Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815-30)
The Congress of Vienna (1814-15) combined the northern and southern Netherlands with the Principality of Liège to form a kingdom under the House of Orange-Nassau. The Belgian consciousness promoted in the French period, v. a. But the constantly growing resentment against King Wilhelm I because of his rigid unification policy, through which the more populous Catholic South felt disadvantaged despite formal parity representation of both parts of the country, led to the connection of the Catholic and liberal opposition in 1828 and to the Belgian revolution in 1830, through which tore the southern Dutch territories away from the kingdom.
The independent state of Belgium (since 1830/31)
The revolution began as a long-range effect of the July Revolution in Paris with the uprising in Brussels on August 25, 1830 and ended with the repulsion of the northern Dutch attempt at reconquest (September 23-26/27, 1830). A provisional government was formed in Brussels, which proclaimed Belgium’s independence on October 4, 1830 (confirmed by the National Congress on November 18, 1830). According to ezinesports, Belgium is a country in Europe.
The foundations of the Belgian state were laid down by the great powers at the London Conference in 1830-31 (London Conferences and Agreements 1831), which guaranteed the country’s permanent neutrality. In terms of foreign policy, its independence was a compromise between the French desire to reverse the unification of the southern and northern Netherlands and British and German efforts to prevent the annexation of Belgium by France. Leopold (I) von Sachsen-Coburg (1831–65), elected “King of the Belgians” on June 4, 1831, swore the oath on the constitution on July 21, 1831 (national holiday), which is the model for many liberals Constitutions in Europe
It was not until April 19, 1839 that the Netherlands recognized Belgium’s independence. Now the Belgian-Dutch border was finally determined: parts of Luxembourg and Limburg were united with Belgium.
The Belgian state quickly consolidated; Trade and industry developed significantly, which had already begun during the French period, favored by the continental barrier. In the first half of the 19th century, Belgium became the most industrialized country after Great Britain. An external danger arose temporarily from the annexation plans of Napoleon III. Domestically, the liberal-clerical opposition was dominant until the socialists emerged (the Belgian Workers’ Party was founded in 1885). There were disputes v. a. about the school (Liberal Education Act of 1879, Catholic of 1895). The language question gradually brought about a conflict that ran right through the parties. The revolution initially made French the only official language. But a Flemish movement emerged from the 1840s. In 1873, 1878 and 1888 Dutch was recognized as the school, official and court language in Flanders alongside French, and in 1898 it was made equal to French in the promulgation of laws and ordinances. However, these language laws were often disregarded by the officials. In the 1880s the social question and, as its political side, the question of the right to vote came to the fore. After fierce fighting, the constitutional revision of 1893 brought universal suffrage for men.
Supported by some publicists such as É. Banning ran an active colonial policy on his own by King Leopold II (1865–1909). The Congo state, acquired by the king until 1884/85 with the help of the African researcher H. M. Stanley, had to be handed over to the Belgian state in 1908 after international protests at the inhumane exploitation system established there (»Congo Abomination«; Congo). Leopold II’s successor was his nephew Albert I (1909–34).
As early as 1906, after the Schlieffen Plan became known, Belgium had tried to win military support from Great Britain in the event of a German invasion (“Conventions anglo-belges” between the two General Staffs). At the beginning of the First World War, on August 2, 1914, Germany issued an ultimatum calling for Belgium to march through freely; This was followed by the German declaration of war and on August 4, 1914, the attack by German troops. After bitter resistance, Belgium was occupied with the exception of the small area in the north-west between Jizera and the French border; King Albert I. remained with his army as commander in chief. The Belgian government moved its seat to Le Havre on October 17, 1914. Belgium was placed under the administration of German governors-general; Activists of the Flemish Movement worked together with the German occupation authorities (in 1917 the “Council of Flanders” was founded and the country was temporarily separated into a Flemish and a Walloon administrative unit). After the withdrawal of the German troops, King Albert I returned to the capital Brussels on November 22nd, 1918.