V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > B. The French Revolution and Europe, 1789–1914 > 4. Western and Central Europe, 1815–1848 > d. The Low Countries
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1810)
d. The Low Countries
1. The Kingdom of the Netherlands, 1814–1830
1814, June 21
Protocol of the Eight Articles, concluded between William, prince of Orange, and the allied powers, created a unified kingdom of the Netherlands, which incorporated Belgium and Holland. This kingdom was to serve as a buffer against France. The prince of Orange became King WILLIAM I (r. 1815–40) on March 16, 1815.  1
1815, April
A Dutch-Belgian commission began to work on a constitution that would appeal to the Dutch tradition of republicanism and the Belgian desire for a constitutional monarchy. The result was a bicameral legislature consisting of a Chamber of Notables, appointed by the monarch, and a States General, indirectly elected by urban administrations and electoral colleges.  2
Problems of providing unity: (1) Different languages, French and Flemish in the south and Dutch in the north, split the country; (2) religious differences caused division between the Calvinist Dutch (William I was a Calvinist) and the Catholic Belgians; (3) economic and social problems differed in their origins. The Dutch economy was based on a declining trading network, which resulted in pauperization in urban areas. The Belgians were beginning to industrialize and thus experienced pauperization in the countryside. Domestic manufacturing in textiles declined. But mines and metallurgical factories had developed around Liège. A British industrialist, William Cokerill, employed 2,000 workers in machine building as early as 1812.  3
1819, Sept. 15
The government decreed that, after a transitional period, Dutch would be the only language used in the law courts.  4
Economic policies, sometimes considered mercantilist, sought to combine the interests of trade and industry. Belgian goods were to be sent on Dutch ships to the colonies, where they would be traded for products to be sold by Dutch merchants in Europe.  5
A compromise tariff set the average import duty at 10 percent, and the establishment of the Société Générale, a bank for industrial and government credit, furthered heavy industry by providing necessary financing (1822).  6
Schools were thought to be the ideal place from which to unify the nation. The government concentrated on establishing and controlling primary schools. The primary system succeeded in lowering illiteracy and, because instruction was in Dutch, reinforcing the national language. The rapidly developing bourgeoisie in the south resisted change within the secondary school system because of the emerging humanist and anticlerical attitudes of the government.  7
A royal decree closed all “Latin schools,” including the petits séminaires and other church schools. Bishops were also required to admit to the grands séminaires only students who had completed their secondary education at a public school. Facing opposition from the south and declining enrollments, the government repealed all legislation regulating secondary education but maintained the primary system in May 1830.  8
1828, July
The two Belgian parties (the Clericals and Liberals) united after a concordat with the pope gave the king the right to veto elections of bishops and the government introduced a restrictive press law. The two parties called for freedom of press, instruction, and worship, and for ministerial responsibility.  9
A hard winter worsened an economic situation in the south already difficult because overproduction had resulted in rising unemployment and bankruptcies.  10
1830, Aug. 25
THE BELGIAN REVOLUTION began when workers, spurred on by revolution in France, rioted and attacked the homes of government officials in Belgium. The liberal bourgeoisie, following violent fighting between workers and troops (Sept. 23–26), established a provisional government.  11
Oct. 4
Belgium declared independence.  12
Oct. 27
The Dutch bombarded Antwerp, which led to a conference of powers in London. These powers ordered an armistice.  13
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.