Belgian Revolution

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Belgian Revolution
Part of the Revolutions of 1830
Gustave Wappers - Episode des Journees de septembre 1830 sur la place de l'Hotel de Ville de Bruxelles.jpg
Episode of the Belgian Revolution of 1830, Gustaf Wappers (1834), (Museum of Fine Art, Brussels)
Date25 August 1830 – 21 July 1831
Location
Result

Belgian victory

  • Main European power recognition of Belgium's de facto independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Belligerents
Flag of Belgium (1830).svg Belgian rebels
Supported by:
Flag of France.svg France
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  United Netherlands
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Belgium (1830).svg King Leopold I
Flag of Belgium (1830).svg Charles Rogier
Flag of Belgium (1830).svg Erasme Surlet de Chokier
Flag of France.svg King Louis-Philippe
Flag of France.svg Étienne Maurice Gérard
Flag of the Netherlands.svg King William I
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Crown Prince William
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Prince Frederick
Strength
Flag of Belgium (1830).svg Unknown
Flag of France.svg 60,000 men [1]
Flag of the Netherlands.svg 50,000 men [2]

The Belgian Revolution (French : Révolution belge, Dutch : Belgische Revolutie/opstand/omwenteling) was the conflict which led to the secession of the southern provinces (mainly the former Southern Netherlands) from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the establishment of an independent Kingdom of Belgium.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third-most-widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals. It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession. It could involve a violent or peaceful process but these do not change the nature of the outcome, which is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from.

Contents

The people of the south were mainly Dutch-speaking Flemings and French-speaking Walloons. Both peoples were traditionally Roman Catholic as contrasted with the largely Protestant (Dutch Reformed) people of the north. Many outspoken liberals regarded King William I's rule as despotic. There were high levels of unemployment and industrial unrest among the working classes. [3]

The Flemish or Flemings are a Germanic ethnic group native to Flanders, in modern Belgium, who speak Flemish, but mostly use the Dutch written language. They are one of two principal ethnic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons. Flemish people make up the majority of the Belgian population. Historically, all inhabitants of the medieval County of Flanders were referred to as "Flemings", irrespective of the language spoken. The contemporary region of Flanders comprises a part of this historical county, as well as parts of the medieval duchy of Brabant and the medieval county of Loon.

Walloons French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia

Walloons are a Romance ethnic group native to Belgium, principally its southern region of Wallonia, who speak French and Walloon. Walloons are a distinctive ethnic community within Belgium. Important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people.

William I of the Netherlands King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg 1815 - 1840

William I was a Prince of Orange and the first King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

On 25 August 1830, riots erupted in Brussels and shops were looted. Theatregoers who had just watched the nationalistic opera La muette de Portici joined the mob. Uprisings followed elsewhere in the country. Factories were occupied and machinery destroyed. Order was restored briefly after William committed troops to the Southern Provinces but rioting continued and leadership was taken up by radicals, who started talking of secession. [4]

Brussels Capital region of Belgium

Brussels, officially the Brussels-Capital Region, is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. Brussels is the most densely populated and the richest region in Belgium in terms of GDP per capita. It covers 161 km2 (62 sq mi), a relatively small area compared to the two other regions, and has a population of 1.2 million. The metropolitan area of Brussels counts over 2.1 million people, which makes it the largest in Belgium. It is also part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people.

<i>La muette de Portici</i> opera by Daniel Auber

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

Dutch units saw the mass desertion of recruits from the southern provinces and pulled out. The States-General in Brussels voted in favour of secession and declared independence. In the aftermath, a National Congress was assembled. King William refrained from future military action and appealed to the Great Powers. The resulting 1830 London Conference of major European powers recognized Belgian independence. Following the installation of Leopold I as "King of the Belgians" in 1831, King William made a belated attempt to reconquer Belgium and restore his position through a military campaign. This "Ten Days' Campaign" failed because of French military intervention. Not until 1839 did the Dutch accept the decision of the London conference and Belgian independence by signing the Treaty of London.

National Congress of Belgium constituent assembly in 1830-31 following the Belgian Revolution

The National Congress was a temporary legislative assembly in Belgium, convened in 1830 in the aftermath of the Belgian Revolution. Its purpose was to devise a national constitution for the new state, whose independence had been proclaimed on 4 October 1830 by the self-declared Provisional Government.

London Conference of 1830 diplomatic conference of the five major European powers Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and Russia to discuss the Belgian Revolution

The London Conference of 1830 brought together representatives of the five major European powers Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and Russia. At the conference, which began on 20 December, they recognized the success of the Belgian secession from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and permanently guaranteed Belgian independence.

Leopold I of Belgium German prince who became the first King of the Belgians

Leopold I was a German prince who became the first King of the Belgians following the country's independence in 1830. He reigned between July 1831 and December 1865.

United Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Limburg in 1839
1, 2 and 3 United Kingdom of the Netherlands (until 1830)
1 and 2 Kingdom of the Netherlands (after 1830)
2 Duchy of Limburg (1839-1867) (in the German Confederacy after 1839 as compensation for Waals-Luxemburg)
3 and 4 Kingdom of Belgium (after 1830)
4 and 5 Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (borders until 1830)
4 Province of Luxembourg (Waals-Luxemburg, to Belgium in 1839)
5 Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (German Luxemburg; borders after 1839)
In blue, the borders of the German Confederation. Vereinigteskoenigreich.png
The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Limburg in 1839
1, 2 and 3 United Kingdom of the Netherlands (until 1830)
1 and 2 Kingdom of the Netherlands (after 1830)
2 Duchy of Limburg (1839–1867) (in the German Confederacy after 1839 as compensation for Waals-Luxemburg)
3 and 4 Kingdom of Belgium (after 1830)
4 and 5 Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (borders until 1830)
4 Province of Luxembourg (Waals-Luxemburg, to Belgium in 1839)
5 Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (German Luxemburg; borders after 1839)
In blue, the borders of the German Confederation.

The Dutch overthrew Napoleonic rule in 1813 and, after the British-Dutch Treaty of 1814, named their state the "United Provinces of the Netherlands" or simply the "United Netherlands". After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the Congress of Vienna created a kingdom for the House of Orange-Nassau, thus combining the United Provinces of the Netherlands with the former Austrian Netherlands in order to create a strong buffer state north of France; with the unification of all the provinces the Netherlands was indeed a rising power. Symptomatic of the tenor of diplomatic bargaining at Vienna was the early proposal to reward Prussia for its staunch fight against Napoleon with the former Habsburg territory. When the British insisted on retaining the former Dutch Ceylon and the Cape Colony (which they had seized while the Netherlands was ruled by Napoleon) the new kingdom of the Netherlands was compensated with these southern provinces (modern Belgium). The union of these two areas reverted to the original cultural area of the Netherlands before the 16th century and were called the "United Kingdom of the Netherlands".

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).

Congress of Vienna Early 19th century conference of ambassadors of European states to provide a long-term peace plan for Europe

The Congress of Vienna, also called Vienna Congress, was a meeting of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich, and held in Vienna from November 1814 to June 1815, though the delegates had arrived and were already negotiating by late September 1814. The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace plan for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The goal was not simply to restore old boundaries but to resize the main powers so they could balance each other and remain at peace. The leaders were conservatives with little use for republicanism or revolution, both of which threatened to upset the status quo in Europe. France lost all its recent conquests while Prussia, Austria and Russia made major territorial gains. Prussia added smaller German states in the west, Swedish Pomerania and 60% of the Kingdom of Saxony; Austria gained Venice and much of northern Italy. Russia gained parts of Poland. The new Kingdom of the Netherlands had been created just months before, and included formerly Austrian territory that in 1830 became Belgium.

House of Orange-Nassau branch of the European House of Nassau

The House of Orange-Nassau, a branch of the European House of Nassau, has played a central role in the politics and government of the Netherlands and Europe especially since William the Silent organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) led to an independent Dutch state.

Causes of the Revolution

The Belgian Revolution had many causes and consequences; the main causes were the domination of the Dutch over the economic, political, and social institutions of the Kingdom . Catholic bishops in the south viewed the Protestant-majority north with suspicion, and had forbidden working for the new government. This rule, originated in 1815 by Maurice-Jean de Broglie, the French nobleman who was bishop of Ghent, caused an under-representation of Southerners in government apparatus and the army.

United Kingdom of the Netherlands kingdom in Western Europe between 1813–1815

The United Kingdom of the Netherlands is the unofficial name given to the Kingdom of the Netherlands as it existed between 1815 and 1839. The United Netherlands was created in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars through the fusion of territories that had belonged to the former Dutch Republic, Austrian Netherlands, and Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The polity was a constitutional monarchy, ruled by William I of the House of Orange-Nassau.

Maurice-Jean de Broglie French bishop

Maurice-Jean Madeleine de Broglie was a French aristocrat and bishop. He was the son of Marshal of France Victor-Francois, Duc de Broglie, created, by Emperor Francis I, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, a title which was to be hereditary in the family.

The traditional economy of trade and an incipient Industrial Revolution were also centred in the present day Netherlands, particularly in the large port of Amsterdam. Furthermore, although 62% of the population lived in the South, they were assigned the same number of representatives in the States General. At the most basic level, the North was for free trade, while less-developed local industries in the South called for the protection of tariffs. Free trade lowered the price of bread, made from wheat imported through the reviving port of Antwerp; at the same time, these imports from the Baltic depressed agriculture in Southern grain-growing regions.

The more numerous Northern provinces represented a majority in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands' elected Lower Assembly, and therefore the more populous Southerners felt significantly under-represented. King William I was from the North, lived in the present day Netherlands, and largely ignored the demands for greater autonomy. His more progressive and amiable representative living in Brussels, which was the twin capital, was the Crown-Prince William, later King William II, who had some popularity among the upper class but none among peasants and workers.

A linguistic reform in 1823 was intended to make Dutch the official language in the Flemish provinces, since it was the language of most of the Flemish population. This reform met with strong opposition from the upper and middle classes who at the time were mostly French-speaking. [5] On 4 June 1830, this reform was abolished. [6]

Religion was another cause of the Belgian Revolution. In the politics of the south Roman Catholicism was the important factor. Its partisans fought against the freedom of religion proclaimed by William which was at that time still supported by the liberal faction. [7] Over time the (southern) liberal faction began to support the Catholics, partly to accomplish its own goals: freedom of education and freedom of the press. [8]

The Belgian Revolution of 1830 crystallised this antagonism. The language policy of King William was abolished, but no oppression was used; the leading class did not need to be forced to use French. [9]

"Night at the opera"

Charles Rogier leads the 250 revolutionary volunteers from Liege to Brussels (Charles Soubre, 1878) Rogier a la tete des volontaires de Liege (Soubre, 1878).jpg
Charles Rogier leads the 250 revolutionary volunteers from Liège to Brussels (Charles Soubre, 1878)

Catholic partisans watched with excitement the unfolding of the July Revolution in France, details of which were swiftly reported in the newspapers. On 25 August 1830, at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, an uprising followed a special performance, in honor of William I's birthday, of Daniel Auber's La Muette de Portici (The Mute Girl of Portici), a sentimental and patriotic opera set against Masaniello's uprising against the Spanish masters of Naples in the 17th century. After the duet, "Amour sacré de la patrie", (Sacred love of Fatherland) with Adolphe Nourrit in the tenor role, many audience members left the theater and joined the riots which had already begun. [10] The crowd poured into the streets shouting patriotic slogans. The rioters swiftly took possession of government buildings. The following days saw an explosion of the desperate and exasperated proletariat of Brussels, who rallied around the newly created flag of the Brussels independence movement which was fastened to a standard with shoelaces during a street fight and used to lead a counter-charge against the forces of Prince William.

Belgian rebels on the barricade of the Place Royale facing the Parc de Bruxelles in Brussels (1830). Attaque du parc de Bruxelles.jpg
Belgian rebels on the barricade of the Place Royale facing the Parc de Bruxelles in Brussels (1830).

William I sent his two sons, Crown-Prince William and Prince Frederik to quell the riots. William was asked by the Burghers of Brussels to come to the town alone, with no troops, for a meeting; this he did, despite the risks. [11] :390 The affable and moderate Crown Prince William, who represented the monarchy in Brussels, was convinced by the Estates-General on 1 September that the administrative separation of north and south was the only viable solution to the crisis. His father rejected the terms of accommodation that Prince William proposed. King William I attempted to restore the established order by force, but the 8,000 Dutch troops under Prince Frederik were unable to retake Brussels in bloody street fighting (23–26 September). [12] The army was withdrawn to the fortresses of Maastricht, Venlo, and Antwerp, and when the Northern commander of Antwerp bombarded the town, claiming a breach of a ceasefire, the whole of the Southern provinces was incensed. Any opportunity to quell the breach was lost on 26 September when a National Congress was summoned to draw up a Constitution and the Provisional Government was established under Charles Latour Rogier. A Declaration of Independence followed on 4 October 1830.

The European powers and an independent Belgium

French partition plan Partition-plan-Talleyrand-en.svg
French partition plan

On 20 December 1830 the London Conference of 1830 brought together five major European powers, Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and Russia. At first the European powers were divided over the Belgian cry for independence. The Napoleonic Wars were still fresh in the memories of Europeans, so when the French, under the recently installed July Monarchy, supported Belgian independence, the other powers unsurprisingly supported the continued union of the Provinces of the Netherlands. Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Great Britain all supported the somewhat authoritarian Dutch king, many fearing the French would annex an independent Belgium (particularly the British: see Talleyrand partition plan for Belgium). However, in the end, none of the European powers sent troops to aid the Dutch government, partly because of rebellions within some of their own borders (the Russians were occupied with the November Uprising in Poland and Prussia was saddled with war debt). Britain came to see the benefits of isolating France geographically.

Accession of King Leopold

Leopold taking the constitutional oath. By Gustaf Wappers Prestation de serment du roi Leopold Ier.JPG
Leopold taking the constitutional oath. By Gustaf Wappers

In November 1830, the National Congress of Belgium was established to create a constitution for the new state. The Congress decided that Belgium would be a popular, constitutional monarchy. On 7 February 1831, the Belgian Constitution was proclaimed. However, no actual monarch yet sat on the throne.

The Congress refused to consider any candidate from the Dutch ruling house of Orange-Nassau. [13] Eventually the Congress drew up a shortlist of three candidates, all of whom were French. This itself led to political opposition, and Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who had been considered at an early stage but dropped due to French opposition, was proposed again. [14] On 22 April 1831, Leopold was approached by a Belgian delegation at Marlborough House to officially offer him the throne. [15] At first reluctant to accept, [16] he eventually took up the offer, and after an enthusiastic popular welcome on his way to Brussels, [17] Leopold I of Belgium took his oath as king on 21 July 1831.

21 July is generally used to mark the end of the revolution and the start of the Kingdom of Belgium. It is celebrated each year as Belgian National Day.

Post-independence

Ten Days' Campaign

King William was not satisfied with the settlement drawn up in London and did not accept Belgium's claim of independence: it divided his kingdom and drastically affected his Treasury. From 2–12 August 1831 the Dutch army, headed by the Dutch princes, invaded Belgium, in the so-called "Ten Days' Campaign", and defeated a makeshift Belgian force near Hasselt and Leuven. Only the appearance of a French army under Marshal Gérard caused the Dutch to stop their advance. While the victorious initial campaign gave the Dutch an advantageous position in subsequent negotiations, the Dutch were compelled to agree to an indefinite armistice, although they continued to hold the Antwerp Citadel and occasionally bombarded the city until French forces forced them out in December 1832. William I would refuse to recognize a Belgian state until April 1839, when he had to yield under pressure by the Treaty of London and reluctantly recognized a border which, with the exception of Limburg and Luxembourg, was basically the border of 1790.

Germany's defiance of the 1839 Treaty of London in 1914 outraged British opinion The Scrap of Paper - Enlist Today.jpg
Germany's defiance of the 1839 Treaty of London in 1914 outraged British opinion

1839 Treaty of London

On 19 April 1839 the Treaty of London signed by the European powers (including the Netherlands) recognized Belgium as an independent and neutral country comprising West Flanders, East Flanders, Brabant, Antwerp, Hainaut, Namur, and Liège, as well as half of Luxembourg and Limburg. The Dutch army, however, held onto Maastricht, and as a result the Netherlands kept the eastern half of Limburg and its large coalfields. [18]

Germany broke the treaty in 1914 when it invaded Belgium, dismissing British protests over a "scrap of paper." [19]

Orangism

As early as 1830 a movement started for the reunification of Belgium and the Netherlands, called Orangism (after the Dutch royal color of orange), which was active in Flanders and Brussels. But industrial cities, like Liège, also had a strong Orangist faction. [20] The movement met with strong disapproval from the authorities. Between 1831 and 1834, 32 incidents of violence against Orangists were mentioned in the press and in 1834 Minister of Justice Lebeau banned expressions of Orangism in the public sphere, enforced with heavy penalties. [21]

Cinquantenaire (50th anniversary)

The golden jubilee of independence set up the Cinquantenaire park complex in Brussels.

175th anniversary commemoration

"175 Years of Belgium" coin 2005 Belgium 100 Euro 175 Years Belgium front.JPG
"175 Years of Belgium" coin

In 2005, the Belgian revolution of 1830 was depicted in one of the highest value Belgian coins ever minted, the 100 euro "175 Years of Belgium" coin. The obverse depicts a detail from Wappers' painting Scene of the September Days in 1830.

See also

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References

  1. A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, by Spencer C. Tucker, 2009, p. 1156
  2. A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, by Spencer C. Tucker, 2009, p. 1156
  3. E.H. Kossmann, The Low Countries 1780-1940 (1978) pp 151-54
  4. Paul W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 (1994) pp 671-91
  5. E.H. Kossmann, De lage landen 1780/1980. Deel 1 1780-1914, 1986, Amsterdam, p. 128
  6. Jacques Logie, De la régionalisation à l'indépendance, 1830, Duculot, 1980, Paris-Gembloux, p. 21
  7. E.H. Kossmann, De lage landen 1780/1980. Deel 1 1780-1914, 1986, Amsterdam, p. 123
  8. E.H. Kossmann, De lage landen 1780/1980. Deel 1 1780-1914, 1986, Amsterdam, p. 129
  9. E.H. Kossmann, De lage landen 1780/1980. Deel 1 1780-1914, 1986, Amsterdam, p. 148
  10. Slatin, Sonia. "Opera and Revolution: La Muette de Portici and the Belgian Revolution of 1830 Revisited", Journal of Musicological Research 3 (1979), 53–54.
  11. Porter, Maj Gen Whitworth (1889). History of the Corps of Royal Engineers Vol I. Chatham: The Institution of Royal Engineers.
  12. Ministerie van Defensie [ permanent dead link ]
  13. Pirenne 1948, p. 11.
  14. Pirenne 1948, p. 12.
  15. Pirenne 1948, p. 26.
  16. Pirenne 1948, pp. 26-7.
  17. Pirenne 1948, p. 29.
  18. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 (1994) pp 716-18
  19. Larry Zuckerman (2004). The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I. New York University Press. p. 43.
  20. Rolf Falter, 1830 De scheiding van Nederland, België en Luxemburg, 2005, Lannoo
  21. Universiteit Gent

Bibliography