Dubois, Mary Elizabeth

Belgian revolution

The Belgian revolution was a conflict in Northwestern Europe (specifically, the Netherlands and Belgium) that resulted in the secession of the southern provinces from the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Belgium’s independence. Occurring between the dates of 25 August 1830-14 July 1831, the revolution caused European powers to recognize Belgium’s liberation.

Rioting and looting in Brussels ultimately instigated the conflict. During the aftermath, a National Congress assembled and declared independence. King William, the current monarch, attempted to restore his position through a military conquest but failed due to French intervention. On 19 April 1839, the Treaty of London was signed by European powers. This treaty recognized Belgium as an independent country.

The main cause of the revolution correlates directly to the ideological and political consequences (changes). Before the revolution, the Dutch dominion over both economic and political spheres created a disparity between the Dutch king and the Belgians. King William proposed to make Dutch the official language of Belgium, despite opposition from the majority of upper and middle classes who were French-speaking. Similarly, although 62% of the population lived in the South, they were allocated the same number of representatives in the States General as the north (the home of King William). Southerners felt significantly under-represented. Faith and religion also influenced tensions.

The consequences of this revolution are specific in one vein: the political independence that shattered pre-conceived ideology. This indicates the obvious changes brought about in a society that undergoes revolution and gains independence. A new political structure was imposed with the election of King Leopold as the new “king of the Belgians.” When a wave of uprisings passed through Europe in 1842, Leopold and Belgium remained neutral. This ideological shift with new leadership occurred precisely because of the revolution itself. Without independence, King Leopold (or the previous King William) would have had ties that may have prevented him from remaining impartial, changing the course of these uprisings and history at large.