Thursday, January 29, 2015

When Holland Had Two Capitals

I know, this is a blog about Belgium (and Europe, by extension), so why devote a post to Holland? Well, it turns out that Belgium used to be part of the Netherlands, before Belgium became its own country.

The first king of the Netherlands, King Willem Frederick I, after the northern and southern parts of that country were united. The new king had wanted to have only one capital at the time, Brussels, as he had a predilection for the Southern part of his country (as evidenced by his serious investments in that area--see below). But the Powers that Be (previously mentioned in The Birth And Evolution Of An Artificial State) decided otherwise, and so the Netherlands had two heads of state for a while: Brussels and The Hague.

As a result, the Dutch Parliament had to travel "from one capital to the other, as did 600 families o functionaries and the diplomatic corp. Moving back and forth cost a lot of money, and much energy and time was lost transporting archives."

Monday, January 19, 2015

King Leopold, The Lady-Killer

Before becoming Belgium's first king, Prince Leopold spent some time at Napoleon's court, where his good looks made him a favorite with none other than the Empress Jos├ęphine de Beauharnais, and her sister Hortense (married to Napoleon's brother Louis), among many others.

Not only that, but Leopold was later remember by Napoleon, during the latter's exile at Saint Helena, as "the most beautiful man [he] ever saw at the Tuileries palace."

Josephine and Hortense de Beauharnais
And that was before he turned 20!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Birth And Evolution Of An Artificial State

Belgium: n. from the Latin word Belgica, which means the Netherlands. In reference to the Celtic tribe that lived over that area, the Belgae, and were the bravest and strongest according to Caesar.

Belgium was officially created and recognized by the Western Powers in 1831 (almost a year after the Belgians asserted their independence from the Netherlands), when Prince Leopold Georg Christian Friedrich of Saxe-Coburg was made first King of the Belgians, a claim backed mainly by the Brits.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Few Basic Facts On Belgium

The purpose of this blog is for me to:

  1. Learn more about Belgium - having gone to a European school for my elementary and secondary education, then to an American school for my university studies, I'm afraid I really don't know much about it and how it's run.
  2. Learn more about Europe - Belgium being one of its original founders, I think it would be hard to address one without addressing the other.
  3. Try to make sense of the politics, laws, and other intricacies that inevitably come with a country, and Belgium is quite the Gordian Knot in that sector (it is well known, for example, for its strikes and misfiling papers, tactics which worked quite well during the German occupation in WWII).
So before I delve into anything more complicated, I figured I'd give a few quick facts about Belgium...

Belgium and its regions:

I think that's about it for now. We'll dive into more details in another post!

List of countries and dependencies by area
The World Factbook - CIA