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HISTORY]
673
BELGIUM

are textiles, lace, coal, coke, briquettes, glass, machinery, railway material and fire arms.

Shipping and Navigation.—Belgium has no state navy, although various proposals have been made from time to time to establish an armed flotilla in connexion with the defence of Antwerp. The state, however, possesses a certain number of steamers. In 1904 they numbered sixty-five of 99,893 tons. These steamers are chiefly employed on the passenger route between Ostend and Dover. The total number of vessels entering the only two ports of Belgium which carry on ocean commerce, namely Antwerp and Ostend, in 1904 was 7650 of a tonnage of 10,330,127. Among inland ports that of Ghent is the most important, 1127 ships of a tonnage of 786,362 having entered the port in 1904. The corresponding figures for ships sailing from the two ports first named were in the same year 7642 and tonnage 10,298,405. The figures from Ghent were 1128 and 787,173 tons. Whereas the lines of steamers from Ostend are chiefly with Dover and London, those from Antwerp proceed to all parts of the world. A steam service was established in 1906 from Hull to Bruges by Zeebrugge and the ship canal.

Internal Communications.—The internal communications of Belgium of every kind are excellent. The roads outside the province of Luxemburg and Namur are generally paved. In the provinces named, or in other words, in the region south of the Meuse, the roads are macadamized. The total length of roads is about 6000 m. When Belgium became a separate state in 1830 they were less than one-third of this total. There are about 2900 m. of railways, of which upwards of 2500 m. are state railways. It is of interest to note that the state railways derived a revenue of 249,355 francs (or nearly £10,000) from the penny tickets for the admission of non-travellers to railway stations. Besides the main railways there are numerous light railways (chemins de fer vicinaux), of a total length approaching 2500 m. There are also electric and steam tramways in all the principal cities. The total of navigable waterways is given as 1360 m. Posts, telegraphs and telephones are exclusively under state management and form a government department.

Banks and Money.—The principal banking institution is the Banque Nationale which issues the bank-notes in current use. In 1904 the average value of notes in circulation was 645,989,100 francs. The rate of discount was 3% throughout the whole of the year.

The mintage of Belgian money is carried out by a directeur de la fabrication who is nominated by and responsible to the government. The gold coins are for 10 and 20 francs, silver for half francs, francs, 2 francs and 5 francs. Nickel money is for 5, 10 and 20 centimes, and the copper coinage has been withdrawn from circulation.

Authorities.—Annuaire statistique de la Belgique (1905); Beltjens and Godenne, La Constitution belge (Brussels, 1880); La Belgique illustrée (Brussels, 1878-1882); Les Pandectes belges (Brussels, 1898); Annales du parlement belge for each year; Belgian Life in Town and Country, “Our Neighbours” Series (London, 1904). For geology see C. Dewalque, Prodrome d’une description géologique de la Belgique (Brussels, 1880); M. Mourlon, Géologie de la Belgique (Brussels, 1880-1881); F. L. Cornet and A. Briart, “Sur le relief du sol en Belgique après les temps paléozoques,” Ann. Soc. Géol. Belg. vol. iv., 1877, pp. 71-115, pls. v.-xi. (see also other papers by the same authors in the same journal); J. Gosselet, L’Ardenne (Paris, 1888); M. Bertrand, “Études sur le bassin houiller du nord et sur le Boulonnais,” Ann. des mines, ser. ix. vol. vi. (Mém.), pp. 569-635, 1894; C. Malaise, “État actuel de nos connaissances sur le silurien de la Belgique,” Ann. Soc. Géol. Belg. vol. xxv, 1900-1901, pp. 179-221; H. Forir, “Bibliographie des étages laekénien, lédien, wemmélien, asschien, tongrien, rupélien et boldérien et des dépêts tertiaires de la haute et moyenne Belgique,” ibid. pp. 223 seq.

 (D. C. B.) 


History[1]

The political severance of the northern and southern Netherlands may be conveniently dated from the opening of the year 1579. By the signing of the league of Arras (5th of January) the Walloon “Malcontents” declared their adherence to the cause of Catholicism and their loyalty to the Spanish king, and broke away definitely from the northern provinces, who bound themselves by the union of Utrecht (29th of January) to defend their rights and liberties, political and religious, against all Final separation of the northern and southern Netherlands. foreign potentates. Brabant and Flanders were still indeed under the control of the prince of Orange and through his influence accepted in 1582 the duke of Anjou as their sovereign. The French prince was actually inaugurated duke of Brabant at Antwerp (February 1582) and count of Flanders at Bruges (July), but his misconduct speedily led to his withdrawal from the Netherlands, and even before the assassination of Orange (July 1584) the authority of Philip had been practically restored throughout the two provinces. This had been achieved by the military skill and statesmanlike abilities of Alexander Alexander Farnese, prince of Parma, governor-general. Successes of Parma. Farnese, prince of Parma, appointed governor-general on the death of Don John of Austria, on the 1st of October 1578. Farnese first won by promises and blandishments the confidence of the Walloons, always jealous of the predominance of the “Flemish” provinces, and then proceeded to make himself master of Brabant and Flanders by force of arms. In succession Ypres, Mechlin, Ghent, Brussels, and finally Antwerp (17th of August 1585) fell into his hands. Philip had in the southern Netherlands attained his object, and Belgium was henceforth Catholic and Spanish, but at the expense of its progress and prosperity. Thousands of its inhabitants, and those the most enterprising and intelligent, fled from the Inquisition, and made their homes in the Dutch republic or in England. All commerce and industry was at a standstill; grass grew in the streets of Bruges and Ghent; and the trade of Antwerp was transferred to Amsterdam. On Parma’s death (3rd of December 1592) the archduke Ernest of Austria was appointed governor-general, but he died after a short tenure of office (20th of February 1595) and was at the beginning of 1596 succeeded by his younger brother the cardinal archduke Albert. Philip was now nearing Albert and Isabel, sovereigns of the Netherlands. his end, and in 1598 he gave his eldest daughter Isabel in marriage to her cousin the archduke Albert, and erected the Netherlands into a sovereign state under their joint rule. The advent of the new sovereigns, officially known as “the archdukes,” though greeted with enthusiasm in the Belgic provinces, was looked upon with suspicion by the Dutch, who were as firmly resolved as ever to uphold their independence. The chief military event of the early years of their reign was the battle of Nieuport The twelve years’ truce. The rule of the archdukes. (2nd of July 1600), in which Maurice of Nassau defeated the archduke Albert, and the siege of Ostend, which after a three years’ heroic defence was surrendered (20th of September 1604) to the archduke’s general, Spinola. The Dutch, however, being masters of the sea, kept the coast closely blockaded, and through sheer exhaustion the king of Spain and the archdukes were compelled to agree to a truce for twelve years (9th of April 1609) with the United Provinces “in the capacity of free states over which Albert and Isabel made no pretensions.” During the period of the truce the archdukes, who were wise and statesmanlike rulers, did their utmost to restore Reversion of the southern Netherlands to Spain, 1633. prosperity to their country and to improve its internal condition. Unfortunately they were childless, and the instrument of cession of 1598 provided that in case they should die without issue, the Netherlands should revert to the crown of Spain. This reversion actually took place. Albert died in 1621, just before the renewal of the war with the Dutch, and Isabel in 1633. The Belgic provinces therefore passed under the rule of Philip IV., and were henceforth known as the Spanish Netherlands.

This connexion with the declining fortunes of Spain was disastrous to the well-being of the Belgian people, for during many years a close alliance bound together France and the United Provinces, and the Southern Netherlands were exposed Peace of Münster. to attack from both sides, and constantly suffered from the ravages of hostile armies. The cardinal archduke Ferdinand, governor-general from 1634-1641, was a capable ruler, and by his military skill prevented in a succession

  1. See for earlier history Netherlands, Flanders, Brabant, Liége, &c.