Dutch Empire/Belgian Revolution
The revolution had many causes; principally the treatment of the French-speaking Catholic Walloons in the Dutch-dominated United Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the difference of religion between the Belgians and their Dutch king. The King William I was a Calvinist. The Belgians had little influence over the economy and resented Dutch control. The Belgians also felt that they were under-represented Lower Assembly.
The Riot[edit | edit source]
Catholic partisans watched with excitement the unfolding of the July Revolution in France, details of which were swiftly reported in the newspapers.On the night of August 25, 1830, following a performance of Daniel Auber's sentimental and patriotic opera La Muette de Portici. The crowd poured into the streets after the performance, shouting patriotic slogans, and swiftly took possession of government buildings.
King William I attempted to restore the established order by force, but the royal army under Prince Frederick was unable to retake Brussels in bloody street fighting, September 23 to 26. The following day a provisional government was declared in Brussels September 26, 1830; a declaration of independence followed on October 4. In November a National Congress assembled in Brussels, and on February 7, 1831, the Belgian constitution was proclaimed. After Louis, Duke de Nemours had refused an offer of the Belgian crown, Erasme Louis Surlet de Chokier was appointed regent of Belgium on February 25, 1831. He served as regent until Leopold I took the oath as King of the Belgians on July 21, 1831.
The Ten Days Campaign[edit | edit source]
In the morning of August 2, 1831, the Dutch crossed the "border" near Poppel. The Belgian scouts had noticed the troops and a number of roads were blocked by cutting the trees around them. Within the first two days the Dutch Army has retaken Nieuwenkerk, Zondereigen, Ravels and Turnhout. On August 4 Dutch troops took Antwerp, and the Brabantic flag was taken down and the Dutch flag was hoisted. The Prince of Orange however demanded that the flag be taken down again, because it would symbolise occupation rather than a restoration of the Dutch power.
During this time the Dutch army continued its advance, capturing the cities of Geel, Diest, Boutersem, Hasselt, and Leuven. It appeared for the Belgians that the revolt was over and they would fall back under Dutch control, however they asked for help from the French on August 9, and on the next day French troops crossed the border. With Russia being unable to give help, (they were busy suppressing the Polish Revolution) the Dutch were forced to agree to a ceasefire on August 12. The last Dutch troops returned to the Netherlands around August 20 although Antwerp would remain occupied until 1832.
European Reaction[edit | edit source]
The European Powers were divided over the Belgian cry for independence. France supported Belgian Independence, while Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Great Britain all supported the Dutch. However, in the end, none of the European powers sent troops to aid the Dutch government, partly because of rebellions within some of their own borders.
Independence[edit | edit source]
On December 20, 1830, the European powers recognized Belgium's de facto independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was not until April 19, 1839 however, that the Treaty of London signed by the European powers (including the Netherlands) recognized Belgium as an independent and neutral country comprising West Flanders, East Flanders, Brabant, Antwerp, Hainaut, Namur, and Liège, as well as half of Luxembourg and Limburg. The Dutch held onto Maastricht, and Limburg with its large coalfields.