Explain why the Belgian Revolution of September 1830 occurred?

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The Belgian Revolution took place between the months of August and September 1830. This insurrection was mainly a series of manifestations and at the end there was as well as series of small battles around Belgium between the Belgians and the Dutch army. This conflicts were known as the “Days of September” since they were between the 23rd and 27th of September 1830 . These events occurred due to a multiple reasons ranging from religious conflicts to economic, social and political conflicts.

One of the major causes of the Belgian revolution, which took place between August and September 1830, was the fact that the Belgians were under Dutch rule. The ruler of the United Kingdom of Netherlands at the time was King William 1st of Orange-Nassau who favored the Dutch and imposed ethnic nationalism excluding the Belgians. This of course already exacerbates tension between the Dutch monarchy and the Belgian revolutionaries since the Belgians were treated unfairly compared to the Dutch.

As soon as the Paris treaty, signed on the 30th of May 1814 , established that the Belgian state was to become part of the United Kingdom of Netherlands the Dutch dream of expansionism was accomplished and immediately the Flemish started enforcing Dutch supremacy. This meant that if you were Dutch you were treated with higher respect and had more advantages then all other races in the Dutch Kingdom. For example when the constitution adopted to revise the fundamental laws of the new kingdom was established in 1815 there were 796 votes against the constitution and 527 for it and a sixth of the voters did not come. Since this constitution was Dutch the king accepted it although it should have been rejected due to a majority of the vote against it. This showed not only the favoritism of one single race but it also should that the Dutch monarchy was corrupt.

As the years went by the Dutch continuously kept on depriving the other races in its kingdom from more and more political as well as social advantages. For example on the 15th of September 1819 Dutch became the official language although at the time French was the diplomatic and nearly European language. On the 21st of June 1830 all the economic, social and political institutions in the United Provinces were moved to The Hague so that all decisions were made in the capital leaving no space for any Belgian opinion or intervention.

All these restrictions and modifications to the Belgian state not only annoyed the Belgians but also encouraged them to fight for the rights of their own nation. The ill-treatment of the Belgians by the Dutch caused the establishment of a volatile population on the verge of revolution.

The second major cause of the revolution was the fact that the Dutch monarchy and population were protestant whilst the Belgians were catholic. This caused many conflicts due to the differences of these two religions and the different beliefs as well. For example the Protestants don’t believe in the Virgin Mary, the Pope and the Trinity (The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) whilst for the Roman Catholics these beliefs are one of the most crucial parts of their religion.

On the 29th of November 1780 Marie-Theresa died. Her son Joseph II took over her throne immediately and made many reforms; especially in the Austrian Netherlands were he introduced a set of limitations on the clergy of the southern provinces of the Netherlands (Belgium) following the concept of laicization. These limitations included laws implying that marriage was considered only a civil contract (imposed on the 28th of September 1784 ) and sermons had to be censured (imposed on the 23rd of January 1786 ). These modifications degraded the Catholics who revolted to form the United States of Belgium . This proves that the Belgians already had a history of exploitation within their religious beliefs and that there was already huge tension between the Dutch and the Belgians between their religions. There four million Belgians to two million Flemish people at the time meaning that any false assumption could lead to a revolution. The United Kingdom of Netherlands was on the brink of a rebellion.

On the 25th of August 1830 at the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels Daniel Auber’s “La Muette de Portici” (the mute girl from Portici) was on stage. King William attended this performance as it was for his birthday. The subject of this play was the combat between the Neapolitans and Spain for freedom. This theme naturally encouraged all the Belgians to fight for the freedom and start an uprising. During the whole night the Belgians manifested and attacked Brussels were the king was although they didn’t attack him. This was the first act of the revolution but it was a cause due to the fact that the play motivated the Belgians to rebel. This was the first sign the Belgians had received in the past.

In the same year there had been an uprising in France called the French revolution of July 1830. This rebellion consisted of a coup-d’état to overthrow the hated king Charles X. This insurrection took only a month and it motivated and demonstrated The Belgians to fight for their freedom and rights. This revolution rendered a Belgian population already enraged by the fact that they were degraded to a volatile population once again on the brink of a revolution.

In conclusion the Belgian Revolution occurred due to religious conflicts between Roman Catholics and Calvinists who had different beliefs. This revolution was also caused by a conflict of cultures as well as degradation in social, economical and political institutions. This revolution was a fight for the freedom of a nation and the rights of its people which had been deprived during the reign of the despotic King William the 1st. The Belgian revolution was a response to the favoritism the Dutch King had used during his rule as well as a revenge for all the ill-treatment in the past during the reign of the Hapsburgs.

Bibliography:Primary Sources:Nothomb, Jean-Baptiste & Juste, Theodor “Essai Historique et Politique sur La Revolution Belge” Ghent University, Gent, 1833Secondary Sources:Books:Mabille, Xavier “Histoire de la politique Belgique – Facteurs et acteurs de changement” Crisp, Brussels, 1986Websites:“The Belgian Revolution” WikipediaAvailable at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgian_RevolutionAccessed 26/03/2009"Révolution belge de 1830" Encyclopédie Microsoft® Encarta®Available at http://fr.encarta.msn.comAccessed 09/04/2009“Révolution belge” WikipediaAvailable at http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%A9volution_belgeAccessed 07/04/2009