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Those wicked Belgians

From Dutch Daily NRC Handelsblad:

"King Leopold II of Belgium wanted to invade the Netherlands around 1854, when he was still only crown prince, according to documents discovered in the Royal Archives in Brussels by the Flemish historian and journalist Kris Clerckx. Napoleon III probably prevented the invasion".

The mind boggles. Apparently the Belgians fancied their chances, despite no great history of military prowess in the immedaitely preceding years. One might note that this would have been slap bang in the middle of the Crimean war, when we, our Gallic chums and sundry others were rather preoccupied with matters further east. Further Belgium only gained independence from the Dutch in 1830, having been variously under the Hapsburg and French yokes previously. Had this operation succeeded, doubtless the course of the wars of the 20th century would be very different, and Walloon domination of the Belgian polity would have been unsustainable.

I cannot immediately think of any situation in which a newly independent nation went on to conquer its former masters so soon after, although perhaps something will come to me later or a reader will set me on the right track.


The tale is also being featured in Francophone Belgian daily Le Soir, although it adds little to the Handelsblad report. Reader comments are rather amusing though:

"Think how many World Cups we would have won with their talent and our rigour"

"British propaganda. We know that Léopold II was influenced by British propaganda and so would seek to divert international public opinion from its own colonial exactions by attacking a small nation of Europe".

Isn't it nice to have all that gratitude for dying in our hundreds of thousands to save their Belgian hides?

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Blogger hatfield girl said... 1:50 pm

The Scottish Parliament reconvened on 12 May 1999 and the Scots have been running England ever since. Does that count?  

Anonymous Caro said... 10:44 pm

Minor wickedness by Leopold II's standards. A thoroughly vile man, he was responsible for sickening human rights violations and genocide in the Congo, laying down a legacy of brutality that has afflicted that country to the present day. He was also a paedophile, who purchased 100 young girls a year from a notorious London brothel.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 8:42 am

HG - Good point.

Caro - I knew- in outline - of Leopold's Congolese villainies, but not of his child molesting proclivities. Thank you for the detail.  

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