Monday, August 31, 2015

The Boundary Between Flanders And Wallonia

Belgium split in two (or three, depending on who and where you are)
Who's heard of Belgium is also aware of the the sometimes, and unfortunately, great differences between its two main regions (Brussels notwithstanding): Flanders (the Flemish-speaking, Northern side) and Wallonia (the French-speaking, Southern portion).

What is really interesting, however, is that though this separation hasn't always existed (indeed, Belgium used to be a Celtic country before the "Germans" and Romans invaded them), this boundary between the two regions is perhaps much older than one might think, and takes us all the way back to...

358 C.E.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Century Of Freedom...And Political Changes

Albert Devèze
"A [political] party does not have a reason for being unless it possesses its own ideal which it pursues with  the conscious and tenacious effort to progressively achieve it, an ideal which is susceptible to arouse within its adherents enthusiastic impulses and fervors of faith.
Does that mean the party must adhere to an immutable dogmatism, whose rigid rule will be the norm of its activity? Definitely not. It must, on the contrary, understand that when it comes to translating its idealism into positive laws, that these can only be the legislative raiment adapted to the measure of the social being who wears it; that this collective being, through internal and external transformations, suffers all the phenomena of growth and development, health and sickness, and that yesterday's impossibilities must consequently become today's possibilities and tomorrow's inevitable. If such is not that party's concept of politics, it would soon become a power of blind conservatism first, of reaction next. From then on, its decline would sanction its divorce from the people's material and moral necessities whose destinies it would have the pretension to hamper."
~Albert Devèze, Un siècle de libéralisme
(transl. by A. Ellefson)

After the Catholic Party, it is the Liberal Party that is the oldest political party in Belgium, having been officially formed in 1846, followed by the third of the three major parties, the Socialist Party, which was founded in 1857 (although, with time, these have split and reformed into many other parties).

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Anecdotal Story From The 1830 Revolution

Belgian revolutionaries from Liege, 1830
I’m still reading out of the 1830-1930 La Patrie Belge book of the Editions illustrées du “SOIR” Bruxelles, and just fell on a text by H. Liebrecht talking about the 1830 Revolution, out of which I’m going to translate a number of passages for you, for I find them to be quite interesting, even if I have already spoken about the events before.

The Allied Forces’ decision to place Belgium under the United Kingdom of the Netherlands’s
Louis De Potter in his cell at the Prison des Petits-Carmes
(Dec. 2, 1829)
dominion in 1815 did not please the Belgians of the time. And right they were to feel that way for they suffered religious intolerance, extra financial charges and taxes, and administrative partiality until poverty reigned throughout Belgium’s provinces. In the meantime, the country found its freedom of press continuously encroached upon, especially with regards to those journalists who dared to speak up against the Dutch yoke. Thus, from 1816 to 1828, 23 newspapers and more than 80 journalists were taken to court.

But it’s not until the July 1830 revolution in Paris, where the French people managed to force their then King Charles X and the Duc D’Angoulème to abdicate, that the Belgians finally realized they could defeat their own government as well.

Thus, when King William I had a huge celebration planned for his birthday, and that despite the fact that the Belgian People were being overtaxed (particularly by the impôts de la mouture, a tax placed upon the grains that must be paid before they can be ground into flour for bread-making), a number of revolutionaries stuck red posters up at street corners that read: “Monday, fireworks; Tuesday, illuminations; Wednesday, revolution.”