wooden tower of several stages, protected with raw hides, used for purposes of attack; also a watch-tower, particularly one with an alarm bell; hence any detached tower or campanile containing bells, as at Evesham, but more generally the ringing room or loft of the tower of a church (see Tower).
BELGAE, a Celtic people first mentioned by Caesar, who states that they formed the third part of Gaul, and were separated from the Celtae by the Sequana (Seine) and Matrona (Marne). On the east and north their boundary was the lower Rhine, on the west the ocean. Whether Caesar means to include the Leuci, Treviri and Mediomatrici among the Belgian tribes is uncertain. According to the statement of the deputation from the Remi to Caesar (Bell. Gall. ii. 4), the Belgae were a people of German origin, who had crossed the Rhine in early times and driven out the Galli. But Caesar’s own statement (B.G. i. 1) that the Belgae differed from the Celtae in language, institutions and laws, is too sweeping (see Strabo iv. p. 176), at least as regards language, for many words and names are common to both. In any case, only the eastern districts would have been affected by invaders from over the Rhine, the chief seat of the Belgae proper being in the west, the country occupied by the Bellovaci, Ambiani and Atrebates, to which it is probable (although the reading is uncertain) that Caesar gives the distinctive name Belgium (corresponding to the old provinces of Picardy and Artois). The question is fully discussed by T. R. Holmes (Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul, 1899), who comes to the conclusion that “when the Reman delegates told Caesar that the Belgae were descended from the Germans, they probably only meant that the ancestors of the Belgic conquerors had formerly dwelt in Germany, and this is equally true of the ancestors of the Gauls who gave their name to the Celtae; but, on the other hand, it is quite possible that in the veins of some of the Belgae flowed the blood of genuine German forefathers.” W. Ridgeway (Early Age of Greece, 1901) considers that the Belgic tribes were Cimbri, “who had moved directly across the Rhine into north-eastern Gaul.” No definite number of Belgian tribes is given by Caesar; according to Strabo (iv. p. 196) they were fifteen in all. The Belgae had also made their way over to Britain in Caesar’s time (B.G. ii. 4, v. 12), and settled in some of the southern counties (Wilts, Hants and Somerset). Among their towns were Magnus Portus (Portsmouth) and Venta Belgarum (Winchester).
In 57 B.C., after the defeat of Ariovistus, the Belgae formed a coalition against Caesar, and in 52 took part in the general rising under Vercingetorix. After their final subjugation, Caesar combined the territory of the Belgae, Celtae and Aquitani into a single province (Gallia Comata). Augustus, however, finding it too unwieldy, again divided it into three provinces, one of which was Belgica, bounded on the west by the Seine and the Arar (Saône); on the north by the North Sea; on the east by the Rhine from its mouth to the Lacus Brigantinus (Lake Constance). Its southernmost district embraced the west of Switzerland. The capital and residence of the governor of the province was Durocortorum Remorum (Reims). Under Diocletian, Belgica Prima (capital, Augusta Trevirorum, Trier) and Secunda (capital, Reims) formed part of the “diocese” of Gaul.
See A. G. B. Schayes, La Belgique et les Pays-Bas avant et pendant la domination romaine (2nd ed., Brussels, 1877); H. G. Moke, La Belgique ancienne (Ghent, 1855); A. Desjardins, Géographie historique de la Gaule, ii. (1878); T. R. Holmes, Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul (1899); M. Ihm in Pauly-Wissowa’s Realencyclopädie, iii. pt. 1 (1897); J. Jung, “Geographie von Italien und dem Orbis romanus” (2nd ed., 1897) in I. Müller’s Handbuch der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft.
BELGARD, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Pomerania, at the junction of the rivers Leitznitz and Persante, 22 m. S.E. of Kolberg by rail. Pop. (1900) 8047. Its industries consist of iron founding and cloth weaving, and there are considerable horse and cattle markets.
BELGAUM, a town and district of British India, in the southern division of Bombay. The town is situated nearly 2500 ft. above sea-level; it has a station on the Southern Mahratta railway, 245 m. S. of Poona. It has an ancient fortress, dating apparently from 1519, covering about 100 acres, and surrounded by a ditch; within it are two interesting Jain temples. Belgaum contains a cantonment which is the headquarters of a brigade in the 6th division of the western army corps. It is also a considerable centre of trade and of cotton weaving. There are cotton mills. Pop. (1901) 36,878.
The district of Belgaum has an area of 4649 sq. m. To the north and east the country is open and well cultivated, but to the south it is intersected by spurs of the Sahyadri range, thickly covered in some places with forest. In 1901 the population was 993,976, showing a decrease of 2% compared with an increase of 17% in the preceding decade. The principal crops are millet, rice, wheat, other food-grains, pulse, oil-seeds, cotton, sugar-cane, spices and tobacco. There are considerable manufactures of cotton-cloth. The town of Gokak is known for its dyes, its paper and its wooden and earthenware toys. The West Deccan line of the Southern Mahratta railway runs through the district from north to south. Two high schools at Belgaum town are maintained by government and by the London Mission. The Kurirs, a wandering and thieving tribe, the Kamais, professional burglars, and the Baruds, cattle-stealers and highwaymen, are notorious among the criminal classes.
History.—The ancient name of the town of Belgaum was Venugrama, which is said to be derived from the bamboos that are characteristic of its neighbourhood. The most ancient place in the district is Halsi; and this, according to inscriptions on copper plates discovered in its neighbourhood, was once the capital of a dynasty of nine Kadamba kings. It appears that from the middle of the 6th century A.D. to about 760 the country was held by the Chalukyas, who were succeeded by the Rashtrakutas. After the break-up of the Rashtrakuta power a portion of it survived in the Rattas (875-1250), who from 1210 onward made Venugrama their capital. Inscriptions give evidence of a long struggle between the Rattas and the Kadambas of Goa, who succeeded in the latter years of the 12th century in acquiring and holding part of the district. By 1208, however, the Kadambas had been overthrown by the Rattas, who in their turn succumbed to the Yadavas of Devagiri in 1250. After the overthrow of the Yadavas by the Delhi emperor (1320), Belgaum was for a short time under the rule of the latter; but only a few years later the part south of the Ghatprabha was subject to the Hindu rajas of Vijayanagar. In 1347 the northern part was conquered by the Bahmani dynasty, which in 1473 took the town of Belgaum and conquered the southern part also. When Aurungzeb overthrew the Bijapur sultans in 1686, Belgaum passed to the Moguls. In 1776 the country was overrun by Hyder Ali, but was retaken by the Peshwa with British assistance. In 1818 it was handed over to the East India Company and was made part of the district of Dharwar. In 1836 this was divided into two parts, the southern district continuing to be known as Dharwar, the northern as Belgaum.
See Imp. Gazetteer of India (Oxford, ed. 1908), s.v.
BELGIAN CONGO, a Belgian colony in Equatorial Africa occupying the greater part of the basin of the Congo river. Formerly the Independent State of the Congo, it was annexed to Belgium in 1908. (See Congo Free State.)
BELGIUM (Fr. Belgique; Flem. Belgie), an independent, constitutional and neutral state occupying an important position in north-west Europe. It was formerly part of the Low Countries or Netherlands (q.v.). Although the name Belgium only came into general use with the foundation of the modern kingdom in 1830, its derivation from ancient times is clear and incontrovertible. Beginning with the Belgae and the Gallia Belgica of the Romans, the use of the adjective to distinguish the inhabitants of the south Netherlands can be traced through all stages of subsequent history. During the Crusades, and in the middle ages, the term Belgicae principes is of frequent occurrence, and when in 1790 the Walloons rose against Austria during what was called the Brabant revolution, their leaders proposed to give the country the name of Belgique. Again in 1814, on the expulsion of the French, when there was much talk of founding an independent state, the same name was suggested for it. It was not till sixteen years later, on the collapse of the united kingdom of the Netherlands, that the occasion presented itself for giving effect to this proposal. For the explanation of the English form of the name it may be mentioned that Belgium was a canton of what had been the Nervian country in the time of the Roman occupation.