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The Flemish region, the major part of Flanders in red (northern half of Belgium).
Flag of Flanders

Flanders (Dutch: About this sound Vlaanderen , French: Flandre) is the (political) community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Over the course of history, the geographical territory that was called "Flanders" has varied.

In contemporary Belgium, Flanders might be understood as the 'country of the Flemings'. This covers the north of Belgium Flemish Region and includes the Brussels Capital Region, the latter being shared with French speakers.

For the last few decades, with the legal establishment of the Flemish Community (Dutch: de Vlaamse Gemeenschap), the Flemings have their own political institutions. The parliament and government are the governing institutions of Flanders. There is also a geographical, political and administrative entity called the Flemish Region (Dutch: het Vlaams Gewest) but it has ceded all its competencies to the Flemish Community. Thus, the institutions of the Community govern both the Community and the Region. The capital city of Flanders is Brussels.

Previously, Flanders formed a county, the County of Flanders, which extended over:

Related to these geographical or political uses of the noun 'Flanders', and the adjective 'Flemish', they may also be used to describe several other distinct (but inter-connected) cultural, geographical, historical, linguistic or political items or entities.

Contents

The term "Flanders"

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The northern part of Belgium

The term "Flanders" has several main meanings:

  • the social, cultural and linguistic, scientific and educational, economical and political community of the Flemings; generally called the "Flemish community" (small "c") (others refer to this as the "Flemish nation"). It has over 6 million inhabitants, or about 60% of the population of Belgium.
  • the constituent governing institution of the federal Belgian state through the institutions named the Flemish Community (capital "C"), exercising the powers in most of those domains for the aforementioned community, and the officially Dutch-speaking Flemish Region which has powers mainly on economical matters. The Community absorbed the Region, leading to a single operative body: the Flemish government and a single legislative organ: the Flemish parliament;
  • the geographical region in the north of Belgium coinciding with the federal Belgian state's Flemish Region but excluding the bilingual Capital Region;
  • the geographical area comprising the two westernmost provinces of the Flemish Region, West Flanders and East Flanders, parts of a former county named Flanders.

The historical parts of the County of Flanders

  • In Belgium: When Flandria appeared in the 8th century, it was a Frankisch fief containing Bruges and environs. Probably, it is derived from the German wort flauma, which means Flooded Land[citation needed]. That should refer to the polders surrounding Bruges before the counts of Flanders expanded this area in all directions. It became the most important region of the Seventeen Provinces. In the 14th century the county reached her maximum size. In Belgium, it extended over the provinces of East Flanders, West Flanders (Dutch; Flemish) and Hainaut (French; Walloon).

The Dutch-speaking part of Belgium

The significance of the County and its counts eroded through time, but the designation remained in a very broad sense. In the Early Modern, the term Flanders was associated with the southern part of the Low Countries, the Southern Netherlands. During the 19th and 20th centuries, it became increasingly commonplace to refer to the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium as "Flanders". The linguistic limit between French and Dutch was recorded in the early '60's, from Kortrijk to Maastricht. Now, Flanders extends over the northern part of Belgium, including the Belgian parts of the Duchy of Brabant and Limburg.

The ambiguity between this eastwardly much wider area and that of the Countship (or the Belgian parts thereof), still remains. In most present-day contexts however, the term Flanders is generally taken to refer to either the political, social, cultural and linguistic community (and the corresponding official institution, the Flemish Community), or the geographical area, one of the three institutional regions in Belgium, namely the Flemish Region.

In history of art and other fields, the adjectives Flemish and Netherlandish are commonly used to designate all the artistic production in this area before about 1580, after which it refers specifically to the southern Netherlands. For example the term Flemish Primitives, now outdated in English but used in French, Flemish and other languages, is a synonym for Early Netherlandish painting, and it is not uncommon to see Mosan art categorized as Flemish art. In music the Franco-Flemish School is also known as the Dutch School.

The description of Flanders as the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium is, nevertheless, fundamentally flawed as Flanders includes many permanent minorities. For many centuries, the Jewish groups of Antwerp have spoken Yiddish. There are also sizable minorities speaking French, Berber, Turkish, Arabic, Spanish, Italian and Polish. There are residents from 170 nationalities in Flanders. Typically, in each of those minority groups, some people switch to using Dutch in their daily life, while others maintain their language of origin. Especially among the Flemish from Moroccan and Turkish origin, there is an extremely high tendency for marriage with partners from the country of origin. This permanent influx of new migrants significantly hinders the integration of these groups.

History

Early history

The area, roughly encompassing the later geographical meanings of Flanders, had been inhabited by Celts until Germanic people began immigrating by crossing the Rhine, either gradually driving them south- or westwards, or rather merging with them. By the first century BC Germanic languages had become prevalent, and the inhabitants were called Belgæ while the area was the coastal district of Gallia Belgica, the most northeastern province of the Roman Empire at its height. The boundaries were the Marne and Seine in the West, with Armorica (Brittany), and the Rhine in the East, with Frisia. This changed upon the Count of Rouen's settlement with the King of France, which made a cession of western Flanders and eastern Armorica to the Normans.

Historical Flanders: County of Flanders

Created in the year 862 as a feudal fief in West Francia, the County of Flanders was divided when its western districts fell under French rule in the late 12th century. The remaining parts of Flanders came under the rule of the counts of neighbouring Hainaut in 1191. The entire area passed in 1384 to the dukes of Burgundy, in 1477 to the Habsburg dynasty, and in 1556 to the kings of Spain. The western districts of Flanders came finally under French rule under successive treaties of 1659 (Artois), 1668, and 1678.

During the late Middle Ages Flanders' trading towns (notably Ghent, Bruges and Ypres) made it one of the richest and most urbanized parts of Europe, weaving the wool of neighbouring lands into cloth for both domestic use and export. As a consequence, a very sophisticated culture developed, with impressive achievements in the arts and architecture, rivaling those of Northern Italy.

Increasingly powerful from the 12th century, the territory's autonomous urban communes were instrumental in defeating a French attempt at annexation (1300–1302), finally defeating the French in the Battle of the Golden Spurs (July 11, 1302), near Kortrijk. Two years later, the uprising was defeated and Flanders remained part of the French Crown. Flemish prosperity waned in the following century, however, owing to widespread European population decline following the Black Death of 1348, the disruption of trade during the Anglo-French Hundred Years' War (1338–1453), and increased English cloth production. Flemish weavers had gone over to Worstead and North Walsham in Norfolk in the 12th century and established the woolen industry.

Flanders in the Low Countries

Beeldenstorm

In 1500, Charles V was born in Ghent. He inherited the Seventeen Provinces (1506), Spain (1516) with its colonies and in 1519 was elected Holy Roman Empire.[1] The Pragmatic Sanction of 1549, issued by Charles V, established the Low Countries as the Seventeen Provinces (or Spanish Netherlands in its broad sense) as an entity separate from the Holy Roman Empire and from France. In 1565 Charles V abdicated due to ill health (he suffered from crippling gout).[2] Spain and the Seventeen Provinces went to his son, king Philip II of Spain.

Meanwhile, Protestantism had reached the Low Countries. Among the wealthy traders of Antwerp, the Lutheran beliefs of the German Hanseatic traders found appeal, perhaps partly for economic reasons in Dutch. The spread of Protestantism in this city was aided by the presence of an Augustinian cloister (founded 1514) in the St. Andries quarter. Luther, an Augustinian himself, had taught some of the monks, and his works were in print by 1518. The first Lutheran martyrs came from Antwerp. The Reformation resulted in consecutive but overlapping waves of reform: a Lutheran, followed by a militant Anabaptist, then a Mennonite, and finally a Calvinistic movement. These movements existed independently of each other.

Relief statues in the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht, attacked in Reformation iconoclasm in the 16th century.[3]

Philip II was a devout Catholic and self-proclaimed protector of the Counter-Reformation suppressed Calvinism in Flanders, Brabant and Holland (what is now approximately Belgian Limburg was part of the Bishopric of Liège and was Catholic de facto). In 1566, the iconoclasm (Beeldenstorm) break out as protest against Philip II. The demolition of statues and paintings depicting saints. This was associated with the ensuing religious war between Catholics and Protestants, especially the Anabaptists. The Beeldenstorm started in what is now the arrondissement of Dunkirk in French Flanders, with open-air sermons (Dutch: hagepreken) . The first took place on the Cloostervelt near Hondschoote. The first large sermon was held near Boeschepe on July 12, 1562. These open-air sermons, mostly of Anabaptist or Mennonite signature, spread through the country. On August 10, 1566 at the end of the pilgrimage from Hondschoote to Steenvoorde, the chapel of the Sint-Laurensklooster (Monastery of Saint Lawrence) was defaced by Protestants. The iconoclasm resulted not only in the destruction of Catholic art, but also cost the lives of many priests. It next spread to Antwerp, and on August 22, to Ghent. One cathedral, eight churches, twenty-five cloisters, ten hospitals and seven chapels were attacked. From there, it further spread east and north, but in total lasted not even a month.

The Eighty Years' War and its consequences

Subsequently, Philip II sent the Duke of Alva to the Provinces to repress the revolt. Alva recaptured the southern part of the Provinces, who signed the Union of Atrecht, which meant that they would accept the Spanish government on condition of more freedom. But the northern part of the provinces signed the Union of Utrecht and settled in 1568 the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Spanish troops quickly started fighting the rebels, but before the revolt could be completely defeated, a war between England and Spain had broken out, forcing Philip's Spanish troops to halt their advance. Meanwhile, the Spanish armies had already conquered the important trading cities of Bruges and Ghent. Antwerp, which was then arguably the most important port in the world, also had to be conquered. On August 17, 1585, Antwerp fell. This ended the Eighty Years' War for the (from now on) Southern Netherlands. The United Provinces (the Netherlands proper) fought on until 1648 – the Peace of Westphalia.

While Spain was at war with England, the rebels from the north, strengthened by refugees from the south, started a campaign to reclaim areas lost to Philips II's Spanish troops. They managed to conquer a considerable part of Brabant (the later Noord-Brabant of the Netherlands), and the south bank of the Scheldt estuary (Zeeuws-Vlaanderen), before being stopped by Spanish troops. The front line at the end of this war stabilized and became the current border between present-day Belgium and the Netherlands. The Dutch (as they later became known) had managed to reclaim enough of Spanish-controlled Flanders to close off the river Scheldt, effectively cutting Antwerp off from its trade routes.

First the fall of Antwerp to the Spanish and later also the closing of the Scheldt were causes of a considerable emigration of Antverpians.[4] Many of the Calvinist merchants of Antwerp and also of other Flemish cities left Flanders and emigrated to the north. A large number of them settled in Amsterdam, which was at the time a smaller port, only of significance in the Baltic trade. In the following years Amsterdam was rapidly transformed into one of the world's most important ports. Because of the contribution of the Flemish exiles to this transformation, the exodus is sometimes described as "creating a new Antwerp".

Flanders and Brabant, due to these events, went into a period of relative decline from the time of the Thirty Years War.[5] In the Northern Netherlands however, the mass emigration from Flanders and Brabant became an important driving force behind the Dutch Golden Age.

1581–1795: The Southern Netherlands

1609 map of the county of Flanders

Although arts remained at a relatively impressive level for another century with Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) and Anthony van Dyck, Flanders experienced a loss of its former economic and intellectual power under Spanish, Austrian, and French rule, with heavy taxation and rigid imperial political control compounding the effects of industrial stagnation and Spanish-Dutch and Franco-Austrian conflict.

1795–1815: French Revolution and Napoleonic France

In 1794 the French Republican Army started using Antwerp as the northernmost naval port of France,[5] which country officially annexed Flanders the following year as the départements of Lys, Escaut, Deux-Nèthes, Meuse-Inférieure and Dyle. Obligatory (French) army service for all men aged 16–25 was one of the main reasons for the people's uprising against the French in 1798, known as the Boerenkrijg (Peasants' War), with the heaviest fighting in the Campine area.

1815–1830: United Kingdom of the Netherlands

After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the 1815 Battle of Waterloo in Waterloo, Brabant, sovereignty over the Austrian Netherlands – Belgium minus the East Cantons and Luxembourg – was given by the Congress of Vienna (1815) to the United Netherlands (Dutch: Verenigde Nederlanden), the state that briefly existed under Sovereign Prince William I of Orange Nassau, the latter King William I of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, after the French Empire was driven out of the Dutch territories. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands was born. The Protestant King of the Netherlands, William I rapidly started the industrialisation of the southern parts of the Kingdom. The political system that was set up however, slowly but surely failed to forge a true union between the northern and the southern parts of the Kingdom. The southern bourgeoisie mainly was Roman Catholic, in contrast to the mainly Protestant north; large parts of the southern bourgeoisie also primarily spoke French rather than Dutch.

In 1815 the Dutch Senate was reinstated (Dutch: Eerste Kamer der Staaten Generaal). The nobility, mainly coming from the south, became more and more estranged from their northern colleagues. Resentment grew both among the Roman Catholics from the south and the Protestants from the north and among the powerful liberal bourgeoisie from the south and their more moderate colleagues from the north. On August 25, 1830 (after the showing of the opera 'La Muette de Portici' of Daniel Auber in Brussels) the Belgian Revolution sparked off and became a fact. On October 4, 1830, the Provisional Authority (Dutch: Voorlopig Bewind) proclaimed the independence which was later confirmed by the National Congress that issued a new Liberal Constitution and declared the new state a Constitutional Monarchy, under the House of Saxe-Coburg. Flanders now became part of the Kingdom of Belgium, which was recognized by the major European Powers on January 20, 1831. The de facto dissidence was only finally recognized by the United Kingdom of the Netherlands on April 19, 1839.

Kingdom of Belgium

In 1830, the Belgian Revolution led to the splitting up of the two countries. Belgium was confirmed as an independent state by the Treaty of London of 1839, but deprived of the eastern half of Limburg (now Dutch Limburg), and the Eastern half of Luxembourg (now the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg) . Sovereignty over Zeeuws Vlaanderen, south of the Westerscheldt river delta, was left with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which was allowed to levy a toll on all traffic to Antwerp harbour until 1863.[5]

Rise of the Flemish Movement

The Belgian Revolution was not well supported in Flanders and even on the 4th of October 1830, when the Belgian independence was eventually declared, Flemish authorities refused to take orders from the new Belgian government in Brussels. Only after Flanders was subdued with the aid of a large French military force one month later, under the leadership of the Count de Pontécoulant, Flanders became a true part of Belgium.

The French-speaking bourgeoisie showed very little respect for the Flemish part of the population. French became the only official language in Belgium and all secondary and higher education in the Flemish language was abolished. Belgium's co-founder, Charles Rogier, wrote in 1832 to Jean-Joseph Raikem, the minister of justice:

"Les premiers principes d'une bonne administration sont basés sur l'emploi exclusif d'une langue, et il est évident que la seule langue des Belges doit être le français. Pour arriver à ce résultat, il est nécessaire que toutes les fonctions civiles et militaires soient confiées à des Wallons et à des Luxembourgeois; de cette manière, les Flamands, privés temporairement des avantages attachés à ces emplois, seront contraints d'apprendre le français, et l'on détruira ainsi peu à peu l'élément germanique en Belgique."

"The first principles of a good administration are based upon the exclusive use of one language, and it is evident that the only language of the Belgians should be French. In order to achieve this result, it is necessary that all civil and military functions are entrusted to Walloons and Luxemburgers; this way, the Flemish, temporarily deprived of the advantages of these offices, will be constrained to learn French, and we will hence destroy bit by bit the Germanic element in Belgium."

In 1838, another co-founder, senator Alexandre Gendebien, even declared that the Flemish were "one of the more inferior races on the Earth, just like the negroes".

In 1834, all people even remotely suspected of being "Flemish minded" or calling for the reunification of the Netherlands were prosecuted and their houses looted and burnt. Flanders, until then a very prosperous European region, was not considered worthwhile for investment and scholarship. A study in 1918 demonstrated that in the first 88 years of its existence, 80% of the Belgian GNP was invested in Wallonia. This led to a widespread poverty in Flanders, forcing roughly 300.000 Flemish to emigrate to Wallonia to start working there in the heavy industry.

All of these events led to a silent uprising in Flanders against the French-speaking domination. But it was not until 1878 that Dutch was allowed to be used for official purposes in Flanders, although French remained the only official language in Belgium.

A remarkable case happened in 1872. Jozef Schoep, a Fleming, presented himself at the town hall of Sint-Jans Molenbeek to declare the birth of his son. The civil servant noted the declarations made in Dutch by Schoep in French and also addressed him in French. Schoep didn't understand the language and left the town hall as a sign of protest, without having signed the necessary documents. The Brussels' court condemned him to a fine of 50 Francs plus tax. Schoep rejected this verdict, accompanied by two solicitors who both stated that they would plead in Dutch. The president of the court at first didn't allow this, but afterwards changed his mind. Eventually, the pleaders were allowed to use Dutch on the condition that their pleas would be translated into French by an official interpreter because the judges didn't know a single word of Dutch. Schoep's sollicitors also demanded that the State would have its plea translated, but this was again rejected by the court. Eventually the case went to the supreme court, which ruled that pleading in Dutch would be forbidden. Its verdict was based on the so-called freedom of language and that no-one could ask from any judge to know any other language but French. Mr. Schoep's son had to wait until 1882 before he'd receive a legal birth certificate. His father had died in the mean time.

One year later, Dutch was again allowed in secondary schools; the first of which reopened in 1889. The Flemings had to wait until 1919—after many Flemish soldiers died in the trenches of World War I—to have their language officially recognised and until 1930 before the first Flemish university was reopened.

The first translation of the Belgian constitution in Dutch was not published until 1967.

World War I and its consequences

Flanders (and Belgium as a whole) saw some of the greatest loss of life on the Western Front of the First World War, in particular from the three battles of Ypres. Due to the hundreds of thousands of casualties at Ypres, the poppies that sprang up from the battlefield afterwards, later immortalised in the Canadian poem "In Flanders Fields", written by John McCrae, have become a symbol for lives lost in war.

Flemish feeling of identity and consciousness grew through the events and experiences of war. The German occupying authorities had taken several Flemish-friendly measures. More importantly, the experiences of many Dutch-speaking soldiers on the front led by French speaking officers catalysed Flemish emancipation. The French speaking officers barked the orders in French, followed by "et pour les Flamands, la même chose", which basically meant, "Same thing for the Flemish", which obviously did not help the Flemish conscripts, who were mostly uneducated farmers and workers, who didn't speak French at all.[citation needed] The resulting suffering is still remembered by Flemish organizations during the yearly Yser pilgrimage in Diksmuide at the monument of the Yser Tower.

Right-Wing Nationalism in the interbellum and World War II

During the interbellum and World War II, several right-wing fascist and/or national-socialistic parties emerged in Belgium, of which the Flemish ones drew unto the feeling of discrimination by the Wallonians against the Flemish. Since these parties were promised more rights for the Flemings by the German government during World War II, some of them collaborated with the Nazi regime. After the war, collaborators (or people who were "Zwart", "Black" during the war) were of course prosecuted and punished, and amongst those were much Flemish Nationalists, whose main goal was more rights for Flanders. As a result, up until this day Flemish Nationalism is often wrongly associated with right wing and fascist ideologies.

Communautary quibbles and the Egmont pact

Recent events

Fake revolution

On 13 December 2006, a spoof news broadcast by the Belgian Francophone public broadcasting station RTBF declared that Flanders had decided to declare independence from Belgium, and that the King and Queen of Belgium had already left the country by plane. Images were shown of people celebrating and waving flags in the background. Within minutes of the beginning of the broadcast, the news station was flooded with calls from concerned French speaking Belgians. It was only half an hour after the beginning of the broadcast that the disclaimer "This is fiction" was displayed. It was revealed that the programme had been broadcast to stimulate discussion of this subject[6].

Belgian federal elections

The 2007 elections showed an extraordinary outcome in terms of support for Flemish autonomy. All the political parties that advocated a significant increase of Flemish autonomy increased their share of the votes and seats in the Belgian parliament. This was especially the case for CD&V and N-VA (forming a cartel). In addition, the very assertive Lijst Dedecker gained a spectacular entry in parliament. It got even slightly ahead of the greens (Groen!). The outright secessionist Vlaams Belang remained strong, but stalled. The main parties advocating more or less the current Belgian institutions and only modest increases in Flemish autonomy severely lost (Groen!, OpenVLD, and especially SP.A). The 2009 regional elections have strengthened the parties in favor a significant increase of Flemish autonomy: CD&V and N-VA were the clear winners, while LDD consolidated its position, whereas openVLD, SP.A and Groen! further decreased their voters' share.

These victories for the advocates of much more Flemish autonomy are very much in parallel with opinion polls that show a structural increase in popular support for their agenda. Since 2006, certain polls have started showing a majority in favor of Flemish independence. Those polls are not yet representative, but they point to a significant long-term trend.

Several negotiators having come and gone since the last federal elections of 10 June 2007 without diminishing the disagreements between Flemish and Walloon politicians regarding a further State reform, continues to prevent the formation of the federal government.

Government and politics

Both the Flemish Community and the Flemish Region are constitutional institutions of the Kingdom of Belgium with precise geographical boundaries. In practice, the Flemish Community and Region together form a single body, with its own parliament and government, as the Community legally absorbed the competences of the Region.

The area of the Flemish Community is represented on the maps above, including the area of the Brussels-Capital Region (hatched on the relevant map). Roughly, the Flemish Community exercises competences originally oriented towards the individuals of the Community's language: culture (including audiovisual media), education, and the use of the language. Extensions to personal matters less directly associated with language comprise sports, health policy (curative and preventive medicine), and assistance to individuals (protection of youth, social welfare, aid to families, immigrant assistance services, etc.).[7]

The area of the Flemish Region is represented on the maps above. It has a population of around 6 million (excluding the Dutch-speaking community in the Brussels Region, grey on the map for it is not a part of the Flemish Region). Roughly, the Flemish Region is responsible for territorial issues in a broad sense, including economy, employment, agriculture, water policy, housing, public works, energy, transport, the environment, town and country planning, nature conservation, credit, and foreign trade. It supervises the provinces, municipalities, and intercommunal utility companies.[8]

The number of Dutch-speaking Flemish people in the Capital Region is estimated to be between 11% and 15% (official figures do not exist as there is no language census and no official subnationality). According to a survey conducted by the Université Catholique de Louvain in Louvain-La-Neuve and published in June 2006, 51% of respondents from Brussels claimed to be bilingual, even if they do not have Dutch as their first language.[9][10] They are governed by the Brussels Region for economics affairs and by the Flemish Community for educational and cultural issues.

As of 2005, Flemish institutions such as Flanders' government, parliament, etc. represent the Flemish Community and the Flemish region. The region and the community thus de facto share the same parliament and the same government. All these institutions are based in Brussels. Nevertheless, both bodies (the Community and the Region) still exist and the distinction between both is important for the people living in Brussels. Members of the Flemish parliament who were elected in the Brussels Region cannot vote on affairs belonging to the competences of the Flemish Region.

The official language for all Flemish institutions is Dutch. French enjoys a limited official recognition in a dozen municipalities along the borders with French-speaking Wallonia, and a large recognition in the bilingual Brussels Region. French is widely known in Flanders, with 59% claiming to know French according to a survey conducted by the Université catholique de Louvain in Louvain-La-Neuve and published in June 2006.[11][12]

Politics

Many new political parties during the last half century were founded in Flanders: the nationalist Volksunie of which the right nationalist Vlaams Blok (Vlaams Belang) split off, and which later dissolved into the former SPIRIT (now SLP), moderate nationalism rather left of the spectrum, and the NVA, more conservative moderate nationalism; the leftist alternative/ecological Groen!; the short-lived anarchistic libertarian spark ROSSEM and more recently the conservative-right liberal Lijst Dedecker, founded by Jean-Marie Dedecker.

Flemish nation

For many Flemings, Flanders is more than just a geographical area or the federal institutions (Flemish Community and Region). Some even call it a nation: a people of over 6 million living in the Flemish Region and in the Brussels-Capital Region. Flemings share many political, cultural, scientific, social and educational views. Although most Flemings identify themselves more with Flanders than with Belgium, the largest group defines itself as both Flemish and Belgian. The idea of an independent Flanders finds its root in the romantic nationalism of the 19th century.[citation needed]

Administrative divisions

Provinces of Flanders

The Flemish Region covers 13,522 km2 (5,221 sq mi) and contains over 300 municipalities. It is divided into 5 provinces:

  1. Antwerp (Antwerpen)
  2. Limburg (Limburg)
  3. East Flanders (Oost-Vlaanderen)
  4. Flemish Brabant (Vlaams-Brabant)
  5. West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen)

Independently from the provinces, Flanders has its own local institutions in the Brussels-Capital Region, being the Vlaamse GemeenschapsCommissie (VGC), and its municipal antennae (Gemeenschapscentra, community centers for the Flemish community in Brussels). These institutions are independent from the educational, cultural and social institutions which depend directly on the Flemish government. They exert, among others, all those cultural competences that outside Brussels fall under the provinces.

Geography and climate

Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Leuven are the largest cities of the Flemish Region. Antwerp has a population of more than 470,000 citizens and is the largest city, Ghent has a population of 240,000 citizens, followed by Bruges with 120,000 citizens and Leuven counts almost 100,000 citizens. Brussels is a part of Flanders as far as community matters are concerned, but does not belong to the Flemish Region.

Flanders has two main geographical regions: the coastal Yser basin plain in the north-west and a central plain. The first consists mainly of sand dunes and clayey alluvial soils in the polders. Polders are areas of land, close to or below sea level that have been reclaimed from the sea, from which they are protected by dikes or, a little further inland, by fields that have been drained with canals. With similar soils along the lowermost Scheldt basin starts the central plain, a smooth, slowly rising fertile area irrigated by many waterways that reaches an average height of about five metres (16.4 ft) above sea level with wide valleys of its rivers upstream as well as the Campine region to the east having sandy soils at altitudes around thirty metres[13] Near its southern edges close to Wallonia one can find slightly rougher land richer of calcium with low hills reaching up to 150 m (492 ft) and small valleys, and at the eastern border with the Netherlands, in the Meuse basin, there are marl caves (mergelgrotten). Its exclave around Voeren between the Dutch border and the Walloon province of Liège attains a maximum altitude of 288 m (945 ft) above sea level.[14][15]

The climate is maritime temperate, with significant precipitation in all seasons (Köppen climate classification: Cfb; the average temperature is 3 °C (37 °F) in January, and 18 °C (64 °F) in July; the average precipitation is 65 millimetres (2.6 in) in January, and 78 millimetres (3.1 in) in July).

Economy

Total GDP of the Flemish Region in 2004 was € 165,847 million (Eurostat figures). Per capita GDP at purchasing power parity was 23% above the EU average.

Flanders was one of the first continental European areas to undergo the Industrial Revolution, in the 19th century. Initially, the modernization relied heavily on food processing and textile. However, by the 1840s the textile industry of Flanders was in severe crisis and there was famine in Flanders (1846–50). After World War II, Antwerp and Ghent experienced a fast expansion of the chemical and petroleum industries. Flanders also attracted a large majority of foreign investments in Belgium, among others thanks to its well-educated and industrious labour force.[citation needed] The 1973 and 1979 oil crises sent the economy into a recession. The steel industry remained in relatively good shape. In the 1980s and 90s, the economic centre of the Belgium continued to shift further to Flanders. Nowadays, the Flemish economy is mainly service-oriented, although its diverse industry remains a crucial force.[citation needed] Flemish productivity per capita is between 20 and 25% higher than that in Wallonia.[citation needed]

Flanders has developed an excellent transportation infrastructure of ports, canals, railways and highways.[citation needed] The Port of Antwerp is the second-largest in Europe, after Rotterdam.[16]

In 1999, the euro, the single European currency, was introduced in Flanders. It replaced the Belgian franc in 2002. The Flemish economy is strongly export oriented, in particular of high value-added goods.[citation needed] The main imports are food products, machinery, rough diamonds, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, clothing and accessories, and textiles. The main exports are automobiles, food and food products, iron and steel, finished diamonds, textiles, plastics, petroleum products, and nonferrous metals. Since 1922, Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market within a customs and currency union—the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union. Its main trading partners are Germany, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, the United States and Spain.[citation needed]

Demographics

The highest population density is found in the area circumscribed by the Brussels-Antwerp-Ghent-Leuven agglomerations that surround Mechelen and is known as the Flemish Diamond, in other important urban centres as Bruges and Kortrijk to the west, and notable centres Turnhout and Hasselt to the east. In April 2005 the Flemish Region had a population of 6,058,368, and about 15% of the 1,018,029 people in the Brussels Region are also considered Flemish.[17]

The (Belgian) laicist constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the various government generally respects this right in practice. Since independence, Catholicism, counterbalanced by strong freethought movements, has had an important role in Belgium's politics, since the 20th century in Flanders mainly via the Christian trade union (ACV) and the Christian Democrat party (CD&V). According to the 2001 Survey and Study of Religion,[18] about 47 percent of the Belgian population identify themselves as belonging to the Catholic Church, while Islam is the second-largest religion at 3.5 percent. A 2006 inquiry in Flanders, considered more religious than Wallonia, showed that 55% considered themselves religious, and 36% believed that God created the world.[19] (See also Religion in Belgium).

Education is compulsory from the ages of six to 18, but most Flemings continue to study until around 23. Among the OECD countries in 1999, Flanders had the third-highest proportion of 18–21-year-olds enrolled in postsecondary education. Flanders also scores very high in international comparative studies on education. Its secondary school students consistently rank among the top three for mathematics and science. However, the success is not evenly spread: ethnic minority youth score consistently lower, and the difference is larger than in most comparable countries.

Mirroring the historical political conflicts between the freethought and Catholic segments of the population, the Flemish educational system is split into a laïque branch controlled by the communities, the provinces, or the municipalities, and a subsidised religious—mostly Catholic—branch controlled by both the communities and the religious authorities—usually the dioceses. It should however be noted that—at least for the Catholic schools—the religious authorities have very limited power over these schools. Smaller school systems follow 'methodical pedagogies' (Steiner, Montessori, Freinet, ...) or serve the Jewish and Protestant minorities. During the school year 2003-2004, 68.30% of the total population of children between the ages of six and 18 went to subsidized private schools (both religious schools or 'methodical pedagogies' schools). [20]

Language and culture

The standard language in Flanders is Dutch; a single authority, the Nederlandse Taalunie, comprising appointees of the Belgian and Netherlands governments, sets standards for spelling and grammar. The term Flemish can be applied to the Dutch spoken in Flanders; it shows many regional and local variants.

At first sight, Flemish culture is defined by its language and its gourmandic mentality, as compared to the more Calvinistic Dutch culture. Although Flanders has never existed as an independent country, a tradition of Flemish literature has existed for centuries; with writers and poets such as Guido Gezelle, who not only explicitly referred to his writings as Flemish, but actually used it in many of his poems, and strongly defended it:

Original
"Gij zegt dat ‘t vlaams te niet zal gaan:
‘t zal niet!
dat ‘t waals gezwets zal boven staan:
‘t zal niet!
Dat hopen, dat begeren wij:
dat zeggen en dat zweren wij:
zo lang als wij ons verdedigen, wij:
‘t zal niet, ‘t zal niet,
‘t zal niet!"

Translation
"You say Flemish will disappear:
It will not!
that Walloonish rantings will prevail:
It will not!
This we hope, this we crave:
this we say and this we swear:
as long as we defend ourselves, we:
It will not, It will not,
It will not!"

This distinction in literature is also made by some experts such as Kris Humbeeck, professor of Literature at the University of Antwerp [1]. Nevertheless, the near totality of Dutch-language literature read (and appreciated to varying degrees) in Flanders is the same as in the Netherlands.

Influential Flemish writers include Ernest Claes, Stijn Streuvels and Felix Timmermans; their novels mostly describe rural life in Flanders in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. They were widely read by the elder generation but are considered somewhat old-fashioned by present day critics. Some famous Flemish writers from the early 20th century wrote in French, like Nobel Prize winners (1911) Maurice Maeterlinck and Emile Verhaeren. Still widely read and translated into other languages (including English) are the novels of authors like Willem Elsschot, Louis Paul Boon and Hugo Claus. The younger generation is represented by novelists like Tom Lanoye, Herman Brusselmans and the poet Herman de Coninck.

Flanders is also famous for its Flemish art.

See also

References

  1. ^ William Robertson, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V (NY, 1874), p 116
  2. ^ William Robertson, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V (NY, 1874), p 456
  3. ^ The birth and growth of Utrecht
  4. ^ Footnote: An Antverpian, derived from Antverpia, the Latin name of Antwerp, is an inhabitant of this city; the term is also the adjective expressing that its substantive is from or in that city or belongs to it.
  5. ^ a b c "Antwerp — History". Find it in Flanders. Tourism Flanders & Brussels, Flanders House, London, UK. http://www.visitflanders.co.uk/cont61_Antwerp_history.aspx. Retrieved 2007-01-02. 
  6. ^ http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Fictional_documentary_about_Flemish_independence_causes_consternation_in_Belgium
  7. ^ "The Communities". .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. http://www.belgium.be/eportal/application?origin=navigationBanner.jsp&event=bea.portal.framework.internal.refresh&pageid=indexPage&navId=2686. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  8. ^ "The Regions". .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. http://www.belgium.be/eportal/application?origin=navigationBanner.jsp&event=bea.portal.framework.internal.refresh&pageid=indexPage&navId=2690. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  9. ^ (French) Report of study by the Université Catholique de Louvain
  10. ^ (Dutch) Article at Taaluniversum.org summarising report
  11. ^ *Report of study by Universite Catholique de Louvain (in French)
  12. ^ *Article at Taaluniversum.org summarising report (in Dutch)
  13. ^ The altitude of Mechelen, approximately in the middle of the central plain forming the large part of Flanders, is 7 m (23 ft) above sea level. Already closer to the higher southern Wallonia, the more eastern Leuven and Hasselt reach altitudes up to about 40 m (131 ft) "Kingdom of Belgium map (politically outdated)". http://www.planetware.com/map/belgium-kingdom-of-belgium-map-b-belg.htm. Retrieved 15 May 2007. 
  14. ^ Ir. Jan Strubbe in collaboration with Dr. Frank Mostaert and Ir. Koen Maeghe. "Flood management in Flanders with special focus on navigable waterways" (PDF). Ministry of the Flemish Community, department Environment and Infrastructure (Waterbouwkundig Laboratorium, Flanders Hydraulics Research, Administratie Waterwegen en Zeewezen). http://watlab.lin.vlaanderen.be/documents/Position%20paper%20Flanders%20def3.pdf. Retrieved 2007. "Flanders is covered by the three major catchment basins (Yser, Scheldt and Meuse). This rather lowlying nearly flat region (2 to 150 m/6–492 ft altitude above sea-level) ..." 
  15. ^ Myriam Dumortier, Luc De Bruyn, Maarten Hens, Johan Peymen, Anik Schneiders, Toon Van Daele, Wouter Van Reeth, Gisèle Weyembergh and Eckhart Kuijken (2006). "Biodiversity Indicators 2006 - State of Nature in Flanders (Belgium)" (PDF). Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Brussels. http://www.inbo.be/docupload/2648.pdf. Retrieved 2007. "The altitude ranges from a few meters above sea-level in the Polders to 288 m (945 ft) above sea-level in the south eastern exclave." 
  16. ^ "Focus on the port". Port of Antwerp. http://www.portofantwerp.com/portal/page/portal/POA_EN/Focus%20op%20de%20haven/Een%20wereldhaven. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  17. ^ Official statistics of Belgium
  18. ^ "Belgium". International Religious Freedom Report 2004. US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 2004. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35444.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  19. ^ Inquiry by 'Vepec', 'Vereniging voor Promotie en Communicatie' (Organisation for Promotion and Communication), published in Knack magazine 22 November 2006 p. 14 [The Dutch language term 'gelovig' is in the text translated as 'religious', more precisely it is a very common word for believing in particular in any kind of God in a monotheistic sense, and/or in some afterlife.
  20. ^ "Education in Flanders" (PDF). A broad view of the Flemish educational landscape. Ministry of the Flemish Community. 2005. http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/publicaties/2005/educationinflandersbroadview.pdf. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Benelux : Belgium : Flanders

Flanders [1] is the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium. It is wedged between the North Sea and the Netherlands in the North and Wallonia and France in the South. This region has an immense historical and cultural wealth which is made visible through its buildings, its works of art and its festivals. Every turn of a corner will bring you something new.

Antwerp
East Flanders
Flemish Brabant
Limburg
West Flanders
  • Antwerp is Belgium's biggest city. It boasts the biggest port.
  • Bruges Brugge, also known as the "Venice of the north". A very nice medieval town with lots of small canals. Very close to the sea. One of the world's main tourist sites
  • Brussels Technically a federal district of Belgium within Flanders, so it's not part of Flanders but it's in the Flemish community and surrounded by Flanders. And it houses the Flemish governmental buildings making it Flanders' capital. Virtually wiped out in the 19th and 20th centuries to make way for all those municipal, Flemish, Belgian and even European office blocks.
  • Ghent A more medieval city located approximatively in the center of Flanders, half way between Antwerp and Brugge.
  • Hasselt Capital city of Limburg, with a lot of green and shopping possibilities.
  • Ypres - officially Ieper in Flemish - made famous by its destruction during the First World War; full of memorials and museums (see also Flanders Fields Country).
  • Kortrijk A rather small provincial city in the south of West-Flanders.
  • Lier A small often neglected provincial town in the province of Antwerp. Has a nice beguinage.
  • Leuven An old town with a very old university and the most beautiful town hall you may ever see. Like many Belgian cities it's also home to typical traditional Belgian breweries.
  • Mechelen a small town with a picture perfect cathedral, ideal background for snapshots and popular daytrip from Antwerp and Leuven.
  • Oostende is a cosmopolitan 19th century beach resort. Popular as a day trip from Brugge.

The historical Flanders is a bit bigger and contains cities that are now in France and in The Netherlands, like:

  • Calais (FR)
  • Dunkerque (FR), also known as Duinkerken in Flemish.
  • Lille (FR), also known as Rijsel in Dutch.
  • Sluis (NL), nice old town

Understand

Nowadays, Flanders is one of the three federal regions of Belgium (the other two being Wallonia and Brussels). This means that it has its own government, a parliament and separate laws. Oddly enough the capital of Flanders is Brussels, lying in another federal region. But Flanders has travelled a long historic road before arriving at its present situation. For most of its history it was united with the Netherlands, which is still the closest partner. It was separated from the Netherlands and united with Wallonia as late as the 19th century, and the marriage is at times an unhappy one.

Get in

By Plane

Flanders has 3 airports: First of all the national airport of Zaventem (close to Brussels)
Then there are several smaller airports: Deurne (Antwerp) and Oostende (at the coast)

By Boat

There are several ports at the coast to enter by boat and on the Schelde you can find several small ports too.
From the English coast (Dover f.e.) there are regular ferries to different cities.

By Car

The E19 goes through Flanders, also the E40 crosses the region.

By Train

Big cities in neighbouring countries (Paris, Amsterdam, London ...) have connections to bigger cities in Flanders. From there you can change train and reach every city in Flanders.

Other means

By bicycle or on foot. As we are in the European Union there are no borders and you can enter. Several places have nature parks and allow you to walk in and out (often following old-smugglers routes).

Get around

By car

All roads (highways, main roads, ...) are free in Flanders. Some tunnels can ask for a fee to pass it (fe. Liefkenshoektunnel in Antwerp) Roads are pretty good and signalisation is pretty good too. Older cities can appear to be a maze of one-way streets. Often it is better to park your car in a parking and continue on foot. Towns are not big in general.

Public Transportations

The national train-company is called NMBS [2]. Trains will get you to most cities.
In cities you will find busses, trams and metro from De Lijn [3](The Line). The same ticket is valid for 90 minutes for one zone. You can buy multiple-ride tickets (Lijnkaart), this is cheaper than buying a ticket per ride. These tickets are valid in every Flemish city.
In Hasselt public transportation is free!

By Bike

Flanders has a vast net of special roads for bicycles. Get a map in a tourists office, because sometimes they can be hard to find. In general cycling can be very pleasant, though don't expect to find many places where you can repair your bike.

Talk

The official language of Flanders is Dutch, although English, French and German are widely understood. A typical Fleming will always try to speak the foreigner's language but he really appreciates a foreigner speaking some words of his native tongue Flemish, as the variety of Dutch spoken in Flanders is usually called, differs slightly from Dutch spoken in the Netherlands. There are typical words, phrases and expressions that are not used in the North, and the accent is quite distinct too. (One of the most obvious is the soft g-sound as opposed to the harsh sound heard in the Netherlands.) Although it is the same language, you might be surprised to see Dutch television programs subtitled in Flanders and vice versa. Generally the older generation speaks better French (a long time ago only French was used in administration and industry), and the younger generation better English (there is more contact with the English language through music, computers and internet).

See

Historical cities, like Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Leuven or Mechelen. The first four are the Top Four tourist destinations in the country.

Do

Music Festivals

There are many music festivals organised throughout the summer. The bigger ones happen in a small village, because there is lots of space and not many neighbours to complain about the noise.
Some of the famous ones are:

  • Pukkelpop (Near Hasselt) is still an independent festival organised by youth movements. They figure big names but try to have alternative groups too.
  • Rock Werchter (Near Leuven), owned by Clearchannel features all big commercial bands.
  • Maanrock (in Mechelen) is one of the larger free festivals. It's inside the city.
  • Marktrock (in Leuven) has many different stages with different kinds of music all over the city. Most music is popular music, though there are many small bands playing there. The main stage is the only stage not to be free. Every time you enter you pay a small fee (5 euro in 2003).
  • Sfinks (Near Antwerp) is a world music festival. It has a really nice atmosphere. There is a lot of side animation, like a big market.
  • Pole-Pole
  • Openluchttheater Rivierenhof (Near Antwerp) isn't really a festival, though it has big bands all through the summer. Usually they "pick up" artists that have a few days without a gig.
  • Couleur Café
  • Werchter Classic (Near Leuven) boasts classic rock bands, but has been featuring artists that had their break-through only recently. It's mostly a re-use of the Rock Werchter facilities.
  • Graspop (Metal music), Rythm 'n Blues, Dranouter (Folk music), Cactus festival, Rock Ternat, Rock@Edegem ... (there are too many to sum up)

The festivals organised in towns are often free and very nice. They stay away from commercial music and have good bands playing combined with small local bands. Flanders has some nice music bands with some internation fame(dEUS, Das Pop, Zita Swoon, Soulwax,...)

Drink

Cafes

Every city, village or habited place has a cafe. You will find every style of café and if you have a problem this is the prime location to get help. Asking for a beer needs some of your attention as any café offers a broad range of beer kinds: blond pilsener, white beer, gueze, kriek, trappist/abbey style beers, amber colour. All beers are at reasonable prices from €1.3 to €3. Many cafes offer you even a wider range. Twenty and even more than 100 kinds of beer are no exception. Try them! They have all their own distinctive taste.

Stay safe

Flanders is very safe. You will find that people are usually very helpful. In towns, you should of course beware of usual things (pickpockets in tourist places) but outside Brussels, everything is safe.

Get out

If you visit Flanders it would be very logical to also visit the Walloons. Though there is a different mentality, you will find that they are Belgians just like the Flemish (lots of beer and good food).

Paris is pretty close, so are London and Amsterdam. These destinations can be reached by train easily. The Waddeneilanden in The Netherlands are also not too far.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Cornhuskers by Carl Sandburg
Flanders
Listen to this text (help | file info or download)
Information about this edition

FLANDERS, the name of a place, a country of people,
Spells itself with letters, is written in books.

“Where is Flanders?” was asked one time,
Flanders known only to those who lived there
And milked cows and made cheese and spoke the home language.

“Where is Flanders?” was asked.
And the slang adepts shot the reply: Search me.

A few thousand people milking cows, raising radishes,
On a land of salt grass and dunes, sand-swept with a sea-breath on it:
This was Flanders, the unknown, the quiet,
The place where cows hunted lush cuds of green on lowlands,
And the raw-boned plowmen took horses with long shanks
Out in the dawn to the sea-breath.

Flanders sat slow-spoken amid slow-swung windmills,
Slow-circling windmill arms turning north or west,
Turning to talk to the swaggering winds, the childish winds,
So Flanders sat with the heart of a kitchen girl
Washing wooden bowls in the winter sun by a window.


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FLANDERS (Flem. Vlaanderen), a territorial name for part of the Netherlands, Europe. Originally it applied only to Bruges and the immediate neighbourhood. In the 8th and 9th centuries it was gradually extended to the whole of the coast region from Calais to the Scheldt. In the middle ages this was divided into two parts, one looking to Bruges as its capital, and the other to Ghent. The name is retained in the two Belgian provinces of West and East Flanders.

1. West Flanders is the portion bordering the North Sea, and its coast-line extends from the French to the Dutch frontier for a little over 40 m. Its capital is Bruges, and the principal towns of the province are Ostend, Courtrai, Ypres and Roulers. Agriculture is the chief occupation of the population, and the country is under the most careful and skilful cultivation. The admiration of the foreign observer for the Belgian system of market gardening is not diminished on learning that the subsoil of most of this tract is the sand of the "dunes." Fishing employs a large proportion of the coast population. The area of West Flanders is officially computed at 808,667 acres or 1263 sq. m. In 1904 the population was 845,732, giving an average of 669 to the sq. m.

2. East Flanders lies east and north-east of the western province, and extends northwards to the neighbourhood of Antwerp. It is still more productive and richer than Western Flanders, and is well watered by the Scheldt. The district of Waes, land entirely reclaimed within the memory of man, is supposed to be the most productive district of its size in Europe. The principal towns are Ghent (capital of the province), St Nicolas, Alost, Termonde, Eecloo and Oudenarde. The area is given at 749,987 acres or 1172 sq. m. In 1904 the population was 1,073,507, showing an average of 916 per sq. m.

History

The ancient territory of Flanders comprised not only the modern provinces known as East and West Flanders, but the southernmost portion of the Dutch province of Zeeland and a considerable district in north-western France. In the time of Caesar it was inhabited by the Morini, Atrebates and other Celtic tribes, but in the centuries that followed the land was repeatedly overrun by German invaders, and finally became a part of the dominion of the Franks. On the break-up of the Carolingian empire the river Scheldt was by the treaty of Verdun (843) made the line of division between the kingdom of East Francia (Austrasia) under the emperor Lothaire, and the kingdom of West Francia (Neustria) under Charles the Bald. In virtue of this compact Flanders was henceforth attached to the West Frankish monarchy (France). It thus acquired a position unique among the provinces of the territory known in later times as the Netherlands, all of which were included in that northern part of Austrasia assigned on the death of the emperor Lothaire (855) to King Lothaire II., and from his name called Lotharingia or Lorraine.

The first ruler of Flanders of whom history has left any record is Baldwin, surnamed Bras-defer (Iron-arm). This man, a brave and daring warrior under Charles the Bald, fell in love with the king's daughter Judith, the youthful widow of two English kings, married her, and fled with his bride to Lorraine. Charles, though at first very angry, was at last conciliated, and made his son-in-law margrave (Marchio Flandriae) of Flanders, which he held as an hereditary fief. The Northmen were at this time continually devastating the coast lands, and Baldwin was entrusted with the possession of this outlying borderland of the west Frankish dominion in order to defend it against the invaders. He was the first of a line of strong rulers, who at some date early in the 10th century exchanged the title of margrave for that of count. His son, Baldwin II. - the Bald - from his stronghold at Bruges maintained, as did his father before him, a vigorous defence of his lands against the incursions of the Northmen. On his mother's side a descendant of Charlemagne, he strengthened the dynastic importance of his family by marrying Aelfthryth, daughter of Alfred the Great. On his death in 918 his possessions were divided between his two sons Arnulf the Elder and Adolphus, but the latter survived only a short time and Arnulf succeeded to the whole inheritance. His reign was filled with warfare against the Northmen, and he took an active part in the struggles in Lorraine between the emperor Otto I. and Hugh Capet. In his old age he placed the government in the hands of Baldwin, his son by Adela, daughter of the count of Vermandois, and the young man, though his reign was a very short one, did a great deal for the commercial and industrial progress of the country, establishing the first weavers and fullers at Ghent, and instituting yearly fairs at Ypres, Bruges and other places.

On Baldwin III.'s death in 961 the old count resumed the control, and spent the few remaining years of his life in securing the succession of his grandson Arnulf II. - the Younger. The reign of Arnulf was terminated by his death in 989, and he was followed by his son Baldwin IV., named Barbatus or the Bearded. This Baldwin fought successfully both against the Capetian king of France and the emperor Henry II. Henry found himself obliged to grant to Baldwin IV. in fief Valenciennes, the burgraveship of Ghent, the land of Waes, and Zeeland. The count of Flanders thus became a feudatory of the empire as well as of the French crown. The French fiefs are known in Flemish history as Crown Flanders (Kroon-Vlaanderen), the German fiefs as Imperial Flanders (Rijks-Vlaanderen). Baldwin's son - afterwards Baldwin V. - rebelled in 1028 against his father at the instigation of his wife Adela, daughter of Robert II. of France; but two years later peace was sworn at Oudenaarde, and the old count continued to reign till his death in 1036. Baldwin V. proved a worthy successor, and acquired from the people the surname of Debonnaire. He was an active enterprising man, and greatly extended his power by wars and alliances. He obtained from the emperor Henry IV. the territory between the Scheldt and the Dender as an imperial fief, and the margraviate of Antwerp. So powerful had he become that the Flemish count on the decease of Henry I. of France in 1060 was appointed regent during the minority of Philip I. (see France). Before his death he saw his eldest daughter Matilda (d. 1083) sharing the English throne with William the Conqueror, his eldest son Baldwin of Mons in possession of Hainaut in right of his wife Richilde, heiress of Regnier V. (d. 1036) and widow of Hermann of Saxony (d. 1050/1) (see Hainaut), and his second son Robert the Frisian regent (voogd) of the county of Holland during the minority of Dirk V., whose mother, Gertrude of Saxony, widow of Floris I. of Holland (d. 1061), Robert had married (see Holland). On his death in 1067 his son Baldwin of Mons, already count of Hainaut, succeeded to the countship of Flanders. Baldwin V. had granted to Robert the Frisian on his marriage in 1063 his imperial fiefs. His right to these was disputed by Baldwin VI., and war broke out between the two brothers. Baldwin was killed in battle in 1070. Robert now claimed the tutelage of Baldwin's children and obtained the support of the emperor Henry IV., while Richilde, Baldwin's widow, appealed to Philip I. of France. The contest was decided at Ravenshoven, near Cassel, on the 22nd of February 1071, where Robert was victorious. Richilde was taken prisoner and her eldest son Arnulf III. was slain. Robert obtained from Philip I. the investiture of Crown Flanders, and from Henry IV. the fiefs which formed Imperial Flanders.

The second son of Richilde was recognized as count of Hainaut (see Hainaut), which was thus after a brief union separated from Flanders. Robert died in 1093, and was succeeded by his son Robert II., who acquired great renown by his exploits in the first crusade, and won the name of the Lance and Sword of Christendom. His fame was second only to that of Godfrey of Bouillon. Robert returned to Flanders in i ioo. He fought with his suzerain Louis the Fat of France against the English, and was drowned in 1111 by the breaking of a bridge. His son and successor, Baldwin VII., or Baldwin with the Axe, also fought against the English in France. He died at the age of twenty-seven from the wound of an arrow, in 1119, leaving no heir. He nominated as his successor his cousin Charles, son of Knut IV. of Denmark and of Adela, daughter of Robert the Frisian. Charles tried his utmost to put down oppression and to promote the welfare of his subjects, and obtained the surname of "the Good." His determination to enforce the right made him many enemies, and he was foully murdered on Ash Wednesday, 1127, at Bruges. He died childless, and there were no less than six candidates to the countship. The contest lay between two of these, William Clito, son of Robert of Normandy and grandson of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders, and Thierry or Dirk of Alsace, whose mother Gertrude was a daughter of Robert the Frisian. William Clito, through the support of Louis of France, was at first accepted by the Flemish nobles as count, but he gave offence to the communes, who supported Thierry. A struggle ensued and William was killed before Alost. Thierry then became count without further opposition. He married the widow of Charles the Good, Marguerite of Clermont, and proved himself at home a wise and prudent prince, encouraging the growth of popular liberty and of commerce. In 1146 he took part in the second crusade and distinguished himself by his exploits. In 1157 he resigned the countship to his son Philip of Alsace and betook himself once more to Jerusalem. On his return from the East twenty years later Thierry retired to a monastery to die in his own land.

Count Philip of Alsace was a strong and able man. He did much to promote the growth of the municipalities for which Flanders was already becoming famous. Ghent, Bruges, Ypres, Lille and Douai under him made much progress as flourishing industrial towns. He also conferred rights and privileges on a number of ports, Hulst, Nieuwport, Sluis, Dunkirk, Axel, Damme, Gravelines and others. But while encouraging the development of the communes and "free towns," Philip sternly repressed any spirit of independence or attempted uprisings against his authority. This count was a powerful prince. He acted for a time as regent in France during the minority of his godson Philip Augustus, and married his ward to his niece Isabella of Hainaut (1180). Philip took part in the third crusade, and died in the camp before Acre of the pestilence in 1191.

As he had no children, the succession passed to Baldwin of Hainaut, who had married Philip's sister Margaret. The countships of Flanders and Hainaut were thus united under the same ruler. Baldwin did not obtain possession of Flanders without strong opposition on the part of the French king, and he was obliged to cede Artois, St Omer, Lens, Hesdin and a great part of southern Flanders to France, and to allow Matilda of Portugal, the widow of Philip of Alsace, to retain certain towns in right of her dowry. Margaret died in 1194 and Baldwin the following year, and their eldest son Baldwin IX. succeeded to both countships. Baldwin IX. is famous in history as the founder of the Latin empire at Constantinople. He perished in Bulgaria in 1206. The emperor's two daughters were both under age, and the government was carried on by their uncle Philip, marquess of Namur, whom Baldwin had appointed regent on his departure to Constantinople. Philip proved faithless to his charge, and he allowed his nieces to fall into the hands of Philip Augustus, who married the elder sister Johanna of Constantinople to his nephew Ferdinand of Portugal. The Flemings were averse to the French king's supremacy, and Ferdinand, who acted as governor in the name of his wife, joined himself to the confederacy formed by Germany, England, and the leading states of the Netherlands against Philip Augustus. Ferdinand was, however, taken prisoner at the disastrous battle of Bouvines (1214) and was kept for twelve years a prisoner in the Louvre. The countess Johanna ruled the united countships with prudence and courage. On Ferdinand's death she married Thomas of Savoy, but died in 1244, leaving no heirs. She was succeeded in her dignities by her younger sister Margaret of Constantinople, commonly known amongst her contemporaries as "Black Meg" (Zwarte Griet). Margaret had been twice married. Her first husband was (1212) Buchard of Avesnes, one of the first of Hainaut's nobles and a man of knightly prowess, but originally destined for the church..- On this ground he was excommunicated by Innocent III. and imprisoned by the countess Johanna, with the result that Margaret at last was driven to repudiate him. She married in second wedlock (1225) William of Dampierre. Two sons were the issue of the first marriage, three sons and three daughters of the second.

When Margaret in 1244 became countess of Flanders and Hainaut, she wished her son William of Dampierre to be acknowledged as her successor. John of Avesnes, her eldest son, strongly protested against this and was supported by the French king, A civil war ensued, which ended in a compromise (1246), the succession to Flanders being granted to William of Dampierre, that of Hainaut to John of Avesnes. Margaret, however, ruled with a strong hand for many years and survived both her sons, dying at the age of eighty in 1280. On her death her grandson, John II. of Avesnes, became count of Hainaut: Guy of Dampierre, her second son by her second marriage, count of Flanders.

The two counties were once more under separate dynasties. The government of Guy of Dampierre was unfortunate. It was the interest of the Flemish weavers to be on good terms with England, the wool-producing country, and Guy entered into an alliance with Edward I. against France. This led to an invasion and conquest of Flanders by Philip the Fair. Guy with his sons and the leading Flemish nobles were taken prisoners to Paris, and Flanders was ruled as a French dependency. But though in the principal towns, Ghent, Bruges and Ypres, there was a powerful French faction - known as Leliaerts (adherents of the lily) - the arbitrary rule of the French governor and officials stirred up the mass of the Flemish people to rebellion. The anti-French partisans (known as Clauwaerts) were strongest at Bruges under the leadership of Peter de Conync, master of the cloth-weavers, and John Breydel, master of the butchers. The French garrison at Bruges were massacred (May 19th, 1302), and on the following 11th of July a splendid French army of invasion was utterly defeated near Courtray. Peace was concluded in 1305, but owing to Guy of Dampierre, and the leading Flemish nobles being in the hands of the French king, on terms very disadvantageous to Flanders. Very shortly afterwards the aged count Guy died, as did also Philip the Fair. Robert of Bethune, his son and successor, had continual difficulties with France during the whole of his reign, the Flemings offering a stubborn resistance to all attempts to destroy their independence. Robert was succeeded in 1322 by his grandson Louis of Nevers. Louis had been brought up at the French court, and had married Margaret of France. His sympathies were entirely French, and he made use of French help in his contests with the communes.

Under Louis of Nevers Flanders was practically reduced to the status of a French province. In his time the long contest between Flanders and Holland for the possession of the island of Zeeland was brought to an end by a treaty signed on the 6th of March 1323, by which West Zeeland was assigned to the count of Holland, the rest to the count of Flanders. The latter part of the reign of Louis of Nevers was remarkable for the successful revolt of the Flemish communes, now rapidly advancing to great material prosperity under Jacob van Artevelde (see Artevelde, Jacob Van). Artevelde allied himself with Edward III. of England in his contest with Philip of Valois for the French crown, while Louis of Nevers espoused the cause of Philip. He fell at the battle of Crecy (1346). He was followed in the countship by his son Louis II. of Male. The reign of this count was one long struggle with the communes, headed by the town of Ghent, for political supremacy. Louis was as strong in his French sympathies as his father, and relied upon French help in enforcing his will upon his refractory subjects, who resented his arbitrary methods of government, and the heavy taxation imposed upon them by his extravagance and love of display. Had the great towns with their organized gilds and great wealth held together in their opposition to the count's despotism, they would have proved successful, but Ghent and Bruges, always keen rivals, broke out into open feud. The power of Ghent reached its height under Philip van Artevelde (see Artevelde, Philip Van) ill 1382. He defeated Louis, took Bruges and was made ruward of Flanders. But the triumph of the White Hoods, as the popular party was called, was of short duration. On the 27th of November 1382 Artevelde suffered a crushing defeat from a large French army at Roosebeke and was himself slain. Louis of Male died two years later, leaving an only daughter Margaret, who had married in 1369 Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy.

Flanders now became a portion of the great Burgundian domain, which in the reign of Philip the Good, Margaret's grandson, had absorbed almost the whole of the Netherlands (see Burgundy; Netherlands). The history of Flanders as a separate state ceases from the time of the acquisition of the countship by the Burgundian dynasty. There were revolts from time to time of great towns against the exactions even of these powerful princes, but they were in vain. The conquest and humiliation of Bruges by Philip the Good in 1 44 0, and the even more relentless punishment inflicted on rebellious Ghent by the emperor Charles V. exactly a century later are the most remarkable incidents in the long-continued but vain struggle of the Flemish communes to maintain and assert their privileges. The Burgundian dukes and their successors of the house of Habsburg were fully alive to the value to them of Flanders and its rich commercial cities. It was Flanders that furnished to them no small part of their resources, but for this very reason, while fostering the development of Flemish industry and trade, they were the more determined to brook no opposition which sought to place restrictions upon their authority.

The effect of the revolt of the Netherlands and the War of Dutch Independence which followed was ruinous to Flanders. Albert and Isabel on their accession to the sovereignty of the southern Netherlands in 1599 found "the great cities of Flanders and Brabant had been abandoned by a large part of their inhabitants; agriculture hardly in a less degree than commerce and industry had been ruined." In 1633 with the death of Isabel, Flanders reverted to Spanish rule (1633). By the treaty of Munster the north-western portion of Flanders, since known as States (or Dutch) Flanders, was ceded by Philip IV. to the United Provinces (1648). By a succession of later treaties - of the Pyrenees (1659), Aix-la-Chapelle (1668), Nijmwegen (1679) and others - a large slice of the southern portion of the old county of Flanders became French territory and was known as French Flanders.

From 1795 to 1814 Flanders, with the rest of the Belgic provinces, was incorporated in France, and was divided into two departments - departement de l'Escaut and departesnent de la Lys. This division has since been retained, and is represented by the two provinces of East Flanders and West Flanders in the modern kingdom of Belgium. The title of count of Flanders was revived by Leopold I. in 1840 in favour of his second son, Philip Eugene Ferdinand (d. 1905). (G. E.)


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Proper noun

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Singular
Flanders

Plural
-

Flanders

  1. A subnational state in the north of federal Belgium, the institutional merger of a territorial region and the Dutch language 'community' which also has/shares some authority in the capital region Brussels.
  2. The historical Countship of Flanders, of varying extent.
    • 1613Shakespeare, Hen VIII iii 2
      When you went / Ambassador to the Emperor, you made bold / To carry into Flanders the great seal.
  3. Two provinces in Belgian Flanders: (West-Flanders and East-Flanders).
  4. Short for French Flanders, a former province of the French kingdom on territory taken from the above countship, now constituting the French department Nord.
  5. The principal railway station in Lille, capital of the above.

Related terms

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See also

Anagrams


Genealogy

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

Vlaanderen
File:Flag of Flanders.svg [[Image:{{{image_coat}}}|110px|Coat of Arms of Flanders]]
(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
Motto: {{{national_motto}}}
Anthem: De Vlaamse Leeuw
(The Flemish Lion)
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Capital Brussels
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Largest city {{{largest_city}}}
Official languages Dutch (Brussels: Dutch and French)
Government
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Parliamentary Democracy
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Area
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{{{area}}} km² (162)
Population
 • [[As of |]] est.
 • [[As of 2007 [1]|2007 [1]]] census
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Fl. Region: 6,117,440 </br> Fl. Community: +/- 6.250.000
{{{population_density}}}/km² (23 / 20)
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Currency {{{currency}}} ({{{currency_code}}})
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Flanders (Template:Lang-nl, French: Flandre) is a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Over the course of history, the geographical territory that was called "Flanders" has varied.

In contemporary Belgium, Flanders might be understood as the 'country of the Flemings' (as 'Ireland' is the country of the Irish). This covers both the Flemish Region as the Brussels Capital Region, where the latter is shared with the French-speakers.

Since a few decades, with the legal establishment of the Flemish Community (Template:Lang-nl) , the Flemings have their own political institutions. The parliament and government are the governing institutions of the Community.

There is also a geographical, political, and administrative entity called the Flemish Region (Template:Lang-nl) but the region has ceded all its competencies to the Flemish Community. Since, the institutions of the Community govern both the Community and the Region. The capital city of Flanders is Brussels.

West Flanders and East Flanders are two of the five provinces of this Flemish Region.

Nowadays, French Flanders may designate part of the Nord ("North") department or the larger Nord-Pas de Calais region in which Nord is located.

Zeelandic Flanders, in Dutch Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, refers to a part of the Netherlands located in Zeeland.

In addition to these geographical or political uses, the noun 'Flanders' and the adjective 'Flemish' may also be used to describe several other distinct (but inter-connected) cultural, geographical, historical, linguistic or political items or entities.

Contents

The term "Flanders"

In Belgium

The term "Flanders" has several main meanings:

  • the social, cultural and linguistic, scientific and educational, economical and political community of the Flemings; generally called the "Flemish community" (small "c") (others refer to this as the "Flemish nation"). It has over 6 million inhabitants, or about 60%of the population of Belgium.
  • the constituent governing institution of the federal Belgian state through the institutions named the Flemish Community (capital "C"), exercising the powers in most of those domains for the aforementioned community, and the officially Dutch-speaking Flemish Region which has powers mainly on economical matters. The Community absorbed the Region, leading to a single operative body: the Flemish government and a single legislative organ: the Flemish parliament;
  • the geographical region in the north of Belgium coinciding with the federal Belgian state's Flemish Region but excluding the bilingual Capital Region;
  • the geographical area comprising the two westernmost provinces of the Flemish Region, West Flanders and East Flanders, parts of a former county named Flanders.

In France

Main articles: French Flanders and Nord (department)

In the Netherlands

Main article: Zeelandic Flanders

Evolution of the term

Vlaanderen literally means flooded land or lowland. The name appeared first around the 8th century. The precise geographical area denominated by "Flanders" has evolved a great deal over the centuries.

In the Middle Ages, the term Flanders was applied to an area in western Europe, the County of Flanders, spread over:

  • Belgium:
    • the area that is now approximately the Flemish provinces of East Flanders and West Flanders
    • the French-speaking area to the west of the Scheldt river, called Tournaisis (from the town of Tournai in the province of Hainaut)
  • France (French Flanders):
    • in the French language: La Flandre Lilloise comprising the arrondissements of Lille and Douai, in the north of France, to which country it was ceded in the 14th century. Because the French was spoken there, the area was also called la Flandre romane (Romance Flanders) or la Flandre gallicante (Gallic Flanders), or incorrectly Flandre-wallonne (Walloon Flanders) though its language was not Walloon but Picard. The city of Lille manifests itself as "Flemish", for instance by the large TGV station Lille-Flandres.
    • the originally Dutch-speaking remainder of what is now the département Nord (Nord-Pas de Calais), called Westhoek or Maritime Flanders, ceded to France in the 17th and early 18th century, during most of which latter century the area was the province of Flanders and that of Artois.
  • The Netherlands:
    • a part of what is now Zeeland in south-western Netherlands, called Zeelandic Flanders (Zeeuws-Vlaanderen)

The significance of the County and its counts eroded through time, but the designation remained in a very broad sense. In the Early Modern, the term Flanders was associated with the southern part of the Low Countries, the Southern Netherlands. During the 19th and 20th centuries, it became increasingly commonplace to refer to the area from De Panne to Maasmechelen, including the Belgian parts of the Duchy of Brabant and Limburg, as "Flanders".

The ambiguity between this eastwardly much wider area and that of the Countship (or the Belgian parts thereof), still remains. In most present-day contexts however, the term Flanders is generally taken to refer to either the political, social, cultural and linguistic community (and the corresponding official institution, the Flemish Community), or the geographical area, one of the three institutional regions in Belgium, namely the Flemish Region.

In history of art, the adjectives Flemish, Dutch and Netherlandish are commonly used to designate all the artistic production in this area. For examples, Flemish Primitives is synonym for early Netherlandish painting, Franco-Flemish School for Dutch School, and it is not uncommon to see Mosan art categorized as Flemish art.

History

Early history

Main article: Origins of the Belgae

The area roughly encompassing the later geographical meanings of Flanders, had been inhabited by Celts until Germanic people began immigrating by crossing the Rhine, either gradually driving them south- or westwards, or rather merging with them. By the first century BC Germanic languages had become prevalent, and the inhabitants were called Belgæ while the area was the coastal district of Gallia Belgica, the most northeastern province of the Roman Empire at its height. The boundaries were the Marne and Seine in the West, with Brittany, and the Rhine in the East, with Frisia. This changed upon the Count of Rouen's settlement with the King of France, which made a cession of western Flanders and eastern Brittany to the Normans.

Historical Flanders: County of Flanders

Main article: County of Flanders

Created in the year 862 as a feudal fief in West Francia, the County of Flanders was divided when its western districts fell under French rule in the late 12th century. The remaining parts of Flanders came under the rule of the counts of neighbouring Hainaut in 1191. The entire area passed in 1384 to the dukes of Burgundy, in 1477 to the Habsburg dynasty, and in 1556 to the kings of Spain. The western districts of Flanders came finally under French rule under successive treaties of 1659 (Artois), 1668, and 1678.

During the late Middle Ages Flanders' trading towns (notably Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres) made it one of the richest and most urbanised parts of Europe, weaving the wool of neighbouring lands into cloth for both domestic use and export. As a consequence, a very sophisticated culture developed, with impressive achievements in the arts and architecture, rivalling those of Northern Italy.

Increasingly powerful from the 12th century, the territory's autonomous urban communes were instrumental in defeating a French attempt at annexation (1300–1302), finally defeating the French in the Battle of the Golden Spurs (July 11, 1302), near Kortrijk. Two years later, the uprising was defeated and Flanders remained part of the French Crown. Flemish prosperity waned in the following century, however, owing to widespread European population decline following the Black Death of 1348, the disruption of trade during the Anglo-French Hundred Years' War (1338–1453), and increased English cloth production. Flemish weavers had gone over to Worstead and North Walsham in Norfolk in the 12th century and established the woollen industry.

Flanders in the Low Countries

The Reformation

Martin Luther's 95 Theses, published in 1517, had a profound effect on the Low Countries. Among the wealthy traders of Antwerp, the Lutheran beliefs of the German Hanseatic traders found appeal, perhaps partly for economic reasons in Dutch. The spread of Protestantism in this city was aided by the presence of an Augustinian cloister (founded 1514) in the St. Andries quarter. Luther, an Augustinian himself, had taught some of the monks, and his works were in print by 1518. Charles V ordered the closing of this cloister around 1525. The first Lutheran martyrs came from Antwerp. The Reformation resulted in consecutive but overlapping waves of reform: a Lutheran, followed by a militant Anabaptist, then a Mennonite, and finally a Calvinistic movement. These movements existed independently of each other.

The Pragmatic Sanction of 1549, issued by Charles V, established the Low Countries as the Seventeen Provinces (or Spanish Netherlands in its broad sense) as an entity separate from the Holy Roman Empire and from France. The schism between the southern Roman Catholics and northern Calvinists resulted in the Union of Atrecht and the Union of Utrecht, respectively.

Suppression of dissent

One hallmark of the Reformation was the belief that excessive commemoration of the saints and their images had become idolatry. Efforts to end it led to the iconoclasm of 1566 (the Beeldenstorm) – the demolition of statues and paintings depicting saints. This was associated with the ensuing religious war between Catholics and Protestants, especially the Anabaptists. The Beeldenstorm started in what is now the arrondissement of Dunkirk in French Flanders, with open-air sermons (hagepreken) in Dutch. The first took place on the Cloostervelt near Hondschoote. The first large sermon was held near Boeschepe on July 12, 1562. These open-air sermons, mostly of Anabaptist or Mennonite signature, spread through the country. On August 10, 1566 at the end of the pilgrimage from Hondschoote to Steenvoorde, the chapel of the Sint-Laurensklooster (Cloister of Saint Lawrence) was defaced by Protestants. The iconoclasm resulted not only in the destruction of Catholic art, but also cost the lives of many priests. It next spread to Antwerp, and on August 22, to Ghent. One cathedral, eight churches, twenty-five cloisters, ten hospitals and seven chapels were attacked. From there, it further spread east and north, but in total lasted not even a month.

Charles' son, King Philip II of Spain, a devout Catholic and self-proclaimed protector of the Counter-Reformation who was also the duke, count or lord of each of the Seventeen Provinces, suppressed Calvinism in Flanders, Brabant and Holland. What is now approximately Belgian Limburg was part of the Bishopric of Liège and was Catholic de facto. Part of what is now Dutch Limburg supported the Union of Atrecht, but did not sign it.

The Eighty Years' War and its consequences

In 1568 the Seventeen Provinces that signed the Union of Utrecht started a revolt against Philip II: the Eighty Years' War. Spanish troops quickly started fighting the rebels, but before the revolt could be completely defeated, a war between England and Spain had broken out, forcing Philip's Spanish troops to halt their advance. Meanwhile, the Spanish armies had already conquered the important trading cities of Bruges and Ghent. Antwerp, which was then arguably the most important port in the world, also had to be conquered. On August 17, 1585, Antwerp fell. This ended the Eighty Years' War for the (from now on) Southern Netherlands. The United Provinces (the Netherlands proper) fought on until 1648 – the Peace of Westphalia.

While Spain was at war with England, the rebels from the north, strengthened by refugees from the south, started a campaign to reclaim areas lost to Philips II's Spanish troops. They managed to conquer a considerable part of Brabant (the later Noord-Brabant of the Netherlands), and the south bank of the Scheldt estuary (Zeeuws-Vlaanderen), before being stopped by Spanish troops. The front line at the end of this war stabilized and became the current border between present-day Belgium and the Netherlands. The Dutch (as they later became known) had managed to reclaim enough of Spanish-controlled Flanders to close off the river Scheldt, effectively cutting Antwerp off from its trade routes.

First the fall of Antwerp to the Spanish and later also the closing of the Scheldt were causes of a considerable emigration of Antverpians.[2] Many of the Calvinist merchants of Antwerp and also of other Flemish cities left Flanders and emigrated to the north. A large number of them settled in Amsterdam, which was at the time a smaller port, only of significance in the Baltic trade. In the following years Amsterdam was rapidly transformed into one of the world's most important ports. Because of the contribution of the Flemish exiles to this transformation, the exodus is sometimes described as "creating a new Antwerp".

Flanders and Brabant, due to these events, went into a period of relative decline from the time of the Thirty Years War.[3] In the Northern Netherlands however, the mass emigration from Flanders and Brabant became an important driving force behind the Dutch Golden Age.

1581–1795: The Southern Netherlands

File:Quad Flandria.jpg
1609 map of the county of Flanders

Although arts remained at a relatively impressive level for another century with Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), Flanders experienced a loss of its former economic and intellectual power under Spanish, Austrian, and French rule, with heavy taxation and rigid imperial political control compounding the effects of industrial stagnation and Spanish-Dutch and Franco-Austrian conflict.

1795–1815: French Revolution and Napoleonic France

In 1794 the French Republican Army started using Antwerp as the northernmost naval port of France,[3] which country officially annexed Flanders the following year as the départements of Lys, Escaut, Deux-Nèthes, Meuse-Inférieure and Dyle. Obligatory (French) army service for all men aged 16–25 was one of the main reasons for the people's uprising against the French in 1798, known as the Boerenkrijg (Peasants' War), with heaviest fights in the Campine area.

1815–1830: United Kingdom of the Netherlands

After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the 1815 Battle of Waterloo in Waterloo, Brabant, sovereignty over the Austrian Netherlands – Belgium minus the East Cantons and Luxembourg – was given by the Congress of Vienna (1815) to the United Netherlands (Dutch: Verenigde Nederlanden), the state that briefly existed under Sovereign Prince William I of Orange Nassau, the latter King William I of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, after the French Empire was driven out of the Dutch territories. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands was born. The Protestant King of the Netherlands, William I rapidly started the industrialisation of the southern parts of the Kingdom. The political system that was set up however, slowly but surely failed to forge a true union between the northern and the southern parts of the Kingdom. The southern bourgeoisie mainly was Roman Catholic, in contrast to the mainly Protestant north, large parts of the southern bourgeoisie also primarily spoke French rather than Dutch.

The in 1815 reinstated Dutch Senate (Dutch: Eerste Kamer der Staaten Generaal) the nobility, mainly coming from the south, became more and more estranged from their northern colleagues. Resentment grew both among the Roman Catholics from the south and the Protestants from the north and among the powerful liberal bourgeoisie from the south and their more moderate colleagues from the North. On August 25, 1830 (after the showing of the opera 'La Muette de Portici' of Daniel Auber in Brussels) the Belgian Revolution sparked off and became a fact. On October 4, 1830, the Provisional Authority (Dutch: Voorlopig Bewind) proclaimed the independence which was later confirmed by the National Congress that issued a new Liberal Constitution and declared the new state a Constitutional Monarchy, under the House of Saxe-Coburg. Flanders now became part of the Kingdom of Belgium, which was recognized by the major European Powers on January 20, 1831. The de facto dissidence was only finally recognized by the United Kingdom of the Netherlands on April 19, 1839.

Kingdom of Belgium

In 1830, the Belgian Revolution led to the splitting up of the two countries. Belgium was confirmed as an independent state by the Treaty of London of 1839, but deprived of the eastern half of Limburg (now Dutch Limburg), and the Eastern half of Luxembourg (now the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg) . Sovereignty over Zeeuws Vlaanderen, south of the Westerscheldt river delta, was left with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which was allowed to levy a toll on all traffic to Antwerp harbour until 1863.[3]

Rise of the Flemish Movement

Main article: Flemish movement

World War I and its consequences

Flanders (and Belgium as a whole) saw some of the greatest loss of life on the Western Front of the First World War, in particular from the three battles of Ypres. Due to the hundreds of thousands of casualties at Ypres, the poppies that sprang up from the battlefield afterwards, later immortalised in the Canadian poem "In Flanders Fields", written by John McCrae, have become a symbol for lives lost in war.

Flemish feeling of identity and consciousness grew through the events and experiences of war. The German occupying authorities had taken several Flemish-friendly measures. More importantly, the experiences of many Dutch-speaking soldiers on the front led by French speaking officers catalysed Flemish emancipation. The French speaking officers barked the orders in French, followed by "et pour les Flamands, la même chose", which basically meant, "Same thing for the Flemish", which obviously did not help the Flemish conscripts, who were mostly uneducated farmers and workers, who didn't speak French at all. The resulting suffering is still remembered by Flemish organizations during the yearly Yser pilgrimage in Diksmuide at the monument of the Yser Tower.

Right-Wing Nationalism in the interbellum and World War II

Main articles: VNV, Verdinaso, Dietsland, and Cyriel Verschaeve

Communautary quibbles and the Egmont pact

Main articles: Egmont pact, Voeren, and Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde

Recent events

Fake revolution

On 13 December 2006, a spoof news broadcast by the Belgian Francophone public broadcasting station RTBF declared that the Flemish part of Belgium had decided to declare independence from Belgium, and that the King and Queen of Belgium had left immediately on a plane. Images were shown of people celebrating and waving flags in the background. Within minutes of the beginning of the broadcast, the news station was flooded with calls from concerned French speakers. It was only a half hour after the beginning of the broadcast that the disclaimer "This is fiction" was displayed. It was revealed that the programme had been broadcast to stimulate discussion of this subject[4].

Belgian federal elections

The 2007 elections showed an extraordinary outcome in terms of support for Flemish autonomy. All the political parties that advocated a significant increase of Flemish autonomy increased their share of the votes and seats in the Belgian parliament. This was especially the case for CD&V and N-VA (forming a cartel). In addition, the very assertive Lijst Dedecker gained a spectacular entry in parliament. It got even slightly ahead of the greens (Groen!). The outright secessionist Vlaams Belang remained strong, but stalled. The main parties advocating more or less the current Belgian institutions and only modest increases in Flemish autonomy severely lost (Groen!, OpenVLD, and especially SP.A).

These victories for the advocates of much more Flemish autonomy are very much in parallel with opinion polls that show a structural increase in popular support for their agenda.

Several negotiators having come and gone since the last federal elections of 10 June 2007 without diminishing the disagreements between Flemish and Walloon politicians regarding a further State reform, continues to prevent the formation of the federal government.

Government and politics

Main article: Communities, regions and language areas of Belgium

Both the Flemish Community and the Flemish Region are constitutional institutions of the Kingdom of Belgium with precise geographical boundaries. In practice, the Flemish Community and Region together form a single body, with its own parliament and government, as the Community legally absorbed the competences of the Region.

The area of the Flemish Community is represented on the maps above, including the area of the Brussels-Capital Region (hatched on the relevant map). Roughly, the Flemish Community exercises competences originally oriented towards the individuals of the Community's language: culture (including audiovisual media), education, and the use of the language. Extensions to personal matters less directly associated with language comprise sports, health policy (curative and preventive medicine), and assistance to individuals (protection of youth, social welfare, aid to families, immigrant assistance services, etc.).[5]

The area of the Flemish Region is represented on the maps above. It has a population of around 6 million (excluding the Dutch-speaking community in the Brussels Region, grey on the map for it is not a part of the Flemish Region). Roughly, the Flemish Region is responsible for territorial issues in a broad sense, including economy, employment, agriculture, water policy, housing, public works, energy, transport, the environment, town and country planning, nature conservation, credit, and foreign trade. It supervises the provinces, municipalities, and intercommunal utility companies.[6]

The number of Dutch-speaking Flemish people in the Capital Region is estimated to be between 11% and 15% (official figures do not exist as there is no language census and no official subnationality). According to a survey conducted by the Université Catholique de Louvain in Louvain-La-Neuve and published in June 2006, 51% of respondents from Brussels claimed to be bilingual, even if they do not have Dutch as their first language.[7][8] They are governed by the Brussels Region for economics affairs and by the Flemish Community for educational and cultural issues.

As of 2005, Flemish institutions such as Flanders' government, parliament, etc. represent the Flemish Community and the Flemish region. The region and the community thus de facto share the same parliament and the same government. All these institutions are based in Brussels. Nevertheless, both bodies (the Community and the Region) still exist and the distinction between both is important for the people living in Brussels. Members of the Flemish parliament who were elected in the Brussels Region cannot vote on affairs belonging to the competences of the Flemish Region.

The official language for all Flemish institutions is Dutch. French enjoys a limited official recognition in a dozen municipalities along the borders with French-speaking Wallonia, and a large recognition in the bilingual Brussels Region. French is widely known in Flanders, with 59% claiming to know French according to a survey conducted by the Université catholique de Louvain in Louvain-La-Neuve and published in June 2006.[9][10]

Politics

Many new political parties during the last half century were founded in Flanders: the nationalist Volksunie of which the right nationalist Vlaams Blok (Vlaams Belang) split off, and that later dissolved into SPIRIT, moderate nationalism rather left of the spectrum, and the NVA, more conservative moderate nationalism; the leftist alternative/ecological Groen!; the short-lived anarchistic libertarian spark ROSSEM and more recently the conservative-right liberal Lijst Dedecker, founded by Jean-Marie Dedecker.

Flemish nation

For many Flemings, Flanders is more than just a geographical area or the federal institutions (Flemish Community and Region). Some even call it a nation: a people of over 6 million living in the Flemish Region and in the Brussels-Capital Region. Flemings share many political, cultural, scientific, social and educational views. Although most Flemings identify themselves more with Flanders than with Belgium, the largest group defines itself as both Flemish and Belgian. The idea of an independent Flanders finds its root in the romantic nationalism of the 19th century.

Administrative divisions

Main article: Provinces of Belgium#Provinces of the Flemish Region
File:VlaanderenProvincies.png

The Flemish Region covers 13,522 km2 (5,221 sq mi) and contains over 300 municipalities. It is divided into 5 provinces:

  1. Antwerp (Antwerpen)
  2. Limburg (Limburg)
  3. East Flanders (Oost-Vlaanderen)
  4. Flemish Brabant (Vlaams-Brabant)
  5. West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen)

Independently from the provinces, Flanders has its own local institutions in the Brussels-Capital Region, being the Vlaamse GemeenschapsCommissie (VGC), and its municipal antennae (Gemeenschapscentra, community centers for the Flemish community in Brussels). These institutions are independent from the educational, cultural and social institutions which depend directly on the Flemish government. They exert, among others, all those cultural competences that outside Brussels fall under the provinces.

Geography and climate

Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Leuven are the largest cities of the Flemish Region. Antwerp has a population of more than 470,000 citizens and is the largest city, Ghent has a population of 240,000 citizens, followed by Bruges with 100,000 citizens and Leuven counts almost 100,000 citizens. Brussels is a part of Flanders as far as community matters are concerned, but does not belong to the Flemish Region.

Flanders has two main geographical regions: the coastal Yser basin plain in the north-west and a central plain. The first consists mainly of sand dunes and clayey alluvial soils in the polders. Polders are areas of land, close to or below sea level that have been reclaimed from the sea, from which they are protected by dikes or, a little further inland, by fields that have been drained with canals. With similar soils along the lowermost Scheldt basin starts the central plain, a smooth, slowly rising fertile area irrigated by many waterways that reaches an average height of about five metres (16.4 ft) above sea level with wide valleys of its rivers upstream as well as the Campine region to the east having sandy soils at altitudes around thirty metres[11] Near its southern edges close to Wallonia one can find slightly rougher land richer of calcium with low hills reaching up to 150 m (492 ft) and small valleys, and at the eastern border with the Netherlands, in the Meuse basin, there are marl caves (mergelgrotten). Its exclave around Voeren between the Dutch border and the Walloon province of Liège attains a maximum altitude of 288 m (945 ft) above sea level.[12][13]

The climate is maritime temperate, with significant precipitation in all seasons (Köppen climate classification: Cfb; the average temperature is 3 °C (37 °F) in January, and 18 °C (64 °F) in July; the average precipitation is 65 millimetres (2.6 in) in January, and 78 millimetres (3.1 in) in July).

Economy

Total GDP of the Flemish Region in 2004 was € 165,847 million (Eurostat figures). Per capita GDP at purchasing power parity was 23% above the EU average.

Flanders was one of the first continental European areas to undergo the Industrial Revolution, in the 19th century. Initially, the modernization relied heavily on food processing and textile. However, by the 1840s the textile industry of Flanders was in severe crisis and there was famine in Flanders (1846–50). After World War II, Antwerp and Ghent experienced a fast expansion of the chemical and petroleum industries. Flanders also attracted a large majority of foreign investments in Belgium, among others thanks to its well-educated and industrious labour force. The 1973 and 1979 oil crises sent the economy into a recession. The steel industry remained in relatively good shape. In the 1980s and 90s, the economic centre of the Belgium continued to shift further to Flanders. Nowadays, the Flemish economy is mainly service-oriented, although its diverse industry remains a crucial force. Flemish productivity per capita is between 20 and 25% higher than that in Wallonia.

Flanders has developed an excellent transportation infrastructure of ports, canals, railways and highways. Antwerp is the second-largest European port, after Rotterdam.

In 1999, the euro, the single European currency, was introduced in Flanders. It replaced the Belgian franc in 2002. The Flemish economy is strongly export oriented, in particular of high value-added goods. The main imports are food products, machinery, rough diamonds, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, clothing and accessories, and textiles. The main exports are automobiles, food and food products, iron and steel, finished diamonds, textiles, plastics, petroleum products, and nonferrous metals. Since 1922, Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market within a customs and currency union—the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union. Its main trading partners are Germany, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, the United States and Spain.

Demographics

The highest population density is found in the area circumscribed by the Brussels-Antwerp-Ghent-Leuven agglomerations that surround Mechelen and is known as the Flemish Diamond, in other important urban centres as Bruges and Kortrijk to the west, and notable centres Turnhout and Hasselt to the east. As of April 2005, the Flemish Region has a population of 6,058,368 and about 15% of the 1,018,029 people in the Brussels Region are also considered Flemish.[14]

The (Belgian) laicist constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the various government generally respects this right in practice. Since independence, Catholicism, counterbalanced by strong freethought movements, has had an important role in Belgium's politics, since the 20th century in Flanders mainly via the Christian trade union (ACV) and the Christian Democrat party (CD&V). According to the 2001 Survey and Study of Religion,[15] about 47 percent of the Belgian population identify themselves as belonging to the Catholic Church while Islam is the second-largest religion at 3.5 percent. A 2006 inquiry in Flanders, considered more religious than Wallonia, showed 55% to call themselves religious, 36% believe that God created the world.[16] (See also Religion in Belgium).

According to Npdata, 9.7% of the Flemish population is of foreign descent. 4.5% European (including 1.8% Dutch, 0.6% Italian and 0.4% French), and 5.1% from outside the European union, (including 1.8% Moroccan and 1.5% Turks).

Education is compulsory from the ages of six to 18, but most Flemings continue to study until around 23. Among the OECD countries in 1999, Flanders had the third-highest proportion of 18–21-year-olds enrolled in postsecondary education. Flanders also scores very high in international comparative studies on education. Its secondary school students consistently rank among the top three for mathematics and science. However, the success is not evenly spread: ethnic minority youth score consistently lower, and the difference is larger than in most comparable countries.

Mirroring the historical political conflicts between the freethought and Catholic segments of the population, the Flemish educational system is split into a laïque branch controlled by the communities, the provinces, or the municipalities, and a subsidised religious—mostly Catholic—branch controlled by both the communities and the religious authorities—usually the dioceses. It should however be noted that—at least for the Catholic schools—the religious authorities have very limited power over these schools. Smaller school systems follow 'methodical pedagogies' (Steiner, Montessori, Freinet, ...) or serve the Jewish and Protestant minorities.

Language and culture

Main articles: Dutch language, Flemish people, and Flemish Movement

The standard language in Flanders is Dutch; a single authority, the Nederlandse Taalunie, comprising appointees of the Belgian and Netherlands governments, sets standards for spelling and grammar. The term Flemish can be applied to the Dutch spoken in Flanders; it shows many regional and local variants.

At first sight, Flemish culture is defined by its language and its gourmandic mentality, as compared to the more calvinistic Dutch culture. Some claim Flemish literature does not exist, because it is 'readable' by both Dutch and Flemings. This is correct for the vast majority of the literature written by Flemings, although one might argue a distinct Flemish literature already began in the 19th century, when most of the European Nation-states arose, with writers and poets such as Guido Gezelle, who not only explicitly referred to his writings as Flemish, but actually used it in many of his poems, and strongly defended it:



Original
"Gij zegt dat ‘t vlaamsch te niet zal gaan:
‘t en zal!
dat ‘t waalsch gezwets zal boven slaan:
‘t en zal!
Dat hopen, dat begeren wij:
dat zeggen en dat zweren wij:
zoo lange als wij ons weren, wij:
‘t en zal, ‘t en zal,
‘t en zal!"

Translation
"You say Flemish will disappear:
It will not!
that Walloonish rantings will prevail:
It will not!
This we hope, this we crave:
this we say and this we swear:
as long as we defend ourselves, we:
It will not, It will not,
It will not!"


This distinction in literature is also made by some experts such as Kris Humbeeck, professor of Literature at the University of Antwerp [1]. Nevertheless, the near totality of Dutch-language literature read (and appreciated to varying degrees) in Flanders is the same as in the Netherlands.

Influential Flemish writers include Ernest Claes, Stijn Streuvels and Felix Timmermans; their novels mostly describe rural life in Flanders in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. They were widely read by the elder generation but are considered somewhat old-fashioned by present day critics. Some famous Flemish writers from the early 20th century wrote in French, like Nobel Prize winners (1911) Maurice Maeterlinck and Emile Verhaeren. Still widely read and translated into other languages (including English) are the novels of authors like Willem Elsschot, Louis Paul Boon and Hugo Claus. The younger generation is represented by novelists like Tom Lanoye, Herman Brusselmans and the poet Herman de Coninck.

"Fleming" as a surname

The surname "Fleming" or "Flemming" is common in England, Scotland, Ireland, and other English-speaking countries, and also occurs in Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. The wide distribution of the name indicates a long-standing Flemish diaspora.

See also

References

  1. ^ Structuur van de bevolking – België / Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest / Vlaams Gewest / Waals Gewest (2000-2006) (Dutch) (asp). FOD/SPF Economie (Federal Government Service Economy) - Algemene Directie Statistiek en Economische Informatie (© 1998/2007). Retrieved on 15 May, 2007.
  2. ^ Footnote: An Antverpian, derived from Antverpia, the Latin name of Antwerp, is an inhabitant of this city; the term is also the adjective expressing that its substantive is from or in that city or belongs to it.
  3. ^ a b c Antwerp — History. Find it in Flanders. Tourism Flanders & Brussels, Flanders House, London, UK. Retrieved on 2007-01-02.
  4. ^ http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Fictional_documentary_about_Flemish_independence_causes_consternation_in_Belgium
  5. ^ The Communities. .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. Retrieved on 2007-05-23.
  6. ^ The Regions. .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. Retrieved on 2007-05-23.
  7. ^ (French) Report of study by the Université Catholique de Louvain
  8. ^ Template:Nl icon Article at Taaluniversum.org summarising report
  9. ^ *http://regards.ires.ucl.ac.be/Archives/RE042.pdf Report of study by Universite Catholique de Louvain (in French)]
  10. ^ *Article at Taaluniversum.org summarising report (in Dutch)
  11. ^ The altitude of Mechelen, approximately in the middle of the central plain forming the large part of Flanders, is 7 m (23 ft) above sea level. Already closer to the higher southern Wallonia, the more eastern Leuven and Hasselt reach altitudes up to about 40 m (131 ft) Kingdom of Belgium map (politically outdated). Retrieved on 15 May, 2007.
  12. ^ Ir. Jan Strubbe in collaboration with Dr. Frank Mostaert and Ir. Koen Maeghe. Flood management in Flanders with special focus on navigable waterways. Ministry of the Flemish Community, department Environment and Infrastructure (Waterbouwkundig Laboratorium, Flanders Hydraulics Research, Administratie Waterwegen en Zeewezen). “Flanders is covered by the three major catchment basins (Yser, Scheldt and Meuse). This rather lowlying nearly flat region (2 to 150 m/6–492 ft altitude above sea-level) ...”
  13. ^ Myriam Dumortier, Luc De Bruyn, Maarten Hens, Johan Peymen, Anik Schneiders, Toon Van Daele, Wouter Van Reeth, Gisèle Weyembergh and Eckhart Kuijken (2006). Biodiversity Indicators 2006 - State of Nature in Flanders (Belgium). Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Brussels. “The altitude ranges from a few meters above sea-level in the Polders to 288 m (945 ft) above sea-level in the south eastern exclave.”
  14. ^ Official statistics of Belgium
  15. ^ Belgium. International Religious Freedom Report 2004. US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2004). Retrieved on 2007-05-28.
  16. ^ Inquiry by 'Vepec', 'Vereniging voor Promotie en Communicatie' (Organisation for Promotion and Communication), published in Knack magazine 22 November 2006 p. 14 [The Dutch language term 'gelovig' is in the text translated as 'religious', more precisely it is a very common word for believing in particular in any kind of God in a monotheistic sense, and/or in some afterlife.

External links

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Flanders. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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