Belgium History

Belgium History: From the Kingdom of the Belgians to the Second World War


The uprisings that were to lead to the proclamation of the Kingdom of the Belgians began at the end of the century. XVIII, and more particularly when the Belgians rose to protest against the religious, juridical and administrative reforms implemented by Emperor Joseph II without taking into account local needs or the social context. Thus came the Brabant revolution (1789) which succeeded in driving out the Austrians, proclaiming, after having reunited the States General on 11 January 1790, the independence of the États Belgiques Unis. The Austrians, however, according to estatelearning, soon reoccupied the country, only to be driven out again by the French army, victorious at Jemappes in 1792 and at Fleurus in 1794.

After the fall of the French Empire (1814), there was the creation of a Kingdom of the Netherlands (made up of the former United Provinces, the former Austrian Netherlands, the former Principality of Liège), which was governed by William I d’Orange, starting from March 16, 1815, and which lasted fifteen years. The fundamental event in the history of Belgium, as an independent independent state, was the revolution that broke out on 25 August 1830 in Brussels and fueled by the hostility of Catholics towards the reigning house and by the Francophile preferences of the bourgeoisie. This was followed by a short, victorious war against Holland, then a national congress proclaimed the independence of Belgium on November 18, 1830 and drafted (1831) a Constitution that established freedom of expression, teaching, confession, attributed to the Parliament, the legislative power, established an electoral regime according to the census, choosing the hereditary and constitutional monarchy to represent the new state. After a crisis that lasted a few months, the choice of a king fell on Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who took the oath on 21 July 1831, thus joining in marriage, the following year, with Louise d’Orléans, daughter of the king of France. Louis Philippe.

Attacked by Holland, Belgium found itself at war with this country for some years, until William I, King of the Netherlands, recognized the independence of the new state in 1839. Starting from this date, the political life of the country is characterized by the opposition between the two great political parties, liberal and Catholic; on the death of Leopoldo I, in 1865, his son Leopoldo II (1835-1909) succeeded to the throne. During his reign, Belgium was neutral in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870; furthermore, on the initiative of the king, the African International Association was formed in 1876 and the exploration of central Africa began, which marked the beginning of the colonial era in Belgium. These initiatives materialized at the Berlin Conference in which the independent state of Congo was established (1885), under the sovereignty of the king of the Belgians, which in 1908 became a colony of Belgium. On the political level, in recent decades, the alternation in power of liberals and Catholics should be noted, while in 1893, following pressure from the left, the revision of the Constitution of 1831 was voted on, admitting among other things universal suffrage with multiple votes.. Leopold II was succeeded in 1909 by his nephew Alberto, under whose reign compulsory military service was established. During the First World War Belgium put up a fierce, courageous resistance to the German troops. As for the internal history, it should be noted that in 1930, the year of the centenary of the creation of the kingdom, the laws that sanctioned the bilingualism of Belgium with the creation of the two linguistic regions were passed. In 1934, at a time when the country was going through a serious economic crisis, Albert I died accidentally; he was succeeded by his son Leopold III, under whose reign they were granted – due to the pressure of the left caused by the formation of the popular front in France (1936) – various benefits to workers (paid holidays, 40-hour week, etc.). On the international level, Leopold III adopted a policy of independence, hoping to be able to remain neutral in case of conflict. For this reason in 1936 he renounced the alliance with France; but on May 10, 1940, Belgium was invaded by the German army and had to capitulate after eight days.

Belgium History