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14 - The United States of Belgium

from Part II - Western, Central, and Eastern Europe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 October 2023

Wim Klooster
Affiliation:
Clark University, Massachusetts
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Summary

In December 1789 the Belgians won their independence from Austria. Belgian revolutionaries cast Austrian Emperor Joseph II as a foreign tyrant. Two years before, the Estates of the nine Belgian provinces led by lawyer Henri van der Noot had resisted Austrian-imposed reforms of their religious institutions and judicial administration. Pamphlets flew, not only defending rights guaranteed by centuries-old Belgian provincial constitutions, but arguing that Belgians should follow the Americans and fight for the natural rights. In October 1789, revolutionaries came together to issue the “Manifeste du Peuple Brabançon,” modeled on the American Declaration of Independence. An army of volunteers marched into battle supported by villagers. Taking advantage of a ten-day armistice to regroup, the Belgians overcame the Austrian forces and proclaimed their independence.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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