The Belgian Revolution

March 20, 2012 | | Comments Off on The Belgian Revolution

By: Jeffrey Hoehn (Original Work)

After Napolean was exiled to St. Helena, the Congress of Vienna met to ensure European peace after the Napoleonic wars.  One of the techniques to facilitate peace was to create strong buffer states, thus the Netherlands and Belgium were united to make the kingdom of the Netherlands under the rule of William I.  However, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands would not last long for a couple reasons.

The first reason, and probably the strongest reason, was religion.  Southern Catholics were always fighting against the freedom of religion enacted by the king of the Netherlands.  They wanted their religion (Catholicism) to dominate the state.  Other factors included the domination of the Dutch (who were centralized in the south) in areas of political, economic, and social society.  Catholic bishops in the south refused to work for the north because of the north’s mainly protestant religion.  Another reason for increased tension was the under representation of the south in the States General, even though 62% of the population resided in the southern part of the Netherlands.  There was also an argument on tariffs versus free trade between the north and south each catering to their own needs.  Southerners also were uneasy with the fact that the king of the Netherlands (William I) was from the North.  His rule was colored with the dismissal and ignorance of the south and their needs.

Oddly enough, what started the Belgian revolution in 1830 was an opera seen by Catholic partisans titled, La Muette de Portici.  The opera included a considerable factor of nationalism which sparked the Catholics seeing the play to go out in the streets after and riot.  Screaming patriotic phrases and sentiments, the rioters also took control of government buildings.  William I tried to quell the riots with force, but was unsuccessful in street fighting.  A provisional government was then established in the south under the rule of Charles Latour Rogier.  A declaration of independence soon followed, and the separation of the Netherlands into the Netherlands and Belgium was official with the London Conference in 1830.  Shortly thereafter, the Belgian Constitution was also enacted, and the Belgian Revolution of 1830 was complete.





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