Today in World History: August 25th

The Belgian Revolution, in which the Catholic provinces of Southern Netherlands seceded and rebelled against the rule of the Dutch, began on this day in 1830. Because of disparities between the lower, middle, and upper classes, along with major cultural differences between the two parts of the country, citizens began to rebel in the street. What was a small riot quickly grew as citizens walked out of their homes in Brussels to join the protests, with the rest of the Belgian provinces following suit quickly after. The protesters seized control and began looting factories and railroads in the area, hurting the Dutch economy. Radicals in the area began talk of secession from the Dutch, and the formation of a new country. The Dutch, led by King William I, saw major desertion from troops in the Belgian provinces, and the government formed in Brussels declared their independence from the Netherlands on the 4th of October of the same year.

Although at the beginning only the French supported the Belgian rebels’ cause, on the 20th of December, in 1830, Britain, France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia all signed the Treaty of London, which declared and guaranteed the independence of the Belgian provinces. The Netherlands refused to recognize the independence of Belgium, and only in 1839, under pressure from the other Great Powers, along with the threat of French military intervention, did the Netherlands sign the Treaty of London. This decreed that the Netherlands would grant the Belgian rebels the Flemish and French provinces of Belgium, along with Limburg and half of Luxembourg, creating Belgium as an independent and neutral country. The Netherlands, however, remained in control over Limburg, and the treaty remained in place, until 1914, when Germany invaded Belgium, breaking the contract of the treaty. The revolution also had a major economical impact, as trade and industry in the region decreased drastically, resulting in a major loss of jobs, and a movement for the reunification of the countries, called Orangism, but the movement ultimately failed.

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