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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Belgium

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Belgium

Postby jf42 » May 28th, 2015, 9:21 am

Greetings all,

I should be grateful if someone could explain Belgium to me. I am aware there was a degree of 'Belgian' nationalism fostered by the Revolutionary French, who naturally favoured the Walloons (I think).

Why was it that after 1815 the Francophone people of the Walloon provinces in the former 'Austrian Netherlands' were lumped with the Flemish provinces and included in the new-minted Kingdom of Netherlands? Was it simply that the Austrians were content to surrender their ante-bellum territory whole to the post-war project and the cultural distinctions of a minority, especially French, were of no consequence? If it's not asking too much, who led the independence movement in 1830 which led to the creation of the kingdom of Belgium? I am guessing it was principally a Flemish-led rising. If so, what was their beef with the Dutch?

Thanks, JF
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Re: Belgium

Postby Dominique T. » May 29th, 2015, 10:44 am

Sorry, but giving all answers would take days ! ;)

There was a Belgian nationalism long before 1830. (Even the name (Belgae) goes back to Roman times) even if these "Belgians" were gallic tribes and most Belgians are of Frankish origins.

There was a first Belgian revolution and the creation of a République des Provinces belgiques unies in 1789-1790 against the Austrians.

This 1789 revolution united conservative and progressive currents against a common enemy.

-The 1830 revolution was liberal, uniting Flemish and Walloons against the Dutch.
- There were more than 3 millions Belgians against 2 millions Dutch, yet nearly all ministers were Dutch and e.g. 85 % of the generals.
- There was industry in Belgium, not in the Dutch part.
- The Belgians, whatever their language, were catholics, the Dutch were protestants.
- There was no opposition between Flanders and Wallonia, since in BOTH parts of the country, the elite was French-speaking.
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Re: Belgium

Postby Dominique T. » May 29th, 2015, 10:51 am

jf42 wrote:Why was it that after 1815 the Francophone people of the Walloon provinces in the former 'Austrian Netherlands' were lumped with the Flemish provinces and included in the new-minted Kingdom of Netherlands?


That is a 20-21st century view. There was no opposition between Flanders and Walloonia, because even in Flanders, the nobility and the bourgeoisie spoke French.

On the other hand the region around Liège (with a French-speaking part (Liège and Namur) and a Flemish-speaking part (Limburg - Belgian Limburg and what is now Netherlands Limburg) formed the principauté de Liège) and only joined the other Belgians in 1789. Before that, the were part of the Holy German Empire.

Yes I know, it's complicated. :mrgreen:
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Re: Belgium

Postby jf42 » May 29th, 2015, 5:08 pm

Thank you, Dominique, that is very helpful. The French-speaking élite explains much. I apologise if I framed my question clumsily but - yes, it is complicated! I did know about the Belgae. we had them in southern Brittania too but -that's another story- (although some people suggest that these may have been the original 'English' settlers- but, shh, careful where you say that)

I take it that the Belgians were given no choice by the powers in the matter of becoming Nederlanders.

My next question would be what defined being 'Belgian' apart from religion but I am in no hurry. :geek:

On a slight tangent, while I have your attention, what would I call a person from C14th Hainault- a 'Hainaulter' seems clumsy. LIkewise someone from Liège: would he be a Liègeois or- what?

Many thanks
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Re: Belgium

Postby Dominique T. » May 29th, 2015, 6:23 pm

jf42 wrote: I take it that the Belgians were given no choice by the powers in the matter of becoming Nederlanders.


Indeed.

Don't forget there were about 4000 Belgians at Waterloo on each side !

That makes Waterloo a civil war for the Belgians !

On a slight tangent, while I have your attention, what would I call a person from C14th Hainault- a 'Hainaulter' seems clumsy. LIkewise someone from Liège: would he be a Liègeois or- what?

The Haine is a small river, whence Hainau(l)t.
An other reminder : Tournai was for some time part of England, and we still have a Henri VIII tower !
In French, a person form the county of Hainaut is a Hennuyer. Form the principality of Liège, a Liégeois.

My next question would be what defined being 'Belgian' apart from religion but I am in no hurry. :geek:


Very difficult and complicated question. :mrgreen: If only I could give a simple answer.

Negatively, it's easier : wer are NOT Dutch, not French, not German...

I was joking. Nowadays, since the religious element is not so important anymore, it's difficult to say. However, it's funny to see that there are many characteristics -e.g. in literature - you find as well in French Belgian literature as in Flemish Belgian literature.

We have a common culture, past, habits, characteristics, gastronomy, art, architecture, humour, self-derision.
Language is not the only thing that can bind people.

It's the kind of question you could also ask about Switzerland, Luxemburg,...
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Re: Belgium

Postby jf42 » May 29th, 2015, 7:05 pm

Dominique T. wrote:
jf42 wrote:
My next question would be what defined being 'Belgian' apart from religion but I am in no hurry. :geek:


Very difficult and complicated question. :mrgreen: If only I could give a simple answer.

Negatively, it's easier : wer are NOT Dutch, not French, not German...

I was joking. Nowadays, since the religious element is not so important anymore, it's difficult to say. However, it's funny to see that there are many characteristics -e.g. in literature - you find as well in French Belgian literature as in Flemish Belgian literature.

We have a common culture, past, habits, characteristics, gastronomy, art, architecture, humour, self-derision.
Language is not the only thing that can bind people.

It's the kind of question you could also ask about Switzerland, Luxemburg,...


Ha! Yes, few Scots would be aware that in the 12th century the King of Scots addressed charters to all the subjects of his kingdom: Scots, Angles, Britons, French and- the people of Galloway. Nowadays, of course it would be: Scots, English, Italians, Punjabis, Sikhs, Poles, Lithuanians - and the people of Galloway. We are NOT English. Oh, hang on....
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Re: Belgium

Postby DaveH » January 28th, 2016, 10:28 pm

Or as my late friend, Romain Baulesch (a Luxemburger by origin) used to say: "But then, he is a Belgian". :D

Belgium is said here to be a creation of UK foreign policy and there is quite a lot of truth in that as the best ports for mounting an invasion of the UK are in Belgium, not France. You really have to go back to mediaeval times when various statelets were combined and in particular, the whole Netherlands (or Belgium and Holland now) was ruled by Charles V, king of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor by dint of a series of fortuitous marriage contracts. When he split his empire, Spain retained the whole Netherlands. Elizabeth I did much to help the Dutch revolt to reduce Spanish power in the area and by 1581, the Dutch had largely broken away. It was from the Belgian ports that the Armada was due to pick up its soldiery 7 years later. So, in 1648 at the end of the 30 Years War, the Peace of Westphalia (the predecessor of the Congress of Vienna in many ways) recognised Dutch independence and on UK insistence, the fragment Netherlands was assigned to Austria, which had no real navy. Other bits were bishoprics under the protection of the Holy Roman Emperor - ie: Austria. This was quite handy for us as we had a few problems with the Dutch over the following 40 years until we actually took on a Dutch King! So, it was really the failure of the Fleming provinces to break away, which has shaped that fragment, which has been the cockpit of Europe for much of the time until now.

Austria liked the wealth and influence that the Netherlands and was generally supported by the Walloons (the French Catholics), while most of the resistance came from the Flemings (Dutch protestants), although this was well-managed until Joseph II overdid his centralising reforms. Over 10,000 Belgians would however still be in the Imperial army in 1815. Austria's problem was of course defending the place on the UK's behalf, although British support in the Succession War and the rapprochement with France in 7YW did make life easier. However, Joseph had begun the long Habsburg withdrawal from Germany and so, Belgium was essentially abandoned in 1794 when the mass French armies moved in. Austrian policy was thereafter one of consolidation within defendable frontiers, especially in northern Italy, so despite the wishes of many in Belgium to return to being a semi-automous part of the empire, Vienna was not interested and the Uk pursued its old policy of shoring up someone there, who was not France.
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Re: Belgium

Postby TheBibliophile » January 28th, 2016, 11:15 pm

Belgium is a federal country with I think about 10 provinces...like cantons. Each I think has its own little government and chief minister. Then theres a federal government and a Federal PM.
As far as Im aware, there are French, Dutch and German speaking areas....

How am I doing Dominique?
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Re: Belgium

Postby Dominique T. » January 29th, 2016, 10:06 am

DaveH wrote:Austria liked the wealth and influence that the Netherlands and was generally supported by the Walloons (the French Catholics), while most of the resistance came from the Flemings (Dutch protestants), although this was well-managed until Joseph II overdid his centralising reforms.


Sorry, but you are totally wrong. The Flemish-speaking people were, just like the Walloons, catholics. The 1798-99 uprising (Boerenkrijg = peasants war) had the same causes as in the Vendée or Tyrol : the French Revolution had taken away the catholic priests and was heavier in Flanders than in Wallonia.

Beware, those terms "Flanders" and "Wallonia" are typically creations of the second part of the 20th century and DIDN'T exist in the 19th.

There were nearly NO protestants in Flanders, for the simple reason that the border between Belgium and the Netherlands was exactly the limit between the protestant/Dutch north and the catholic/Belgian/Flemish South.
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Re: Belgium

Postby Dominique T. » January 29th, 2016, 10:16 am

TheBibliophile wrote:Belgium is a federal country with I think about 10 provinces...like cantons. Each I think has its own little government and chief minister. Then theres a federal government and a Federal PM.
As far as Im aware, there are French, Dutch and German speaking areas....

How am I doing Dominique?


Better ;)

Belgium is a federal country with 3 regions (Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia), 3 "communities" (Flemish, French ans German)
Region = what has to do with the place you live : roads, buildings, part of the taxes, part of the environment, etc.
Community : what is determined by the language you speak : culture, education, but even... sports !
Beware, there is a German community, but no German region, the German-speaking part of the country is part of the Walloon region, but they are independant for their education and culture.
There are also 10 provinces, but their importance is weakening. They are in fact the "départements" brought by the French Republic, and they still exist. (More than what we call a canto, which is a part of an arrondissement. = administrative subdivision)
The federal state, the regions, the communities and the provinces all have their own government, with distinc powers.

Just an exemple : when there are e.g. international or European meetings, for some matters (agriculture, environment) we have to send 4 ministers !
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