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Etienne Constantin, Baron de Gerlache (1785 in Bertrix – 1871 in Ixelles) was a lawyer and politician in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, and later became in 1831 the first Prime Minister of the newly founded Belgian state.

He studied law in Paris and practised there for some time, but settled at Liège after the establishment of the kingdom of the Netherlands. As member of the states-general he was an energetic member of the opposition, and, though he repudiated an ultramontane policy, he supported the alliance of the extreme Catholics with the Liberal party, which paved the way for the revolution of 1830.

On the outbreak of disturbance in August 1830 he still, however, thought the Orange-Nassau dynasty and the union with the Dutch states essential; but his views changed, and, after holding various offices in the provisional government, he became president of congress, and brought forward the motion inviting Leopold of Saxe-Coburg to become king of the Belgians. In 1832 he was president of the chamber of representatives, and for thirty-five years he presided over the court of appeal. He presided over the Catholic congresses held at Mechelen between 1863 and 1867. That his early Liberal views underwent some modification is plain from the Conservative principles enunciated in his Essai sur le mouvement des partis en Belgique (Brussels, 1852). As an historian his work was strongly colored by his anti-Dutch prejudices and his Catholic predilections. His Histoire des Pays-Bas depuis 1814 jusquen 1830 (Brussels, 2 vols., 1839), which reached a fourth edition in 1875, was a piece of special pleading against the Dutch domination. The most important of his other works were his Histoire de Liège (Brussels, 1843) and his Etudes sur Salluste et sur quelques-uns desprincipaux historiens de l'antiquite (Brussels, 1847).

In 1831, he was elected in Liège for the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, of which he was president until 1832. Later on, he became the president of the Belgian Court of Cassation, a function in which he stayed until 1867.He died on February 10, 1871 in Ixelles.

References

Political offices
Preceded by
none
Prime Minister of Belgium
1831
Succeeded by
Joseph Lebeau
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