Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 17.djvu/108

This page needs to be proofread.

all children under fourteen, and in 1910 the Bel- constitutional revision. On 8 February, an eight- gian government enacted a law giving the same hour day law was enacted, and in November a subsidies to private religious schools as to public bonus was granted to every Belgian soldier re- schools, provided the former conformed with the gardless of rank. In the latest provincial election minimum standards laid down by the state for of senators, the returns were as follows: 336 Catho- the latter. In Bel^um, primary schools, of which lies, 132 Liberals, 206 Socialists, and seven others, there must be one m every commune, are adminis- The Catholics have an absolute majority in five tered by the authorities of the commime, the cen- provinces, and are strongest numerically in two tral Government contributing to their support by others. The Socialists have an absolute majority subsidies and laying down certain requirements, in only 2 provinces. The newest Cabinet of Bel- Religious instruction, established by law of 1895, gium is composed of 5 Catholics and 5 LibersJs. continues, and parents who do not wish their chil- The returns to the Chamber of Deputies in the dren to tieike the religious courses may have them latest election reveal the composition of the Cham- exempted. Of the public schools there are (31 ber as 80 Catholics, 52 Socialists, 28 Liberals. In December, 1920), 23 royal athemeums and colleges 1921 the first woman was elected to the Belgian with 1,364 pupils, 8 private colleges with 1,462 Parliament.

pupils, 97 middle class schools with 25 male pupils. History (1911-1921).— As early as 1911 Belgium

and 48 with 13,638 female pupils. For elementarv had feared for her neutrality. Though this neu-

education there are 7,959 primary schools with trality was guaranteed by the Great Powers under

960,819 pupils, 3,366 infant schools with 205,418 the Treatjr of London, 19 April, 1829, the country

pupils, and 4,193 adult schools with 174,044 pupils, felt that m view of the alarming Moroccan situa-

Of normal schools there are 24 for training sec- tion she could not afford to omit any precautions

ondaiy teachers and 75 for training elementary against its violation. Accordingly the defenses of

teachers. Of the four universities, Ghent and li^e Liege and Namur were strengthened, and gtms

are State institutions, Brussels and Louvain free, were brought from Antwerp.

In 1919-20 Brussels had 1,644 students; Ghent, 1,006; At the very first news of the ominous Austrian

Liege, 2,656; and Louvain, 2,783. Attached to the ultimatum to Servia in July, 1914, she felt more

universities are various special technical schools, keenly the danger to which she might be exposed,

with 3,034 students in 191&-20. There were also 6 On 29 July, she placed her army "upon a strength-

commercicJ high schools; the Roval Academy of ened war footing," but did not order compete

Fine Arts at Antwerp, a polytechnical school at mobilization untu two days later, when war ap-

Mons, an agricultural institute at Gembloux, and peared inevitable. On 2 August, 1914, German

four royal conservatories at Brussels, Li^e, Ghent, troops occupied Luxemburg, and on the same day

and Antwerp. ^ the German Government presented an ultimatum

When the war broke out, a Bill had been in- to Belgium, demanding within twelve hours the

troduced into the Chambers to change the State permission to move German troops across that

University of Ghent in the heart of Flanders, from country into France, promising, if permission were

a French to a Flemish school. The German in- accorded, to guarantee Belgian independence and

vaders, regardless of the laws of the land, made integrity and to pay an indemnity, and threatening

the change without any more ado, and created a that, if any resistance were encoimtered, Grermany

peculiarly awkward situation, for all those who would treat Belgium as an enemy and that the

taught and studied in the university are now looked decision of arms" would determine the subsequent

upon as traitors. The agitation for the use of relations between the two powers,

the Flemish tongue in the university continues to The Belgian Government characterized the ulti-

the extent that the Chambers are imdecided whether matum as a gross violation of international law

to establish a Flemish university, or to convert the and refused the request. On 4 August, 1914, when

present University of Ghent into a Flemish insti- the German troops had actually crossed the Belgian

tution, or merely to institute Flemish courses there, border, she appealed for the assistance of the Pow-

The school question continues to play an im- era that had guaranteed her neutrality. Sir Edward

portant part in the reli^ous and political life of Grey, the British foreign secretary, dispatched an

the country, and Cathohcs are compelled^ to wage ultimatum to Germany, requiring assurance by mid-

a continuous war for the freedom of their educa- night that Germany would respect Belgian neu-

tional establishments, against Liberal and Socialist trality. Germany refused on the ground of "military

encroachments. Illegality in the system of the necessity."

Minister of Instruction, M. Destree, Free Mason, The resistance of the Belgians was a surprise to

recently resigned, is in some measure due to CJatho- the German military authorities. From the German

lie negligence in not giving religious instruction in frontier, opposite Aix-la-Chapelle to the gap of the

schoom where, by law, it is compulsoxy. M. Destree Oise on the Franco-Belgian frontier, it would have

endeavored to supply in its stead, instruction in been but a six day march for an unresisted army,

civic ethics, claiming this as an interpretation, not The outraged Belgians unanimously and heroically

an abrogation, of the law. Since the armistice, determinea to resist. Lie^e happened to be in the

however, many Socialists seem inclined to settle the path of the German soldiers, and against Li^e a

sdiool question in a fairer way, realizing the tenacity detachment was sent under General von Emmich,

of Catholic Belgium in maintaining its rights, and but so anxious were the Germans not to lose any

their recognition, public opinion gives to the justice time that von Emmich recklessly sacrificed his men

of its claims. in order to carry the city by assault. Assault fail-

GovERNMENT.— The changes in Belgium's constitu- ing, von Emmich brought up giant 42-centimeter

tion a^tated for before the European war, are now howitzers which speedily demolished some forts en-

matenalizin^. In 1919 a drastic reform Bill was circling the city, and enabled the Germans to enter

Eassed, giving one vote and one only to evexy the town. Eight days later, all the forts were

elgian over 21 years of age. In 1920 a Bill grant- silenced,

ing unrestricted suffrage to women was defeated. After the fall of lAhge, the German cavalxy swept

but later the Chamber voted to amend the Con- over the neighboring coimtry and German armies

stitution so that any future Parliament by two- penetrated Belgium. The Belgians fell back to

thirds majority could extend the sufifrage without Louvain and there on 19 August, made their last