Belgium 1795-1799 Belgium 1815-1830

Belgium part of France, 1799-1813

Only the establishment of the consulate in 1799 ended the exploitation of the Belgian territories by France (1792-1799), which historian Sleeckx describes as more severe than the reparations Germany forced France to pay after the war of 1870-1871.
The CONCORDAT of 1801 restored the Catholic Church in Belgium. An Archdiocesis with seat in Mechelen (Malines), with suffragan dioceses in Tournai, Gent, Namur, Liege, Aachen and Mainz (the last two in the German Rhineland, at that time also annexed into France) was established. In 1802 the number of Catholic holidays was reduced, with the approval of the papal legate, Cardinal Caprara. In 1804 the Code Civile was introduced.
When France was transformed from Republic into Empire in 1804, BRUSSELS was declared the Empire's second capital.
In 1809, while Napoleon was occupied with the 2nd Austrian Campaign, the British Navy landed at Walcheren, using it as a stepping stone to launch an attack on Antwerp (August 1809); the undertaking failed. On February 14th 1814, the Duke of Sachsen-Weimar, commander of the combined Russian, Prussian and Saxon Army, proclaimed the liberation of Belgium. During the HUNDRED DAYS, Belgium again became battlefield; the decision fell in the BATTLE OF WATERLOO.
Except for the 1798 Peasants' Revolt (Boerenkrijg), there had been no organized resistance to French administration.
At the Vienna Congress, Belgium became a pawn in power politics. Britain wanted to see Belgium ruled by a power which was capable of defending the country; for a time the plan was to grant Belgium to Prussia. Finally it was unified with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, thus serving, from the English point of view, as a fine compensation for the Dutch colonies annexed by Great Britain.

The INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION began to have an impact on Belgium, as the mechanization of cloth production began in the Belgian textile industry (Gent textile factory using spinning jenny opened in 1801 (Lieven Bauwens), such machines being imported from England and since 1800 produced by English immigrant WILLIAM COCKERILL in Verviers. The CONTINENTAL SYSTEM then protected the Belgian textile industry against English imports. It also interrupted the import of overseas raw materials such as American cotton, thus impacting the Flemish cotton industry.
With the Blockade terminated, Antwerp, declared a port of the French navy, experienced a temporary boom (1803) Prussia and the U.S. opened consulates in the port city. Then, almost constant warfare with England and the Continental System dampened the hopes set in the rapid development of her trade. Smuggling became a big business, more so along the North Sea coast than in Antwerp the approach to which could be controlled more easily.
Borinage Coal mines had begun to use steam engines in the years just before the French Revolution; in 1803 CONVEYOR BELTS were introduced. The result was an increase in the output of coal; steel production also increased to answer the demand of the machinery industry.
As the Continental Blockade barred the import of machinery from England, the Walloon steel and machinery industry had a large market to serve (among the customers being the French army); Wallonia developed into the European continent's first industrialized region. The nascent Belgian industry found a wide open market in France, a market protected against English competition by the Continental System.

French Occupation, from Life in Flanders in the 18th and 19th Centuries by Marcel Blanchaer
Belgian Territory under French Occupation, 1793-1815, from Rootsweb
Historique de la gendarmerie, from Gendarmerie Belge
Recension : Jan Roegiers, Revolutie in de seminaries. De priesteropleiding voor seculieren in de Zuidelijke Nederlanden 1780-1830, in : Trajecta
De Economische Geschiedenis van Belgie 1794-1815, from Museum voor Vaderlandse Geschiedenis, in Dutch
Geschiedenis van Brussel, De Franse Overheersing (1792, 1794-1815), from Digitaal Brussel, in Dutch
DOCUMENTS Map of the Southern Netherlands, 1814 and 1815, from Museum voor Vaderlandse Geschiedenis / Mees, Historische Atlas 1865
Vlaamse Soldatenbrieven uit de Napoleontische Tijd (Flemish soldiers' letters from the Napoleonic Period), posted by Jan van Bakel , look here for Frans-Vlaamse Soldatenbrieven (French-Flemish soldiers' letters), and here for the introduction, introduction in Dutch, documents in Flemish resp. French
Map : frontieres de la France en 1789, 1797, 1811, 1814, 1815, from Histofig
Treaty of Campo Formio, 1797, from
Medal : (British) Attack of Antwerp, 1809, from Napoleonic Medals : 2nd Austrian Campaign, by Fortiter, scroll down; also from Blackwatch
Coins of Antwerp, Emergency Issue 1814, from EGMP (Europees Genootschap voor Munt- en Penningkunde), article by L. Verbist
French 1814 coins, Louix XVIII, inscription : Anvers (Antwerp), from
Dedham Gazette, Aug 18 1815, expresses doubts in British official reports on battle in Belgium, posted by Napoleon Bonaparte Internet Guide
Newburyport Herald, May 2 1815, reports Wellington placed in command of English troops in Belgium, posted by Napoleon Bonaparte Internet Guide
Proclamatie over en vrede van het vast-land, 1801, posted on Dutch as writing language in the Maas Rhine Area
REFERENCE H.P.H. Jansen, Kalendarium. Geschiedenis van de Lage Landen in Jaartallen. (Calendarium. History of the Low Countries by Years), Utrecht 1979
Jaerboeken der Oostenryksche Nederlanden van 1780 tot 1814, opgesteld door eenen Tydgenoot (Yearbooks of the Austrian Netherlands 1780-1814, compiled by a contemporary), Gent (1818) Geschiedkundige Heruitgeverij 2002, in Dutch
Floris Prims, De Sociaal-Economische Geschiedenis van Belgie (The Socio-Economic History of Belgium), (1926) Gent 2002

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First posted in 2000, last revised on October 22nd 2005

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