History of Belgium

The history of Belgium, from pre-history to the present day, is intertwined with the histories of its European neighbours, in particular those of the Netherlands and Luxembourg. 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".


Before independence


Flint knives discovered in Belgian caves

The earliest Neolithic 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 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.[1][2]

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.[3] 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. 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.[2]

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.[4] The Seine-Oise-Marne culture spread into the Ardennes, and is associated with megalithic sites there (for example Wéris), 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.[5] The same pattern continues into the late Neolithic and early Bronze 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 from around 1750 BC. Three possibly related cultures arrived in sequence. First the Urnfield culture arrived (for example, tumuli are found at Ravels and Hamont-Achel in the Campine). Then, coming into the Iron Age, the Hallstatt culture, and the La Tène culture. All three of these are associated with Celtic languages, 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 Celtic tribes settled in the region and traded with the Mediterranean world. From c. 150 BC, the first coins came into use.

When Julius Caesar arrived in the area, as recorded in his De Bello Gallico, the inhabitants of Belgium and northwestern France were known as the Belgae (after whom modern Belgium is named), and they were considered to be the northern part of Gaul. 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 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 and Nordwestblock.)[6]

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. According to Tacitus, 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.[7] 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.[8]


By 51BC, the Belgae were overrun by the armies of Julius Caesar, as described in his chronicle De Bello Gallico.

The Roman province Gallia Belgica in around 120 CE. (For a map in 58 BC, see Gallic Wars)

In this same work Julius Caesar referred to the Belgae as "the bravest of all the Gauls" ("horum omnium fortissimi sunt belgae").

What is now Belgium flourished as a province of Rome. This province was much larger than the modern Belgium and included five cities: Nemetacum (Arras), Divodurum (Metz), Bagacum (Bavay), Aduatuca (Tongeren), Durocorturum (Reims).

At the northeast was the neighbouring province of Germania Inferior. Its cities were Traiectum ad Mosam (Maastricht), Ulpia Noviomagus (Nijmegen), Colonia Ulpia Trajana (Xanten) and Colonia Agrippina (Cologne). Both provinces include what are now known as the Low Countries.[9]

Early Middle Ages

After the Roman Empire collapsed (5th century), Germanic tribes invaded the Roman province of "Gallia". One of these peoples, the Franks, eventually managed to install a new kingdom under the rule of the Merovingian Dynasty. Clovis I 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. Christian scholars, mostly Irish monks, preached Christianity to the populace and started a wave of conversion (Saint Servatius, Saint Remacle, Saint Hadelin).

The Merovingians were short-lived and were succeeded by the Carolingian Dynasty. After Charles Martel countered the Moorish invasion from Spain (732 — Poitiers), the King Charlemagne (born close to Liège in Herstal or Jupille) brought a huge part of Europe under his rule and was crowned the "Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire" by the Pope Leo III (800 in Aachen).

The Vikings were defeated in 891 by Arnulf of Carinthia near Leuven. The Frankish lands were divided and reunified several times under the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties, but eventually were firmly divided into France and the Holy Roman Empire. The parts of the County of Flanders stretching out west of the river Scheldt (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 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) had become an overwhelmingly Germanized and Germanic language-speaking area, whereas in the southern part people had continued to be Roman and spoke derivatives of Vulgar Latin.

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:

During the 11th and 12th centuries, the Rheno-Mosan or Mosan art movement flourished in the region moving its centre from Cologne and Trier to Liège, Maastricht and Aachen. Some masterpieces of this Romanesque art are the shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral, the Baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège by Renier de Huy, the Stavelot Triptych, the shrine of Saint Remacle in Stavelot, the shrine of Saint Servatius in Maastricht or, Notger's gospel in Liège.

13th-18th centuries

In this period, many cities, including Ypres, Bruges and Antwerp gained independence.[citation needed] The Hanseatic League stimulated trade in the region, and the period saw the erection of many gothic cathedrals and city halls.[citation needed] 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 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. Undaunted, Philip launched a new campaign that ended with the inconclusive Battle of Mons-en-Pévèle in 1304. The king imposed harsh peace terms on Flanders, which included ceding the important textile-making centers of Lille and Douai. 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 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.

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By 1433 most of the Belgian and Luxembourgian territory along with much of the rest of the Low Countries became part of Burgundy under Philip the Good. When Mary of Burgundy, granddaughter of Philip the Good married Maximilian I, the Low Countries became Habsburg territory. Their son, Philip I of Castile (Philip the Handsome) was the father of the later Charles V. The Holy Roman Empire was unified with Spain under the Habsburg Dynasty after Charles V inherited several domains.

Especially during the Burgundy period (the 15th and 16th centuries), Ypres, Ghent, Bruges, Brussels, and Antwerp took turns at being major European centers for commerce, industry (especially textiles) and art. The Flemish Primitives were a group of painters active primarily in the Southern Netherlands in the 15th and early 16th centuries (for example, Van Eyck and van der Weyden). Flemish tapestries hung on the walls of castles throughout Europe. See also:

The Seventeen Provinces and the Bishopric of Liège

The Pragmatic Sanction of 1549, issued by Charles V, established the Seventeen Provinces (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.

After the Burgundian regime in the Low Countries (1363–1477), the Southern Netherlands (whose area roughly encompassed that of present-day Belgium and Luxembourg) 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 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 remained linked to the Netherlands 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 and the Union of Utrecht. When Philip II, 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 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 and the Dutch Golden Age. For them, the war lasted until 1648 (the Peace of Westphalia), 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:

Rubens' Adoration of the Magii

While the United Provinces gained independence, the Southern Netherlands remained under the rule of Spain (1556–1713).

Until 1581 the history of Belgium (except the Bishopric of Liège), the grand duchy of Luxembourg and the country the Netherlands is the same: they formed the country/region of the Netherlands or the Low Countries. In Dutch, 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 European center for commerce, industry and art. The Brueghels, Peter Paul Rubens and Van Dyck's baroque paintings were created during this period. See also:

The Belgian and Luxemburgian territories (except the Bishopric of Liège) were transferred to the Austrian Habsburgs (1713–1794) after the War of the Spanish Succession when the French Bourbon Dynasty inherited Spain at the price of abandoning many Spanish possessions. They were thus called the Austrian Netherlands from 1713 to 1794. See also:


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, the Southern Netherlands 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 was dissolved. Its territory was divided over the départements Meuse-Inférieure and Ourte. Austria confirmed the loss of the Austrian Netherlands by the Treaty of Campo Formio, in 1797.

Until the establishment of the Consulate 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, heavy taxes had to be paid in gold and silver coin, while goods bought by the French were paid for with worthless assignats. During this period of systematic exploitation, about 800,000 Belgians fled the Southern Netherlands.[11] The French occupation in Belgium led to further suppression of the Dutch language across the country, including its abolition as an administrative language.[12][13] 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.[14] The measures of the successive French governments and in particular the 1798 massive conscription into the French army were particularly unpopular within the Flemish segment of the population and caused the Peasants' War.[15] The Peasants' War is often seen as the starting point of the modern Flemish movement.[16]

In 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte 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 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 Prussians under the command of General Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher at the Battle of Ligny on June 16, 1815. Meanwhile, Ney engaged the forces of the Duke of Wellington and the Prince of Orange in the Battle of Quatre Bras on the same day.

The Butte du Lion

In 1815, Napoleon's last campaign was fought out in Belgium. He attacked the Prussian and British armies then deployed in Belgium. Napoleon was finally defeated by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher at Waterloo in present-day Belgium 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 ended in a hollow French victory. Napoleon was forced to surrender and was exiled permanently.

King William I of the Netherlands had the Butte du Lion erected on the battlefield of Waterloo to commemorate the location where his son, William II of the Netherlands (the Prince of 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 and the Battle of Waterloo.

United Kingdom of the Netherlands

After Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815, the major victorious powers (Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia) agreed at Congress of Vienna on reuniting the former Austrian Netherlands and the former Dutch Republic, creating the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, 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. Most of the small and ecclesiastical states in the Holy Roman Empire 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.


Episode of the Belgian Revolution of 1830, Egide Charles Gustave Wappers (1834), in the Musée d'Art Ancien, Brussels

In August 1830, stirred by a performance of Auber's La Muette de Portici at the Brussels opera house La Monnaie (Dutch: De Munt), the Belgian Revolution 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, 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 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 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 in Poland.

The Netherlands still fought on for eight years, but in 1839, the Treaty of London (1839) was signed between the two countries. Belgium thereafter became a sovereign, independent state with a liberal constitution (constitutional monarchy). The constitution did however, limit voting rights to the haute-bourgeoisie 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. Belgium also lost Eastern Limburg, Zeeuws Vlaanderen and French Flanders (Dutch: Frans Vlaanderen) and Eupen, 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 remained in French possession, and Eupen remained within the German Confederation, although it would pass to Belgium after World War I 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, who was the representative of King William I in Brussels.
    • The treatment of the French-speaking Catholic Walloons 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, while industries in Belgium called for the protection of tariffs.
    • Low-taxed imports from the Baltic depressed agriculture in Belgian grain-growing regions.
  • At the international level:
    • French July Monarchy's support.
    • The passive agreement of the British.

From independence to World War I

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[17], 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.[citation needed]

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 (1881–97). World class writers in French include the great romantic and symbolist poet Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1949, Nobel Prize 1911), dramatists Michel de Ghelderode (1898–1962) and Henri Michaux (1899–1984), and the poet and playwright Émile Verhaeren (1855–1916), one of the founders of symbolism. Inspector Maigret, the creation of Georges Simenon (1903–89), won a wide following in translation. James Ensor (1860–1949) was an influential Expressionist painter and printmaker. Félicien Rops (1833–98) won acclaim as a graphic artist, as did surrealist painters Paul Delvaux (1897–1994) and René Magritte (1898–1967). Few other Flemish artists achieved comparable international renown, and there was a tendency for Walloon artists to move to France.


The small nation provided an ideal model for showing the value of the railways for speeding the Second Industrial Revolution. 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 in continental Europe in 1835, between Brussels and Mechelen. The first trains were drawn by Stephenson engines imported from Great Britain.[18]

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

Rise of the Socialist Party and the trade unions

Statue of Leopold II of Belgium in Ostend

The Congolese colony

Main articles: Congo Free State and Belgian Congo

At the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885 the Congo was attributed solely to Leopold II of Belgium, who named the territory the Congo Free State. King Leopold had been the principal shareholder in the Belgian trading company which established trading stations on the lower Congo between 1879 and 1884.[19] Power was finally transferred to Belgium 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, 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 who undertook his explorations mainly under the sponsorship of Leopold II, 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) 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, whose 1904 report on the Congo condemned the practice, as well as famous writers such as Mark Twain (who wrote King Leopold's Soliloquy) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness 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.

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. 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.[19]

The Cinquantenaire Arch in winter

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, 50th-Anniversary Park in Brussels). Nevertheless, Brussels became one of the major European cities for the development of the Art Nouveau style (e.g. Victor Horta, Henry van de Velde).

From WWI to WWII

World War I

A Belgian machine gunner on the front lines in 1918, firing a Chauchat gun.

When World War I began, Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg as part of the Schlieffen Plan, 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 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 and British allies time to strengthen for the Marne counteroffensive later in the year.[citation needed]

The Germans were stopped by the Allies at the front-line along the Yser, the Battle of the Yser. King Albert I stayed in Belgium with his troops to lead the army while the government withdrew to Le Havre, France. The Germans governed the occupied areas of Belgium through a General Governorate 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 including the first and second battles of Ypres. Due to the hundreds of thousands of casualties, the poppies that sprang up from the battlefield and that were immortalized in the poem In Flanders Fields, 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 and Wake of the Yser (the latter associated with Right wing extremists) in Diksmuide at the monument of The Yser tower.

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).

See also

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.[20]

In 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles the area of Eupen-Malmedy, 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 railway was also transferred to Belgium. Two former German colonies, Rwanda and Burundi, were mandated to Belgium by the League of Nations.

The first postwar Olympic Games 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 painting movement found a distinctive form in Flanders (James Ensor, Constant Permeke, Léon Spilliaert).
Belgian surrealism
The surrealism movement has major representatives in Belgium: Paul Delvaux, René Magritte.
The Franco-Belgian comics
The Comic strip The Adventures of Tintin, one of the most popular 20th century European comics, was created in 1929 by Hergé. Major Belgian representatives of this popular art movement are Edgar P. Jacobs, Jijé, Willy Vandersteen and André Franquin. See also: Franco-Belgian comics magazines, Franco-Belgian publishing houses.

World War II

Period of the Phony War

As the German army invaded Poland 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.[21]

German invasion

Invasion of Belgium by Nazi Germany (see Battle of Belgium) started on May 10, 1940 under the operational plan Fall Gelb and formed part of the greater Battle of France together with invasions of the Netherlands 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. After a fortnight the front was already west of Brussels. The Belgian king surrendered on May 28, contrary to the advice of the Belgian government, having decided the Allied cause was lost.[22] 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.[23]

Allied liberation

Belgium was liberated late in 1944 by Allied forces, including British, Canadian, and American armies, including a small Belgian national contingent. The Second British Army seized Antwerp in September 1944, and the First Canadian Army 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 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 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 were in the Katanga (a province of the Belgian Congo). The Belgian company Union Minière du Haut Katanga provided the United States with much of the uranium required by the Manhattan Project and the early cold war (see: history of nuclear weapons).

See also

After WWII

The royal question

Main articles: Leopold III of Belgium and General strike against Leopold III of Belgium

A dispute over King Leopold III's conduct during World War II caused civil uprisings, and eventually led to his abdication in 1951 following a state wide referendum. 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 (19 November 1940).
  • His second marriage with Lilian Baels during the World War II

In Flanders they voted in favour of his return (Yes), in Wallonia against (No) (especially the provinces of Liège, Hainaut and the present-day Walloon Brabant; 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 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. [24]

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 acted as the regent.

See also

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.[citation needed] In addition, both the economy the average standard of living rose significantly. As noted by Robert Gildea,

“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.”[25]

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. 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 since 1944.
  • Belgium is one of the founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community in July, 1952 and of the European Economic Community founded on March 25, 1957 by the signing of the Treaty of Rome.
  • Belgium, as part of the UN, had troops serving in the Korean War

See also

The second school war (1950–1959)

After the elections of 1950, a Christian-democrat government led Belgium. The minister of education Pierre Harmel 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 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 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 and to the establishment of Zaire.

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 a renardist 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), 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 ] 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....[26]

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 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.[27]

The linguistic wars attained their climax around 1968 with the splitting of the Catholic University of Leuven into the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the Université Catholique de Louvain. The government of Prime Minister Paul Vanden Boeynants 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 became a part of Hainaut and Voeren became a part of Limburg) 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, a French and a German language area, and Brussels as a bilingual area with both French and Dutch as its official languages.

In 1970, there was a first state reform,[28] 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 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 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, the French Community and the German-speaking Community. Two Regions were established as well in 1980: the Flemish Region 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,[29] under Prime Minister Wilfried Martens, the Brussels-Capital Region was established with its own regional institutions, as well as Dutch and French 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, consolidated the previous state reforms and turned Belgium into a fully-fledged federal state. The first article of the Belgian Constitution 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 into Flemish Brabant and Walloon Brabant, and the reformation of the Federal Parliament's bicameral system and the relations between the Federal Parliament and the Federal Government.[30] 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,[31] under Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, 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. 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, 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. 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

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 in 1992 and were reduced to about 99% in 2001 when Belgium entered the Eurozone. This drastic economic policy resulted in deep budget spending cuts, such as significant cuts to scientific research.

See also

The Marc Dutroux Scandal

In 1996, Belgium's political and criminal justice systems were shaken when Marc Dutroux 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 in Belgium's history and was called the "White March" (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) 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.

See also

  • Political parties in Belgium


In the 1999 Belgian general election, the government parties suffered an historical defeat due to the so-called "dioxin affair" and Jean-Luc Dehaene's reign of eight years ended. Guy Verhofstadt formed a government of Liberals, Socialists and Greens. For the first time in since 1958, Belgium had a government that did not include the 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 and Macedonia. That same year, 1100 Belgian soldiers left for Kosovo to participate in the Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led peacekeeping force for Kosovo. In December 1999, the Belgian Federal Government announced that it would again pursue an active foreign policy, particularly in Central Africa where among others Belgium's former colony, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 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-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 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.[32] 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[33] after the incident at Tihange on November 22, 2002 turned public opinion against nuclear power.[34] 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.[35] On December 2, 2006, the Humanist Democratic Centre proposed adopting a new timetable for the phase-out.[36]

On January 1, 1999, the euro was introduced and the Belgian franc 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 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 was that Saddam Hussein had to leave and Iraq 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.[37]

On January 30, 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage. 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 units are operating six F-16AM 15MLU Falcon fighter jets from Araxos Air Base, Greece in support of the NATO no-fly zone put up in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

See also


  1. ^ Boerderij uit de jonge steentijd ontdekt in Riemst, http://www.archeonet.be/?p=7562 
  2. ^ a b Vanmontfort (2007), "Bridging the gap. The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in a frontier zone", Documenta Praehistorica 34, http://arheologija.ff.uni-lj.si/documenta/pdf34/DPVanmontfort34.pdf 
  3. ^ Constantin; Ilett; Burnez-Lanotte (2011), ""La Hoguette, Limburg, and the Mesolithic"", in Vanmontfort; Kooijmans; Amkreutz, Pots, Farmers and Foragers: How Pottery Traditions Shed a Light on Social Interaction in the Earliest Neolithic of the Lower Rhine Area, Amsterdam University Press 
  4. ^ Vanmontfort (2004), "Inhabitées ou invisibles pour l'archéologie", Anthropologia et Praehistorica 115, https://lirias.kuleuven.be/bitstream/123456789/141810/1/Vanmontfort_2004_AP.pdfflandres.pdf 
  5. ^ "Tussen SOM en TRB, enige gedachten over het laat-Neolithicum in Nederland en België", Bulletin voor de Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiednis 54, 1983, https://www.openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/1887/2799/1/171_027.pdf 
  6. ^ Lamarcq, Danny; Rogge, Marc (1996), De Taalgrens: Van de oude tot de nieuwe Belgen, Davidsfonds
  7. ^ "Germania"chapter 2
  8. ^ Wightman, Edith Mary (1985), Gallia Belgica, University of California Press, http://books.google.com/books?id=aEyS54uSj88C  p.14
  9. ^ "Povinzen". Antikefan. http://www.antikefan.de/kulturen/rom/provinzen.html. 
  10. ^ http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/59268/Belgium
  11. ^ (English) Alexander Ganse. "Belgium under French Administration, 1795-1799". Korean Minjok Leadership Academy. http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/lowcountries/bel17951799.html. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  12. ^ (French) Jacques Leclerc (associated member of the Trésor de la langue française au Québec) (2008-11-09). "Petite histoire de la Belgique et ses conséquences linguistiques". L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde. Université Laval. http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/europe/belgiqueetat_histoire.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  13. ^ (Dutch) Daniel Suy (1997). "De Franse overheersing (1792 - 1794 - 1815)". De geschiedenis van Brussel. Flemish Community Commission (VGC). http://www.digitaalbrussel.be/thema/toerisme/geschiedenis/franseov.asp. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  14. ^ (Dutch) "Broeksele". Bruisend Brussel. University College London (UCL). 2006. http://www.dutch.ac.uk/studypacks/dutch_language/brussels/broeksele.html. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  15. ^ (French) Jacques Leclerc (associated member of the Trésor de la langue française au Québec). "Belgique - België - Belgien". Université Laval. http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/europe/belgiqueacc.htm. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  16. ^ (English) Alexander Ganse. "The Flemish Peasants War of 1798". Korean Minjok Leadership Academy. http://www.zum.de/whkmla/military/napwars/boerenkrijg.html. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  17. ^ Rondo E. Cameron, France and the economic development of Europe, 1800-1914 (2000) p. 343
  18. ^ O'Brien, Patrick (1983) Railways and the Economic Development of Western Europe, 1830-1914
  19. ^ a b Palmer, Alan (1979) The Penguin Dictionary of Twentieth Century History. London: Allen Lane; p. 42
  20. ^ Laurence VanYpersele, and Xavier Rousseaux, "Leaving the War: Popular Violence and Judicial Repression of 'Unpatriotic' Behaviour in Belgium (1918-1921). European Review of History 2005 12(1): 3-22.
  21. ^ Appendix 11 in Belgium: The Official Account of What Happened (London, 1941) p. 79
  22. ^ Chronicle of the 20th Century; editors: Derrik Mercer [et al.] London: Dorling Kindersley ISBN 0 7513 3006 X; pp. 529-31
  23. ^ Palmer, Alan (1979) The Penguin Dictionary of Twentieth Century History. London: Allen Lane ISBN 0 739 1196 4; p. 42
  24. ^ French : si les PSC jugent importante et décisive la majorité de 57,68%, les Wallons peuvent estimer tout aussi importante leur propre opposition anti-léopoldiste, dont le pourcentage est semblable in Jacques Van Offelen, Les libéraux contre le roi, Didier Hatier, Bruxelles, 1988, pp. 85-86. ISBN 2-87088-625-X
  25. ^ Surviving Hitler and Mussolini: daily life in occupied Europe by Robert Gildea
  26. ^ Renée C. Fox, In the Belgian Château, Ivan R.Dee, Chicago, page 13, 1994 ISBN 1-56663-057-6
  27. ^ [1] Ethnic structure, inequality and governance of the public sector in Belgium, Kris Deschouwer, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, January 2004
  28. ^ "Belgium". http://www.belgium.be/eportal/application?languageRedirected=yes&docId=6681.0&pageid=contentPage&languageRedirected=yes. 
  29. ^ "Belgium". http://www.belgium.be/eportal/application?languageRedirected=yes&origin=indexDisplay.jsp&docId=6684.0&pageid=contentPage&languageRedirected=yes&event=bea.portal.framework.internal.refresh. 
  30. ^ "1970 Eerste Staats Hervorming". http://www.vlaamsparlement.be/vpWeb/p3app/htmlpages/vp/HoeWerktHetVlaamsParlement/AlgemeneSituering/OntstaanEnGroeiVlaamsParlement/Mijlpalen.html#1970EersteStaatsHervorming. 
  31. ^ "Belgium". http://www.belgium.be/eportal/application?origin=indexDisplay.jsp&event=bea.portal.framework.internal.refresh&pageid=contentPage&docId=42152.0. 
  32. ^ "Essential Programme to Underpin Government Policy on Nuclear Power" (PDF). Scientific Alliance. http://www.scientific-alliance.org/pdf/essential_programme_to_underpin_government_policy_on_nuclear_power.pdf. 
  33. ^ "Antenna". http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/index.html?http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/596-8/h3.php. 
  34. ^ "Antenna". http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/index.html?http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/582/5485.html. 
  35. ^ "VRT Nieuws". http://www.vrtnieuws.net/nieuwsnet_master/versie2/nieuws/details/060429kernenergie/. 
  36. ^ "Ernenergie". http://www.vrtnieuws.net/nieuwsnet_master/versie2/nieuws/details/061202cdhkernenergie/. 
  37. ^ "Irak". Dossier. GVA. http://www.gva.be/dossiers/-i/irak/23.asp. 


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 (Reihe: Themen und Materialien). Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 2006 [2]
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

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