-Franquin's beginnings:Franquin was...

. See also: Franco-Belgian comics magazines
Franco-Belgian comics magazines
Belgium and France have a long tradition in comics. They have a common history for comics and magazines.In the early years of its history, magazines had a large place on the comics market and were often the only place where comics were published. Most of them were kids-targeted.In the 1970s,...

, Franco-Belgian publishing houses
Franco-Belgian publishing houses
Belgium and France have a long tradition in comics. They have a common history for comics and publishing houses....

.

Period of the Phony War


As the German army invaded Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 on September 1, 1939, the Belgian government announced its neutrality on September 3. On November 7, 1939, the King of Belgium made a joint public appeal with the Queen of the Netherlands, calling on all belligerents to accept mediation to terminate the war.

German invasion


Invasion of Belgium by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 (see Battle of Belgium
Battle of Belgium
The Battle of Belgium or Belgian Campaign formed part of the greater Battle of France, an offensive campaign by Germany during the Second World War...

) started on May 10, 1940 under the operational plan Fall Gelb and formed part of the greater Battle of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

 together with invasions of the Netherlands
Battle of the Netherlands
The Battle of the Netherlands was part of Case Yellow , the German invasion of the Low Countries and France during World War II. The battle lasted from 10 May 1940 until 14 May 1940 when the main Dutch forces surrendered...

 and Luxembourg. The Belgians put up a short-lived resistance and it took 18 days only before the country was subdued. Diplomatic considerations had led them to make very limited preparations for invasion and the attack was immediately successful. On 17 May 1940 the capital city Brussels fell to the Germans. The Belgian king surrendered on May 28, contrary to the advice of the Belgian government, having decided the Allied cause was lost. The King remained in Belgium during the war as a German prisoner while the government went into exile and continued military action in the Allied cause.

Allied liberation


Belgium was liberated late in 1944 by Allied forces, including British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 armies, including a small Belgian national contingent
1st Belgian Infantry Brigade
The Belgian 1st Infantry Brigade, also known as the "Brigade Piron", after its commander, Jean-Baptiste Piron, was a Belgian and Luxembourger army unit which fought in World War II...

. On 3 September 1944 the Welsh Guards liberated the Belgian capital city Brussels. The Second British Army seized Antwerp on 4 of September 1944, and the First Canadian Army
First Canadian Army
The First Canadian Army was the senior Canadian operational formation in Europe during the Second World War.The Army was formed in early 1942, replacing the existing unnumbered Canadian Corps, as the growing number of Canadian forces in the United Kingdom necessitated an expansion to two corps...

 began conducting combat operations around the port that same month. Antwerp became a highly prized and heavily fought-over objective due to its largely intact deep-water port facilities and that French ports remained in German hands or unusable until late in 1944. The Battle of the Scheldt
Battle of the Scheldt
The Battle of the Scheldt was a series of military operations of the Canadian 1st Army, led by Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds. The battle took place in northern Belgium and southwestern Netherlands during World War II from 2 October-8 November 1944...

 in October 1944 was fought primarily on Dutch soil, but with the objective of opening the waterway to Antwerp. The port city was also the main objective of German armies in December; the inability of the Allies to end the war in 1944 meant that Allied troops had to winter in Belgium, during which time the Ardennes Offensive
Battle of the Bulge
The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive , launched toward the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes mountain region of Wallonia in Belgium, hence its French name , and France and...

 was launched by the Germans, resulting in heavy fighting on Belgian soil that lasted into 1945.

During the war, the largest known reserves of uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 were in the Katanga
Katanga Province
Katanga Province is one of the provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Between 1971 and 1997, its official name was Shaba Province. Under the new constitution, the province was to be replaced by four smaller provinces by February 2009; this did not actually take place.Katanga's regional...

 (a province of the Belgian Congo
Belgian Congo
The Belgian Congo was the formal title of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo between King Leopold II's formal relinquishment of his personal control over the state to Belgium on 15 November 1908, and Congolese independence on 30 June 1960.-Congo Free State, 1884–1908:Until the latter...

). The Belgian company Union Minière du Haut Katanga
Union Minière du Haut Katanga
The Union Minière du Haut Katanga was a Belgian mining company, once operating in Katanga, in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 provided the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 with much of the uranium required by the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

 and the early cold war
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 (see: history of nuclear weapons
History of nuclear weapons
The history of nuclear weapons chronicles the development of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons possess enormous destructive potential derived from nuclear fission or nuclear fusion reactions...

).

See also

  • Battle of Belgium
    Battle of Belgium
    The Battle of Belgium or Belgian Campaign formed part of the greater Battle of France, an offensive campaign by Germany during the Second World War...

  • Fort Eben-Emael
    Fort Eben-Emael
    Fort Eben-Emael is an inactive Belgian fortress located between Liège and Maastricht, on the Belgian-Dutch border, near the Albert Canal, and designed to defend Belgium from a German attack across the narrow belt of Dutch territory in the region. Constructed in 1931–1935, it was reputed to be...

  • Belgian Resistance
    Belgian resistance
    Belgian resistance during World War II to the occupation of Belgium by Nazi Germany took different forms. "The Belgian Resistance" was the common name for the Netwerk van de weerstand - Réseau de Résistance or Resistance Network , a group of partisans fighting the Nazis...

  • Rexism
    Rexism
    Rexism was a fascist political movement in the first half of the 20th century in Belgium.It was the ideology of the Rexist Party , officially called Rex, founded in 1930 by Léon Degrelle, a Walloon...

  • 27th SS Volunteer Division Langemarck
  • 28th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Wallonien
  • Algemeene-SS Vlaanderen
    Algemeene-SS Vlaanderen
    The Algemeene-SS Vlaanderen , later Germaansche SS in Vlaanderen was the Flemish branch of the Germanic SS during the Nazi occupation of Belgium.-History:...

  • DeVlag
    Devlag
    Deutsch-Vlämische Arbeitsgemeinschaft , better known as DeVlag, was a pro-Nazi organization active in Flanders during the German occupation of Belgium...

  • VNV
    Flemish National Union
    The Flemish National Union was a Nationalist Flemish political party in Belgium, founded by Staf de Clercq on October 8, 1933. De Clercq became known as den Leider .-Creation:...

  • Battle of the Scheldt
    Battle of the Scheldt
    The Battle of the Scheldt was a series of military operations of the Canadian 1st Army, led by Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds. The battle took place in northern Belgium and southwestern Netherlands during World War II from 2 October-8 November 1944...

  • Battle of the Bulge
    Battle of the Bulge
    The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive , launched toward the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes mountain region of Wallonia in Belgium, hence its French name , and France and...

  • Malmedy massacre
    Malmedy massacre
    The Malmedy massacre was a war crime in which 84 American prisoners of war were murdered by their German captors during World War II. The massacre was committed on December 17, 1944, by members of Kampfgruppe Peiper , a German combat unit, during the Battle of the Bulge.The massacre, as well as...

  • Belgian armoured fighting vehicles of World War II
    Belgian armoured fighting vehicles of World War II
    The Belgian Army had approximately 200 combat vehicles at the time of the German invasion in May 1940. They were assigned in "penny packets" to various infantry and cavalry divisions for use as support weapons. The Belgian army looked upon their AFVs as defensive weapons.- The Minerva :In August...


The royal question

Main articles: Leopold III of Belgium
Leopold III of Belgium
Leopold III reigned as King of the Belgians from 1934 until 1951, when he abdicated in favour of the Heir Apparent,...

 and General strike against Leopold III of Belgium
General strike against Leopold III of Belgium
The Royal Question refers to the 1950 political conflict surrounding the question whether King Leopold III should return to Belgium after World War II. A referendum was organised, in which the majority voted in favour of his return...



A dispute over King Leopold III's conduct during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 caused civil uprisings, and eventually led to his abdication in 1951 following a state wide referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

. The dispute was caused by several facts:
  • King Leopold did not want to leave the country at the time of the German invasion to maintain the independence and monarchy of Belgium.
  • His contact with the Germans and his meeting with Hitler in Berchtesgaden
    Berchtesgaden
    Berchtesgaden is a municipality in the German Bavarian Alps. It is located in the south district of Berchtesgadener Land in Bavaria, near the border with Austria, some 30 km south of Salzburg and 180 km southeast of Munich...

     (19 November 1940).
  • His second marriage with Lilian Baels
    Lilian Baels
    Princess Lilian of Belgium best known as Lilian, Princess of Réthy, was the second wife of King Leopold III of the Belgians.-Background and education:...

     during the World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...



In Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 they voted in favour of his return (Yes), in Wallonia against (No) (especially the provinces of Liège
Liège (province)
Liège is the easternmost province of Belgium and belongs to the Walloon Region. It is an area of French and German ethnicity. It borders on the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and in Belgium the provinces of Luxembourg, Namur, Walloon Brabant , and those of Flemish Brabant and Limburg . Its...

, Hainaut and the present-day Walloon Brabant
Walloon Brabant
Walloon Brabant is a province of Wallonia in Belgium. It borders on the province of Flemish Brabant and the provinces of Liège, Namur and Hainaut . Its capital is Wavre...

; Namur
Namur (province)
Namur is a province of Wallonia, one of the three regions of Belgium. It borders on the Walloon provinces of Hainaut, Walloon Brabant, Liège and Luxembourg in Belgium, and on France. Its capital is the city of Namur...

 and Luxembourg being split about 60 (Yes)/40 (No)), 58% of No in Wallonia, 70% of Yes in Flanders, 51% of No in Brussels. Although he narrowly won the referendum, the militant socialist movement in Liège, Hainaut and other urban centres incited major protests and strikes. On the other hand, during discussions inside the Liberal Party Jean Rey
Jean Rey (politician)
Jean Rey was a Belgian lawyer and Liberal politician who became the second President of the European Commission.-Early life:...

 stated on 13 March 1950: if the Catholics considered important the majority in favour of Leopold III (57,68% in Belgium as a whole), the Walloons may also considered important their own opinion (i.e. In Wallonia only) against Leopold which had the same percentage.

Because of the probability of the escalation of the conflict, Léopold III abdicated on July 16, 1951 in favour of his 20-year-old son Baudouin.

During Leopold's exile in Switzerland (1945–1950), Prince Charles of Belgium
Prince Charles of Belgium
Prince Charles, Count of Flanders, Prince of Belgium was the second son of Albert I, King of the Belgians and Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria. Born in Brussels, he served in lieu of his older brother King Leopold III from 1944 until 1950 as Prince Regent until Leopold could return to Belgium and...

 acted as the regent.

Post-war economic growth


During the period 1945–1975, Keynesian economic theory guided politicians throughout Western Europe and this was particularly influential in Belgium. After the war, the government cancelled Belgium's debts. It was during this period that the well-known Belgian highways were built. At night, their streetlights make them easily seen from space. In addition, both the economy the average standard of living rose significantly. As noted by Robert Gildea
Robert Gildea
Robert Nigel Gildea is professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford and is the author of several influential books on 20th century French history. He was educated at Merton College, Oxford, before attending St Antony's for a D.Phil under the supervision of Theodore Zeldin. His D.Phil...

,

“Social and economic policy was designed to restore liberal capitalism tempered by social reform, as prepared for during the war. Trade unions were also involved in a price and wage policy to cut inflation and this, together with the Allied use of Antwerp as the main entry point for war supplies, produced the so-called Belgian miracle of high economic growth combined with high wages.”

In this sphere of economics, World War II marks a turning point. Because Flanders had been widely devastated during the war and had been largely agricultural since the Belgian uprising, it benefited most from the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

. Its standing as an economically backward agricultural region meant that it obtained support from Belgium's membership of the European Union and its predecessors. At the same time, Wallonia experienced a slow relative decline as the products of its mines came to be less in demand. The economic balance between the two parts of the country has remained less in favour of Wallonia than it was before 1939.

European and international integration


  • Belgium has been one of the foremost advocates of collective security within the framework of the Atlantic partnership (NATO). Belgium has been a member of the NATO since April 4, 1949
  • Belgium is part of the Benelux
    Benelux
    The Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe comprising three neighbouring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These countries are located in northwestern Europe between France and Germany...

     since 1944.
  • Belgium is one of the founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community
    European Coal and Steel Community
    The European Coal and Steel Community was a six-nation international organisation serving to unify Western Europe during the Cold War and create the foundation for the modern-day developments of the European Union...

     in July, 1952 and of the European Economic Community
    European Economic Community
    The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

     founded on March 25, 1957 by the signing of the Treaty of Rome
    Treaty of Rome
    The Treaty of Rome, officially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, was an international agreement that led to the founding of the European Economic Community on 1 January 1958. It was signed on 25 March 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany...

    .
  • Belgium, as part of the UN, had troops serving in the Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...


The second school war (1950–1959)


After the elections of 1950, a Christian-democrat government led Belgium. The minister of education Pierre Harmel
Pierre Harmel
Pierre Charles José Marie Harmel, from 1991 Count Harmel was a Belgian lawyer, Christian Democratic politician and diplomat...

 decided to increase the subsidies for the free secondary education and approved a number of laws on free education and subsidization for education.

After the elections of 1954: A socialistic and liberal government with a new minister of education Leo Collard
Leo Collard
Leo Collard was a Belgian politician, the BSP minister of public education and Mayor of Mons ....

 . Leo Collard founded a large number of National School buildings and teachers had to possess a diploma so many priests without diploma were no longer eligible.

After the elections of 1958: the School Pact(1958) made by Gaston Eyskens
Gaston Eyskens
Gaston François Marie, Viscount Eyskens was a Belgian economist, Christian Democratic politician of the CVP-PSC, and statesman.He was a six-time Prime Minister of Belgium from 1949 to 1950, 1958 to 1961 and 1968 to 1973...

 ended the school war and led to peace between liberals and Catholics.

The Congo crisis (1960–1965)


The Congo became independent in 1960. In this crisis, Belgium played an ambiguous role which led to the murder of Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Émery Lumumba was a Congolese independence leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only ten weeks later, Lumumba's government was deposed in a coup during the Congo Crisis...

 and to the establishment of Zaire
Zaire
The Republic of Zaire was the name of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo between 27 October 1971 and 17 May 1997. The name of Zaire derives from the , itself an adaptation of the Kongo word nzere or nzadi, or "the river that swallows all rivers".-Self-proclaimed Father of the Nation:In...

.

The General strike of 1960-1961


In December 1960, a strike gripped the country, but it succeeded only in Wallonia. The movement became the 1960-1961 Winter General Strike
1960-1961 Winter General Strike
1960–1961 Winter General Strike was the most important strike of the 20th century in Belgium and was called the Strike of the Century. Its triggering factor was Eyskens' government introducing a number of austerity policies under the general name Loi unique...

 a renardist
Renardism
Renardism is a theory specific to the socialism based on the thought of André Renard, combining Syndicalism and Walloon militancy.In a speech on November 17, 1960 at Charleroi, in front of a large gathering of syndicalists, André Renard partly explained the tactical aspects of his theory as...

 strike. Renée C.Fox explained the affair in a few words:

At the beginning of the 1960s (...), a major reversal in the relationship between Flanders and Wallony was taking place. Flanders had entered a vigorous, post–World War II period of industialization, and a significant percentage of the foreign capital (particularly from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

), coming into Belgium to support new industries was being invested in Flanders. In contrast, Wallony's coal mines and time-worn steel plants and factories were in crisis. The region had lost thousands of jobs and much investment capital. A new Dutch-speaking, upwardly mobile "populist bourgeoisie" was not only becoming visible and vocal in Flemish movements but also in both the local and national policy [The strike of December 1960 against the austerity law of Gaston Eyskens
Gaston Eyskens
Gaston François Marie, Viscount Eyskens was a Belgian economist, Christian Democratic politician of the CVP-PSC, and statesman.He was a six-time Prime Minister of Belgium from 1949 to 1950, 1958 to 1961 and 1968 to 1973...

 ] was replaced by a collective expression of the frustrations, anxieties, and grievances that Wallony was experiencing in response to its altered situation, and by the demands of the newly formed Mouvement populaire wallon for (...) regional autonomy for Wallony....

The tragedy of Zwartberg


On Monday, January 31, 1966, a group of about 500 angry coal miners from the mine of Zwartberg headed towards the mine of Waterschei to convince their colleagues to join the strike in protest of the announced closure of Zwartberg. At the entrance of the Waterschei mine, a small group of gendarmes
Belgian Gendarmerie
The Gendarmerie was the former paramilitary police force of Belgium. The Gendarmerie became a civilian police organisation in 1992, a status retained until January 1, 2001, when it was, together with the other existing police forces in Belgium, abolished and replaced by the Local Police and...

 awaited them, who were cornered by the protesters. When a lorry carrying a load of mining wood passed by, the miners forced the driver to drop his load. When the miners threw wood and other objects at the gendarmes, the officer in charge ordered his men to fire into the air during a first charge. When the miners threatened the gendarmes again, the gendarmes fired at the protesters, mortally wounding Jan Latos and injuring his colleague Theo Van Hecke. Later that day, Valère Sclep died after being hit on the head by a tear gas grenade.

The news of the tragedy travelled around the world and the government decided to withdraw the gendarmes and leave the maintenance of public order to Para-Commandos. The riots continued until the unions and the management reached an agreement on February 3 of the same year.

The linguistic "wars"


This Flemish resurgence has been accompanied by a corresponding shift of political power to the Flemish, who always constituted the majority of the population (around 60%). Only in 1967 was an official Dutch version of the Constitution accepted.

The linguistic wars attained their climax around 1968 with the splitting of the Catholic University of Leuven
Catholic University of Leuven
The Catholic University of Leuven, or of Louvain, was the largest, oldest and most prominent university in Belgium. The university was founded in 1425 as the University of Leuven by John IV, Duke of Brabant and approved by a Papal bull by Pope Martin V.During France's occupation of Belgium in the...

 into the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven is a Dutch-speaking university in Flanders, Belgium.It is located at the centre of the historic town of Leuven, and is a prominent part of the city, home to the university since 1425...

 and the Université Catholique de Louvain
Université catholique de Louvain
The Université catholique de Louvain, sometimes known, especially in Belgium, as UCL, is Belgium's largest French-speaking university. It is located in Louvain-la-Neuve and in Brussels...

. The government of Prime Minister Paul Vanden Boeynants
Paul Vanden Boeynants
Paul Emile François Henri Vanden Boeynants was a Belgian politician. He served as the 41st Prime Minister of Belgium for two brief periods ....

 fell over the issue in 1968.

The rise of the federal state


The successive linguistic wars have made the successive Belgian governments very unstable. The three major parties (Liberal -right wing-, Catholic -center- and, Socialist -left wing-) all split in two according to their French- or Dutch-speaking electorate. A language border was determined by the first Gilson Act of November 8, 1962. The boundaries of certain provinces, arrondissements and municipalities were modified (among others, Mouscron
Mouscron
Mouscron is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut. The Mouscron municipality includes the old communes of Dottignies , Luingne, and Herseaux .-Middle Ages:...

 became a part of Hainaut and Voeren became a part of Limburg
Limburg (Belgium)
Limburg is the easternmost province of modern Flanders, which is one of the three main political and cultural sub-divisions of modern Belgium. It is located west of the river Meuse . It borders on the Dutch provinces of North Brabant and Limburg and the Belgian provinces of Liège, Flemish Brabant...

) and facilities for linguistic minorities were introduced in 25 municipalities. On August 2, 1963, the second Gilson Act entered into force, fixing the division of Belgium into four language areas: a Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

, a French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and a German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 area, and Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 as a bilingual area with both French and Dutch as its official languages.

In 1970, there was a first state reform, which resulted in the establishment of three cultural communities: the Dutch Cultural Community, the French Cultural Community and the German Cultural Community. This reform was a response to the Flemish
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 demand for cultural autonomy. The constitutional revision of 1970 also laid the foundations for the establishment of three Regions, which was a response to the demand of the Walloons and the French-speaking inhabitants of Brussels for economic autonomy. On February 18, 1970, Prime Minister Gaston Eyskens
Gaston Eyskens
Gaston François Marie, Viscount Eyskens was a Belgian economist, Christian Democratic politician of the CVP-PSC, and statesman.He was a six-time Prime Minister of Belgium from 1949 to 1950, 1958 to 1961 and 1968 to 1973...

 announces the end of "La Belgique de papa".

The second state reform took place in 1980, when the cultural communities became Communities. The Communities assumed the competencies of the cultural communities with regard to cultural matters, and became responsible for the 'matters relating to the person', such as health and youth policy. From then on, these three Communities were known as the Flemish Community
Flemish Community
The term Flemish Community has two distinct, though related, meanings:...

, the French Community
French Community of Belgium
The French Community of Belgium is one of the three official communities in Belgium along with the Flemish Community and the German speaking Community. Although its name could suggest that it is a community of French citizens in Belgium, it is not...

 and the German-speaking Community
German-speaking Community of Belgium
The German-speaking Community of Belgium is one of the three federal communities of Belgium. Covering an area of 854 km² within the province of Liège in Wallonia, it includes nine of the eleven municipalities of the so-called East Cantons...

. Two Regions were established as well in 1980: the Flemish Region
Flemish Region
The Flemish Region is one of the three official regions of the Kingdom of Belgium—alongside the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region. Colloquially, it is usually simply referred to as Flanders, of which it is the institutional iteration within the context of the Belgian political system...

 and the Walloon Region. However, in Flanders it was decided in 1980 to immediately merge the institutions of the Community and the Region. Although the creation of a Brussels Region was provided for in 1970, the Brussels-Capital Region was not established until the third state reform.

During the third state reform in 1988 and 1989, under Prime Minister Wilfried Martens
Wilfried Martens
Wilfried Martens is a Belgian politician. He was born in Sleidinge . Martens was the 44th Prime Minister of Belgium from 3 April 1979 to 6 April 1981 and 17 December 1981 to 7 March 1992....

, the Brussels-Capital Region was established with its own regional institutions, as well as Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 institutions for community matters. The Brussels-Capital Region remained limited to 19 municipalities. Other changes included that the competencies of the Communities and Regions were expanded. One notable responsibility that was transferred to the Communities during the third state reform was education.

The fourth state reform, which took place in 1993 under Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene
Jean-Luc Dehaene
-Early life and political career:He was born in Montpellier, France, when his parents were fleeing German troops. He got into politics through the Algemeen Christelijk Werknemersverbond , a trade union which was closely linked to the Christelijke Volkspartij .In 1981, he became Minister of Social...

, consolidated the previous state reforms and turned Belgium into a fully-fledged federal state. The first article of the Belgian Constitution
Constitution of Belgium
The Constitution of Belgium dates back to 1831. Since then Belgium has been a parliamentary monarchy that applies the principles of ministerial responsibility for the government policy and the Trias Politica. The Constitution established Belgium as a centralised unitary state...

 was amended to read as follows, “Belgium is a Federal State which consists of Communities and Regions”. During the fourth state reform, the responsibilities of the Communities and the Regions were expanded again, their resources were increased and they were given more fiscal responsibilities. Other major changes included the direct election of the parliaments of the Communities and the Regions, the splitting up of the Province of Brabant
Province of Brabant
Brabant was a province of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1815 until 1830 and a province of Belgium from 1830 until 1995, when it was split into the Dutch-speaking Flemish Brabant, the French-speaking Walloon Brabant and the bilingual Brussels-Capital Region.-United Kingdom of the...

 into Flemish Brabant
Flemish Brabant
Flemish Brabant is a province of Flanders, one of the three regions of Belgium. It borders on the Belgian provinces of Antwerp, Limburg, Liège, Walloon Brabant, Hainaut and East Flanders. Flemish Brabant also completely surrounds the Brussels-Capital Region. Its capital is Leuven...

 and Walloon Brabant
Walloon Brabant
Walloon Brabant is a province of Wallonia in Belgium. It borders on the province of Flemish Brabant and the provinces of Liège, Namur and Hainaut . Its capital is Wavre...

, and the reformation of the Federal Parliament's bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 system and the relations between the Federal Parliament and the Federal Government
Belgian federal government
The Cabinet of Belgium is the executive branch of the Belgian federal government, consisting of ministers and secretaries of state drawn from the political parties which form the governing coalition. Formally, the ministers are appointed by the King...

. The first direct elections for the parliaments of the Communities and the Regions took place on May 21, 1995.

However, the fourth state reform was not the end of the process of federalization. In 2001, a fifth state reform took place, under Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt is a Belgian politician who was the 47th Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 to 2008. He is currently a Member of the European Parliament and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.- Early career :...

, with the Lambermont and the Lombard Accords. During the fifth state reform, more powers were transferred to the Communities and the Regions, with regard to agriculture, fisheries, foreign trade, development cooperation, auditing of electoral expenses and the supplementary financing of the political parties. The Regions became responsible for twelve regional taxes, and local and provincial government became a matter for the Regions. The first municipal and provincial elections under the supervision of the Regions were the 2006 municipal elections
Belgian municipal elections, 2006
The Belgian provincial and municipal elections, 2006 took place on Sunday 8 October 2006. The electors have elected the municipal counsellors of 589 cities and towns as well as the ten provincial councils...

. The functioning of the Brussels institutions was also amended during the fifth state reform, which resulted among other things in a guaranteed representation of the Flemish inhabitants of Brussels in the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region.

The fifth state reform is the last state reform to date. However, several Flemish political parties want a sixth state reform following the 2007 general election
Belgian general election, 2007
The 2007 Belgian general election took place on Sunday 10 June 2007. Voters went to the polls in order to elect new members for the Chamber of Representatives and Senate.Eligible voters were Belgian citizens 18 years and older...

, while the vast majority of Walloon politicians oppose this. Major issues that a sixth state reform would have to deal with include, among others, Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde
Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde
Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde is a Belgian electoral and judicial arrondissement in the center of the country, encompassing:* the officially bilingual Brussels-Capital Region, which coincides...

. After the 2007 elections nine months of extremely troublesome negotiations between Flemish and Walloon parties followed, resulting in the formation of the first Leterme cabinet on March 20, 2008. Decisions on further state reforms were delayed and remained a matter of considerable debate.

See also

  • Politics of Belgium
    Politics of Belgium
    Politics of Belgium takes place in a framework of a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic, constitutional monarchy, whereby the King of the Belgians is the Head of State and the Prime Minister of Belgium is the head of government in a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by...

  • Politics of Flanders
    Politics of Flanders
    Flanders is both a cultural community and an economic region within the Belgian state, and has significant autonomy.Historically, the contemporary Flemish community grew out of the Catholic southern part of the medieval XVII provinces of the Low Countries. The contemporary Belgian Flanders area...

  • Politics of Wallonia
    Politics of Wallonia
    The Politics of Wallonia concern the government of Wallonia, that is the southern Region of Belgium.The capital is Namur, where are the seats of the Government of Wallonia, the Parliament of Wallonia and the Public Service of Wallonia.-Structures:...

  • List of governments in Belgium
  • Flemish Community Commission
    Flemish Community Commission
    The Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie is the local representative of the Flemish authorities in the Brussels-Capital Region, one of the three regions of Belgium...

  • French Community Commission
    French Community Commission
    The Commission communautaire française is the local representative of the French-speaking authorities in the Brussels-Capital Region, one of the three regions of Belgium....

  • History of Wallonia
    History of Wallonia
    The history of Wallonia, from pre-historic times to the present day, is that of a territory which, since 1970, has approximately coincided with the territory of the Walloon Region, a federated component which includes the smaller German-speaking Community of Belgium . Wallonia is the name...


The fall of the Belgian economic miracle


Belgium created huge debts during times when rates were low and generated new debts to service the initial debt. Its debts amounted to about 130% of the GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 in 1992 and were reduced to about 99% in 2001 when Belgium entered the Eurozone
Eurozone
The eurozone , officially called the euro area, is an economic and monetary union of seventeen European Union member states that have adopted the euro as their common currency and sole legal tender...

. This drastic economic policy resulted in deep budget spending cuts, such as significant cuts to scientific research.

The Marc Dutroux Scandal


In 1996, Belgium's political and criminal justice systems were shaken when Marc Dutroux
Marc Dutroux
Marc Dutroux is a Belgian serial killer and child molester, convicted of having kidnapped, tortured and sexually abused six girls during 1995 and 1996, ranging in age from 8 to 19, four of whom he murdered. He was also convicted of having killed a suspected former accomplice, Bernard Weinstein,...

 was arrested and charged with several counts of murder and kidnapping. Many felt that local law enforcement had not acted competently enough to observe and eventually arrest Dutroux and his accomplices before they kidnapped at least six girls (Julie LeJeune & Melissa Russo, An Marchal & Eefje Lambrecks, Sabine Dardenne & Laetitia Delhez) of which they murdered four (Sabine & Laetitia being rescued just in time) and most probably some gang members. Dutroux went on trial in March 2004 and got a life sentence in prison.

Subsequent parliamentary inquiries indeed proved that the three main police forces were horribly incompetent, bureaucratic, with considerable degree of infighting. On top of that, the judicial system appeared to suffer from similar problems: bureaucracy, very poor communication with, and support for, the victims, slow procedures and many loopholes for criminals.

Following the scandal, on October 26, 1996, about 300,000 Belgians marched in Brussels to protest at the failures of the police force and judicial system in this affair. It was one of the largest demonstrations
Demonstration (people)
A demonstration or street protest is action by a mass group or collection of groups of people in favor of a political or other cause; it normally consists of walking in a mass march formation and either beginning with or meeting at a designated endpoint, or rally, to hear speakers.Actions such as...

 in Belgium's history and was called the "White March
White March
The White March was a demonstration in Brussels on October 20, 1996 after serial killer and criminal Marc Dutroux was arrested. The demonstrators wanted better protection for children and a better functioning justice system that could investigate the Dutroux affair independently.-Prior...

" (French: "Marche Blanche", Dutch: "Witte Mars").

The rise of the Green parties


The three-party (i.e. six plus some purely Flemish and Walloon parties) political systems got disturbed by the Green parties (the Dutch-speaking Agalev, now Groen!, and the French-speaking Ecolo
Ecolo
Ecolo is a French-speaking Belgian green political party in Wallonia, Brussels and the German-speaking Community of Belgium...

) in the 1980s which took a lot of influence after the Marc Dutroux Scandal and the "dioxin affair", a food scandal (chickens containing dioxin levels far above the maximum allowed) which would not have had any major repercussions, had it not erupted just days before the elections.

1999–present


In the 1999 Belgian general election
Belgian general election, 1999
The June 13, 1999 Belgian general elections was a Belgian election for the Belgian Chamber of Representatives and Belgian Senate. The federal general elections were held on the same day as the European elections and the regional elections. The Flemish Liberals and Democrats won the elections.The...

, the government parties suffered an historical defeat due to the so-called "dioxin affair" and Jean-Luc Dehaene
Jean-Luc Dehaene
-Early life and political career:He was born in Montpellier, France, when his parents were fleeing German troops. He got into politics through the Algemeen Christelijk Werknemersverbond , a trade union which was closely linked to the Christelijke Volkspartij .In 1981, he became Minister of Social...

's reign of eight years ended. Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt is a Belgian politician who was the 47th Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 to 2008. He is currently a Member of the European Parliament and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.- Early career :...

 formed a government of Liberals, Socialists and Greens
Green Movement
The Green Movement refers to a series of actions after the 2009 Iranian presidential election, in which protesters demanded the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office...

. For the first time in since 1958, Belgium had a government that did not include the Christian People's Party
Christian Democratic and Flemish
The Christian Democratic and Flemish is a political party of Belgium, formerly called Christian People's Party...

 (Christelijke Volkspartij).

During the Kosovo crisis of 1999, 600 Belgian paratroopers participated in Operation Allied Harbour, a NATO operation to protect and provide assistance to the huge number of ethnic Albanian refugees in Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 and Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

. That same year, 1100 Belgian soldiers left for Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

 to participate in the Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led peacekeeping
Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

 force for Kosovo. In December 1999, the Belgian Federal Government
Belgian federal government
The Cabinet of Belgium is the executive branch of the Belgian federal government, consisting of ministers and secretaries of state drawn from the political parties which form the governing coalition. Formally, the ministers are appointed by the King...

 announced that it would again pursue an active foreign policy, particularly in Central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

 where among others Belgium's former colony, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

, is situated. As soon as there would be peace in the region, Belgium would support the reconstruction.

In July 1999, Belgium's nuclear phase-out legislation was decided by the Flemish Liberals and Democrats
Flemish Liberals and Democrats
' , commonly known as Open VLD and also simply as the VLD, is a Flemish liberal political party in Belgium, created in 1992 from the former Party for Freedom and Progress and a few other politicians from other parties. The party led the government for three cabinets under Guy Verhofstadt from 1999...

-led Government including the Belgian Green party, Groen!. The phase-out law calls for each of Belgium's seven reactors to close after 40 years of operation with no new reactors
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

 built subsequently. When the law was being passed, it was speculated it would be overturned again as soon as an administration without the Greens was in power. After a new government was elected in 2003 without the Greens, there is still no indication the current Government will revoke the phase-out law after the incident at Tihange on November 22, 2002 turned public opinion against nuclear power. Christian-Democratic and Flemish in 2006 proposed reconsidering the planned phase-out and stated that it intends to bring the nuclear phase-out up again during the negotiations for forming the next government following next year's election
Belgian general election, 2007
The 2007 Belgian general election took place on Sunday 10 June 2007. Voters went to the polls in order to elect new members for the Chamber of Representatives and Senate.Eligible voters were Belgian citizens 18 years and older...

. On December 2, 2006, the Humanist Democratic Centre
Humanist Democratic Centre
The Humanist Democratic Centre is a Francophone Christian democratic political party in Belgium. The cdH currently participates in the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, the Government of the French Community and the Walloon Government.- History :...

 proposed adopting a new timetable for the phase-out.

On January 1, 1999, the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 was introduced and the Belgian franc
Belgian franc
The franc was the currency of Belgium until 2002 when the euro was introduced into circulation. It was subdivided into centimes , 100 centiem or Centime .-History:...

 ceased to exist independently, when it became fixed at one EUR=40.3399 BEF. New notes and coins were introduced on January 1, 2002. Old coins and notes lost their legal tender
Legal tender
Legal tender is a medium of payment allowed by law or recognized by a legal system to be valid for meeting a financial obligation. Paper currency is a common form of legal tender in many countries....

 status on February 28, 2002.

Belgium pursued a policy of strong anti-Iraq-war diplomacy during the Iraq crisis of 2003, and formally and officially opposed the Iraq War. The stance of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt is a Belgian politician who was the 47th Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 to 2008. He is currently a Member of the European Parliament and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.- Early career :...

 was that Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 had to leave and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 had to disarm, but that a solution had to be found by diplomatic means, and that military action could only be considered if that failed and only after approval by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

.

On January 30, 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

. However, this law did not permit adoption by same-sex partners; and as birth within a same-sex marriage did not imply affiliation, the same-sex spouse of the biological parent had no way to become the legal parent. On December 1, 2005, a controversial proposal of the Different Socialist Party (SP.A) to permit adoption was approved by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, thereby enabling legal co-parenting by same-sex couples.

Operation Odyssey Dawn


Currently Belgian Air Force
Belgian Air Force
The Air Component, formerly the Belgian Air Force, is the air arm of the Belgian Armed Forces. Originally founded in 1909, it is one of the world's first air forces, and was a pioneer in aerial combat during the First World War...

 units are operating six F-16AM 15MLU Falcon fighter jets from Araxos Air Base, Greece in support of the NATO no-fly zone
2011 military intervention in Libya
On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the 2011 Libyan civil war...

 put up in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, on the situation in Libya, is a measure that was adopted on 17 March 2011. The Security Council resolution was proposed by France, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom....

.

See also

  • History of Europe
    History of Europe
    History of Europe describes the history of humans inhabiting the European continent since it was first populated in prehistoric times to present, with the first human settlement between 45,000 and 25,000 BC.-Overview:...

  • History of European Union
  • History of Flanders
    History of Flanders
    This article describes the history of Flanders. The definition of the territory called "Flanders" , however, has varied in history.The historical county of Flanders is now split into different countries. It roughly encompassed Zeelandic Flanders in the Netherlands, French Flanders in France, and...

  • History of France
    History of France
    The history of France goes back to the arrival of the earliest human being in what is now France. Members of the genus Homo entered the area hundreds of thousands years ago, while the first modern Homo sapiens, the Cro-Magnons, arrived around 40,000 years ago...

  • History of Germany
    History of Germany
    The concept of Germany as a distinct region in central Europe can be traced to Roman commander Julius Caesar, who referred to the unconquered area east of the Rhine as Germania, thus distinguishing it from Gaul , which he had conquered. The victory of the Germanic tribes in the Battle of the...

  • History of Luxembourg
    History of Luxembourg
    The history of Luxembourg is inherently entwined with the histories of surrounding countries, peoples, and ruling dynasties. Over time, the territory of Luxembourg has been eroded, whilst its ownership has changed repeatedly, and its political independence has grown gradually.'Although recorded...

  • History of Netherlands
  • History of Wallonia
    History of Wallonia
    The history of Wallonia, from pre-historic times to the present day, is that of a territory which, since 1970, has approximately coincided with the territory of the Walloon Region, a federated component which includes the smaller German-speaking Community of Belgium . Wallonia is the name...

  • List of Belgian monarchs
  • List of Prime Ministers of Belgium
  • Politics of Belgium
    Politics of Belgium
    Politics of Belgium takes place in a framework of a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic, constitutional monarchy, whereby the King of the Belgians is the Head of State and the Prime Minister of Belgium is the head of government in a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by...


Reference and surveys


Specialty studies

  • Cook, Bernard A. Belgium: a history, 3rd ed. New York, 2004 ISBN 0-8204-5824-4
  • Dumont, Georges-Henri. Histoire de Bruxelles. Biographie d'une capitale (Brussels 1997)
  • Erbe, Michael. Belgien, Niederlande, Luxemburg: Geschichte des niederländischen Raumes. Stuttgart, 1993 ISBN 3-17-010976-6
  • Fishman, J. S. Diplomacy and Revolution. The London Conference of 1830 and the Belgian Revolt (Amsterdam 1988).
  • Mansel, Philip. "Nation Building: the Foundation of Belgium." History Today 2006 56(5): 21-27. Issn: 0018-2753 Fulltext: Ebsco
  • Pflock, Andreas. Auf vergessenen Spuren: ein Wegweiser zu Gedenkstätten in den Niederlanden, Belgien und Luxembourg
    Luxembourg
    Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

    (Reihe: Themen und Materialien). Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 2006 http://www.bpb.de/publikationen/E05KUJ,0,Auf_vergessenen_Spuren.html
  • Pirenne, Henri. Belgian Democracy, Its Early History (1910, 1915) 250 pp. history of towns in the Low Countries online free
  • Pirenne, Henri. "The Formation and Constitution of the Burgundian State (Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries)." The American Historical Review. Volume 14, Issue 3, Page 477, Apr 1909 in JSTOR
  • Polansky, Janet L. Revolution in Brussels 1787-1793 (1987)
  • Stanard, Matthew G. "Selling the Empire Between the Wars: Colonial Expositions in Belgium, 1920-1940." French Colonial History 2005 6: 159-178. Issn: 1539-3402 Fulltext: Project Muse
    Project MUSE
    Project MUSE is an online database of current and back issues of peer-reviewed humanities and social sciences journals. It was founded in 1993 by Todd Kelley and Susan Lewis and is a project of the Johns Hopkins University Press and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library. It had support from the Mellon...

  • Tollebeek, Jo. "Historical Representation and the Nation-State in Romantic Belgium (1830-1850)," Journal of the History of Ideas 59.2 (1998) 329-353 in Project Muse
    Project MUSE
    Project MUSE is an online database of current and back issues of peer-reviewed humanities and social sciences journals. It was founded in 1993 by Todd Kelley and Susan Lewis and is a project of the Johns Hopkins University Press and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library. It had support from the Mellon...

  • VanYpersele, Laurence and Rousseaux, Xavier. "Leaving the War: Popular Violence and Judicial Repression of 'Unpatriotic' Behaviour in Belgium (1918-1921)," European Review of History 2005 12(1): 3-22. Issn: 1350-7486 Fulltext: Ebsco

External links