1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gerlache, Étienne Constantin, Baron de

GERLACHE, ÉTIENNE CONSTANTIN, Baron de (1785–1871), Belgian politician and historian, was born at Biourge, Luxemburg, on the 24th of December 1785. He studied law in Paris and practised there for some time, but settled at Liége after the establishment of the kingdom of the Netherlands. As member of the states-general he was an energetic member of the opposition, and, though he repudiated an ultramontane policy, he supported the alliance of the extreme Catholics with the Liberal party, which paved the way for the revolution of 1830. On the outbreak of disturbance in August 1830 he still, however, thought the Orange-Nassau dynasty and the union with the Dutch states essential; but his views changed, and, after holding various offices in the provisional government, he became president of congress, and brought forward the motion inviting Leopold of Saxe-Coburg to become king of the Belgians. In 1832 he was president of the chamber of representatives, and for thirty-five years he presided over the court of appeal. He presided over the Catholic congresses held at Malines between 1863 and 1867. That his early Liberal views underwent some modification is plain from the Conservative principles enunciated in his Essai sur le mouvement des partis en Belgique (Brussels, 1852). As an historian his work was strongly coloured by his anti-Dutch prejudices and his Catholic predilections. His Histoire des Pays-Bas depuis 1814 jusqu’en 1830 (Brussels, 2 vols., 1839), which reached a fourth edition in 1875, was a piece of special pleading against the Dutch domination. The most important of his other works were his Histoire de Liége (Brussels, 1843) and his Études sur Salluste et sur quelques-uns des principaux historiens de l’antiquité (Brussels, 1847).

A complete edition of his works (6 vols., Brussels, 1874–1875) contains a biography by M. Thonissen.