“The years of slavery are past, The Belgian rejoices once more; Courage restores to him at last, the rights he held of yore, strong and firm his gasp will be; Keeping the ancient flag unfurled; to fling its message on the watchful world: For king, for right, for liberty.” (Belgian National Anthem, 1830). This was what the Belgian sang when they fought for their independence, the song arises some questions on the situation of Belgium before there was a Belgian state or a Belgian Nation.
This paper focuses on the nation and state building of Belgium between the Middle Ages and 1830, as Belgium did not exist at that time this paper examines the situation on the territories belonging to current Belgium. The process of nation-state building in Belgium is explained by defining the concepts of nation and state, then by analysing the system of powers in the Belgian territory and, finally by stating whether or not Belgium was a state or a nation during the analysed periods.
2. Key Concepts
Roberts definition of a modern state is based on certain characteristics, the ruler should be sovereign (supreme authority), have a defined territory, have a legitimate power and be efficient.
Gellner defines it as a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory.
3. Nation and State Building of Belgium
3.1. Middle Ages
After Charlemagne's death, the Carolingian Empire was divided in three parts by the Treaty of Verdun in 834. This division weakened the Empire, many battles took place and it allowed the Viking's invasions from the north. It was around that time that the hereditary character of feudalism and the power of the fiefs, in...
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...anish did not manage to centralise their territories but the Austrian had a centralised government which claimed to be absolute. It was not until the French invasions that Belgium was united and was part of an absolute and centralised Republic. However, because of the balance of power, Belgium had to answer to the Dutch which were centralised and absolute but were not recognised by the Belgian because of the differences existing between the two Nations, this led to Belgium's independence.
Belgium became a nation around the start of the 19th Century because it was the first time that they struggled together to be free of people who did not have the same beliefs and history as them. They might not speak the same language, French and Flemish, but they had the feeling that they belonged together and as the Belgian motto says: l'Union fait la Force (Unity makes Strength).
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