Introduction Belgium is a state in Western Europe. It is home to two main linguistic groups, the Dutch-speakers, mostly Flemish, and the French-speakers, plus a small group of German-speakers. Belgium's two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia.
Duringthelasttwomillenia, theareanowadaystakenup byBelgium has undergone significant demographic, political and cultural changes.
In the Belgian Revolution of 1830 the habitants of the southern provinces of the Kingdom of Netherlands fought against the northern provinces, mostly Protestants. In a few weeks duringAugust and September, the rebellion achieved the division of Flandes and Wallonia and the Belgian formation. Only part of Luxembourg remained in personal union with the United Kingdom of the Netherlands until 1890.
The other great powers, Austria, Prussia and Russia joined to build an intermediate state between theirselvesand France was made up of the former Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, the old Austrian Netherlands and Liège, which would become the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Linguisticconflict In 1815, 218,000 of those living in the south were illiterate. Guiller-mo I concentrated his efforts in this field: in the fifteen years of his reign 1,500 schools were built in the south. There, the local language was taught.
Religiousopposition The United Kingdom of the Netherlands was made up of Catholics and Protestants. The southern state had long been Roman Catholic, while in the north was the national church of Calvinism. Guillermo I professed German Lutheranism. He tried to isolate the Catholic Church from the influence of the Roman Curia, appointed his own bishops and started a polemic with the schools, abolishing the free Catholic education.
Liberal reivindication At theend of 1820’s a group of young liberals oriented towards anticlericalism that supported Guillermo I appeared. This generation was influenced by the French liberals, that were also againstthe church headed by Carlos X. This group of young liberals exercised great influence. Joseph Lebeau, Charles Rogier, Louis de Potter, Jean-BaptisteNothomb and Benjamin Constant were all members.
Political crisis Since liberals gathered in 1825 and Catholics were supported by the king, the union of the kingdom was in a permanent crisis. In 1829 the quarrels between the King and the Liberals were further aggravated.The king turned the country into an absolute monarchy, removing the constitution and parliament and politically dividing north and south.
The Revolution of 27thof July, 1830 overthrew King Charles X of France in Paris three days later and Luis Felipe I was crowned, establishing a constitutional monarchy. This liberal revolution had a lot of support in Belgium and radicalised the environment.
Theriots of August On the 25th of August, 1830 during a performance of the opera La Muette de Portici at La Monnaie the public cried "Vive la liberté!". After the end of the play the audience left the theater and the crowd that had gathered to celebrate the anniversary of King William I, went out of control.
TheRevolution of September The late and unfortunate intervention of Guillermo I and his son led to a final break in September. These actions were interpreted as those of a force of occupation. The troops remained temporarily in Vilvoorde and Prince Guillermo met with the bourgeoisie of Brussels. On 23 September the army entered Brussels. The people's anger turned into a national uprising.
Theformation of theBelgianState Provisional Government During the fighting, a committee was formed on 23 September by Brussels dignitaries to try to control the rebellion. On September 29 the committee said that they assumed control of the government and proclaimed the independence of the Belgian provinces on October 4 and two days later appointed a commission to draft a constitution. Alsocalleda court, the general administrationorganizedanelectionforCongress. Theystartedtocallthiscommittee a "provisional government."
NationalCongress 3rd November elections were held in theNational Congress. The population that had the right to vote were men over 25 who paid high taxes. Congress met on 10thNovember for the first time and declared independence for Belgium on 4thOctober . The first president was Erasme Louis Surlet Chokier. On 25thFebruary of 1831 the provisional government was relieved of his responsibilities. The National Congress existed until the first elected parliament meton8thSeptember, 1831
TheConstitution Since 4th December, the provisional government debated on the model of the constitution to be adopted on 7thFebruary in Congress with few modifications. The constitution was a synthesis of the French constitutions of 1791, 1814 and 1830, the constitution of the Netherlands in 1815 and English constitutional law. The fundamental principles of the Constitution were the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, formation of parliament and appointing the main institution.
The king and the minister exercised the executive government’s power, though the king's power was severely restricted. The parliament consisted of two houses: the Congress and the Senate. Many individual rights were recognised: equality before the law and the right to personal freedoms, such as the right to possession, belief, religion, opinion, assembly and press. Members would be elected by voting census suffrage, which only allowed two percent of the populationtovote.
Despite the restrictions on suffrage, the constitution was the most progressive and liberal of his time, and the Belgian state is considered the first constitutional monarchy.
Themonarchy Many names were considered to receive the crown. Finally, the crown of Belgium was given to Prince Leopold, against the protests of the Catholic clergy.
EconomicimpactforBelgium The immediate consequences were disastrous for the independence of Belgium. The majority of workers lost their jobs and employees were reduced to 30% of 1829 levels. On the other hand, they obtained great benefits from the construction of a railway network. On 5th of June, 1832 introduced the new currency, the Belgian franc, and in 1835 the Banque de Belgiquewas founded.
Linguisticpolicy Reflecting the linguistic and educational policy of King Guillermo I, the Flemish language was favored. One of the first acts of the provisional government was to close all public schools. The Belgian linguistic conflict was resolved, but intensified. As a reaction against the policy of the Netherlands, Francophones were more priveledged.
Nationalpride Before the revolution of 1830 had developed national pride. Three ideas have been in conflict since the founding of the Belgian state: The nation of Belgium, orientation towards France and orientation towards the Netherlands.Despite all, Belgium was able to establish itself as a stable state which still preserves its foundations of 1830.
Belgianneutrality Belgian neutrality, stipulated in 1830/39, was violated in 1914 by Germany in the operation known as the Schlieffen Plan. The fact that Belgium didn´t participate in a single war for 84 years is considered one of the biggest successes of nineteenth-century diplomacy.