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Why is Belgium separated into 2 areas?

Why is Belgium separated into 2 areas? I know that they got a different language, history, colture and all that, but how did they become that way? Like how did it happen that 2 ethnics groups are there and are living in the same country? How did Belgium come to what it is today?

thanks in advance!

3 Answers

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  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    The answer is Belgium is one nation, with one ethnic group, with one history, with one culture but with two languages.

    ﺛﺎﺒﺎﺜﺘﻴﺎﻨ claims that Belgium was a collection of small states in the Holy Roman Empire, this is actually untrue, Belgium was a territory that crossed the boundaries of the HRE and France, which was put on the Scheld river, Belgium was until 1795 a confederation-like nation, not a State as during the 18th century the State was the Austrian State. After that it was a unitary state that lasted until the 1970ties when it was replaced by a double federation-like structure that above all is complicated.

    Anyway he talks about the United Provinces, Flanders was never part of the United Provinces, because United Provinces was another name for the Dutch Republic. All of Flanders was part of the XVIII Provinces and I suspect he confused these names, but so were Namur, Luxembourg, Brabant, Arthesia, etc.

    When looking at a map of the Burgundian Empire, which began it's life in the late 14th century and not the 15th we can see that the territory that is unified roughly corresponds to the territory of Belgium, this fact resets the age of Belgium from ± 200 years to ± 700 years. Already Brussels was the capital. They introduced French as lingua franca.

    The answer of your question why is Belgium like it is today does not begin in 1830, but in 1790. In this year for the first time since the loss of the Duchy of Burgundy to the French the Belgians would direct their own destiny, albeit only for nine months. The United Belgian States was the child of a revolution that occurred at the same time as the French revolution, but they couldn't be more different.

    In short: the French revolution was against a conservative king and established a modern republic. The first Belgian revolution was against a Enlightened monarch and established a conservative republic. This event is only mentioned because Belgium had never stood closer to a civil war. The Belgians learned to hate each other in those 9 months.

    Then in 1830 the scene had changed, the revolution was a liberal one. It was not about culture, nor language and religion did not play the large role as many people think. It was about politics. 3, 5 million Belgians brought in the money owned the industry and worked day in day out. (see the parallel with today, it does stop here) While the 2 million Dutch brought debts, did not produce anything and controlled the higher ranks in the army and occupied almost all jobs in government. The Dutch used of what would later become known as Dutch mathematics, example when around 1700 Belgian notables were called to vote in order that the Dutch could legally implement a new Constitution based on the one of Holland. When a majority said no, the Dutch king declared that everybody who said nothing were also in favor, but peer pressure prevented them to vote accordingly and implemented the new Constitution.

    The linguistic problem came around ten years later, after the publishing of a Belgian patriotic book, the Lion of Flanders. It was quickly picked up by a newly founded Belgian nationalistic society: the Flemish movement. It was eager to emancipate Dutch speaking notables culturally. But the refusal of Brussels to do something about, what was in essence a local problem made it escalate. The movement went politically. The idea of a Belgian federation is an old one, already in the 1880ties the idea was formulated. But Flemish nationalism as it escalated did not wish at any point the end of Belgium. The Germans brought that idea to Belgium during WWI. In Germany there was a feeling of resentment against Belgium because it was blamed for the failure of the Schlieffen plan. The idea was to destroy Belgium, even if Germany lost the war, the little nation should no longer exist. Many iniciatives were started, but there was no large popular basis. Before the war a petition had gone around to create a Dutch speaking university in Ghent, it had more then 100 000 signatures, during the war the collaboration did the same, only a couple of thousands signed the petition. In 1917 Flanders was declared independent, the majority of the Flemish movement condemned it.

    But just like after the following war the repression was hard and the traitors and their children radicalized.

    The radical children that are there today were isolated, except the anti-Flemish FDF and the anti-Belgian N-VA. But recently the FDF and it's partner the MR have split because they couldn't agree on the fact the MR supported the split of BHV and the N-VA put itself checkmate earlier this year.

  • 2wicky
    Lv 4
    10 years ago

    Belgium isn't separated into two areas.

    It's more complicated than that as it's divided into three communities and three regions. The three regions are: Brussels in the center, Flanders in the north and Wallonia in the south. The three communities are language based: Dutch, French and German. (The German part was annexed from Germany after WWI.)

    Flanders has a single Dutch community. Brussels is the only bilingual region in Belgium and is served by both the French and Dutch speaking community. And the Walloon region is split in two with a mostly large French speaking community and a small German speaking community in the east.

    Nor is there such a thing as a Walloon or Flemish ethnic group. The only ethnic groups that can lay claim to Belgium were wiped out during the roman times. Everybody else moved in from other parts of Europe. Something that is still happening today.

    Belgium's history is long and complicated. But to tell a long story short, when Belgium was created, a ruling class was created as well: only those who payed taxes could vote. And it just happened to be that they preferred to speak French over Dutch, as it was considered the language of the aristocrats. Dutch and its many dialects were relegated to the lower non voting classes. As such, many Flemish towns slowly turned French as the official business and administration were all conducted in French. In Brussels, this process happened a lot faster and more thoroughly as this happened to be the capital of Belgium and were most of the ruling class resided. And officially, Belgium at the time was a French speaking country only.

    But soon, the Flemish movement started to rise as they deplored the idea that their language was being shut out more and more. The struggle would take decades, if not an entire century before it was finally recognized as a language on equal footing with French. In the 60's, they proposed to make Belgium a single fully bilingual country. Unfortunately. the French speakers refused and that is when the language borders were created and things started to get really complicated. Carving up a single country is not that easy and it's also the reason that a clean break up of Belgium sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Politicians like to paint the picture that everything is black and white. The reality is that once you start delving a little bit deeper, you get a different picture and explains reason for the many complicated constructions that keep this country working. Such as the six regions and communities and why Belgium can continue to function without a federal government for more than a year.

    If there is a difference in culture between the Dutch and French speakers, than it's a recent thing that really started to have its affect some 20 years ago as the communities gained more autonomy in things like politics, education and media.

    But generally speaking, the cultural differences between the Dutch and French speakers are still quite small when compared to the cultures of our neighboring countries such as the Netherlands or France.

    Source(s): Belgian
  • 10 years ago

    Belgium was a collection of small states in the Holy Roman Empire - and even today the Kingdom of Belgium is a confederation of states. The northern half (Flanders) borders the Netherlands. Most of Flanders was part of the United Provinces (the Netherlands) during the Early Modern Period. Dutch is the main language spoken in Flanders. In 1830, it revolted, along with Wallonia, to form Belgium.

    Wallonia, the southern region, borders France. It was a part of the heartland of the Franks, ancestors of modern French people. During the reigns of the Merovingians and Carolingians, cities such as Liège became majority French-speaking. The 843 Treaty of Verdun handed the region to the Kingdom of Middle Francia. The French-speaking Burgundians took the area in the 15th century. Spain, Austria, and the Netherlands all ruled the area before it became part of Belgium in 1830. French is now the main language in Wallonia.

    Flemish people and Walloons are the two main cultural-linguistic groups in Belgium. They both make up the ethnic group, Belgians. Belgians are heterogeneous, meaning that they aren't one, unified ethnic group. Instead, Flemish people and Walloons (and a German-speaking minority) make up the Belgian ethnic group.

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