Belgium Modern History

Belgium Modern History

According to Youremailverifier, Belgium did not gain state independence until 1830, but its political and cultural history dates back to the Middle Ages (Netherlands, history). The name Belgium has even older roots; it refers to the name of the Roman province (Gallia) Belgica (Belgen). The old name for the land between the Seine and the Rhine was not only kept alive by the ancient literature, but also by the fact that the Flemish bishoprics and the Cambrai monastery belonged to the Archdiocese of Reims, whose territory coincided with that of the former province of Belgica II. The immigration of Franconian groups (especially the Salian Franks) was decisive for the formation of the Germanic-Romance language border that still exists today) in the north of the province of Belgica II at the time of the Great Migration (since the 4th century). Part of the Franconian Empire since the 5th century, the areas of today’s Belgium – with the exception of Flanders – came to the divisions of Lorraine in 880/925 to the East Franconian Empire, and from 1384 gradually (including Flanders) to the Duchy of Burgundy and in 1477 with this to the Habsburgs; after the abdication of Emperor Charles V (1555) fell to the Spanish Habsburgs with the rest of the Netherlands and the Free County of Burgundy in the Burgundian District. After the separation of the northern Netherlands, the southern provinces rejoined the Spanish crown in 1579 (Union of Arras). Between 1598 and 1621, the Spanish kings left the government of this part of the country to the Austrian Archduke Albrecht and his wife Isabella, a daughter of Philip II. They negotiated the twelve-year armistice (1609–1621) with the Republic of the Netherlands. In addition to recatholization, the “time of the archdukes” brought a brief economic and cultural boom. Subsequently, the country was badly affected by the effects of the Thirty Years War.

The Southern Netherlands (1648–1815)

When the northern Netherlands finally achieved independence after a long struggle (1648), the southern Netherlands, later Belgium, remained with Spain. This is how today’s Belgian-Dutch border was essentially created. In the period after that, the southern provinces fell into a state of utter exhaustion; Antwerp was badly damaged economically by the blocking of the Scheldt and the emigration of leading circles. France soon sought to neutralize the area (Richelieu 1635), now its division between itself and the northern Netherlands, now its complete annexation (wars of conquest of Louis XIV.) and actually achieved important separations, v. a. those of Dunkirk, Lille, Arras, Valenciennes and Cambrai.

In the War of Spanish Succession (1701-13 / 14) as a theater of war particularly hard hit, the southern Netherlands came to the peace treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714) to the Austrian Habsburgs (Austrian Netherlands). The current Belgian-French border essentially results from this period. Securing them through a fortress barrier was the goal of the (northern) United Netherlands at that time, which they achieved in several contracts (1709–15, barrier treaties).

Domestically, particularism became more prominent during the Austrian period. The individual provinces were practically autonomous countries, the whole being an independent state, linked to the Austrian group of countries through a personal union. The governorship of Karl Alexander of Lorraine (1741–80, with interruptions 1744–48 during the French occupation of the country in the War of the Austrian Succession) brought liberal reforms as well as economic and cultural prosperity to the Austrian Netherlands. This was countered by the “revolution from above” (in the sense of enlightened absolutism) by Emperor Joseph II. (Autonomous rulers 1780–90) soon met with resistance: The religious edict of tolerance of 1781 and the replacement of a number of church institutions by state institutions angered the clergy, and attempts to enforce a centralized bureaucratic administration violated the provinces’ rights of co-determination.

Joseph II’s reform policy triggered the “Brabant Revolution” in 1789, during which the rebels brought Brabant and Flanders under their control and (after a revolt in Brussels on December 10, 1789) managed to withdraw the Austrian troops. In January 1790, the United Belgian States declared independence (États belgiques unis). The political disagreement of the independence movement (opposition between the conservative-class representatives, the “extras”, under the leadership of Hendrik van der Noots and the liberal current under Jan-Frans Vonck, the »Vonckists«, whose influence was quickly suppressed) made it possible for Austria to regain power by deploying troops (the entry into Brussels in December 1790). Already under French occupation from 1792–93, the area was incorporated into the French Republic on October 1, 1795 after it was conquered again by France (1794), divided into nine departments and subsequently subjected to French legal and administrative norms.

Between the world wars

The Treaty of Versailles (1919), which ended the First World War under international law, gave Belgium the German districts of Eupen and Malmedy (Eupen-Malmedy); at the same time it received the mandate of the League of Nations over Rwanda and Urundi.

With the abolition of the bound neutrality of 1839 by the Versailles Treaty, the international position of Belgium changed fundamentally. In 1920 it signed a military convention with France and in 1922 a defensive alliance with Great Britain. In its German policy, it followed the basic lines of French foreign policy: it took part in the occupation of the Ruhr area and the Rhineland and, in the course of the Franco-German rapprochement, signed the Locarno Agreements in 1925, which established a mutual security system in Western Europe.

Domestically, Catholics (i.e. the political forces organized in the Catholic Party), liberals and socialists continued the cooperation they had begun during the First World War under Prime Minister C. de Broqueville (Catholic; 1911-18), v. a. to carry out the reconstruction of the country and to implement reforms in the state and society on the broadest possible political basis. The cabinet headed by the non-party Prime Minister Léon Delacroix (* 1867, † 1929; 1918-20) supplemented the general in 1919 with the same right to vote and in the same year introduced the eight-hour day and old-age insurance. After the resignation of the H. Carton de Wiart government (Catholic; 1920-21) the socialists went into opposition in 1921 and only took part in government in the following years from 1925-27; Its long-time chairman, E. Vandervelde, signed the Locarno Agreements as Foreign Minister in 1925. Between 1921 and 1935, the country’s governments were largely based on coalitions of Catholics and Liberals, including: under the Catholic Prime Ministers Georges Theunis (* 1873, † 1944; 1921–25, 1934–35) and Henri Jaspar (* 1870, † 1939; 1926–31). After the death of King Albert I (1934), his son Leopold III climbed the mountain . the throne. 1935–37 led P. van Zeeland (Catholic) a cabinet of “national concentration” (Catholics, liberals, socialists) to reorganize state finances; this government alliance was established in 1938-39 under the socialist Prime Minister P.-H. Spaak continued.

Between the world wars, the Flemish-Walloon language dispute intensified and put a heavy strain on domestic political developments. With the “flaming” of the University of Ghent (introduction of Dutch as the language of instruction, 1930) and the language laws from 1932 to 1938, which laid down the principle of monolingualism for Flanders and Wallonia in administration, teaching, jurisdiction and the army and only for major If Brussels and the linguistic border zone continued to be bilingual, the governments tried to defuse the conflict.

Under the growing influence of v. a. of German National Socialism and Italian fascism grew stronger in the 1930s BC. a. the rex movement.

In its foreign policy, Belgium sought after Leopold III’s accession to the throne . to break the close military ties with France, in 1936, the military convention with France was canceled and a course oriented towards neutrality was adopted. After the outbreak of the Second World War (September 1939), together with the Netherlands, it launched an appeal for peace to the warring powers in November 1939, without success.

Belgium Modern History

About the author