Belgium - national flag
The flag dates from the year of the revolution 1789, when it was flown with
horizontal stripes. After Belgium became independent in 1830, officially from
1831, the stripes were placed vertically similar to the French Tricolore. During
the preceding battles against the Dutch, the flag had the almost square shape
which has been retained ever since. Black, yellow and red are the coat of arms
of the central province of Brabant, but they also appear in the arms of several
other Belgian provinces.
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Belgium - prehistory
The oldest finds from the area belong to the older Paleolithic acheulée
culture. At Spy near Namur in southern Belgium, two adult graves and a
children's grave with skeletons of Neanderthal people dating to the later
Moustéri culture have been found in a cave. From the Neolithic can be
highlighted a place with flint mines at Spiennes near Mons in the southwest. The
shafts reach a depth of 16 meters. There is also a large Sarup facility
(Sarup), where ritual closures of human skulls have been found. At Clemency
near the border with Luxembourg, the largest known Gallic chamber tomb has been
excavated with a very rich equipment, Roman wine amphorae. The tomb is
dated to 80-60 BC. and is associated with the Celtic people of the Treverians.
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the world, such as BEL which represents the official name of Belgium.
Belgium - history
I 57 BC. Julius Caesar conquered the present Belgian territory, which was
then inhabited by Celtic peoples (Belgians). The area became a Roman province
under the name Gallia Belgica, and Latin language and culture gradually became
dominant. From the middle of 300-teKr. Germanic tribes, Franks, penetrated into
the province. This created the language border that still runs from east to west
through Belgium. North of the line, the Germanic languages, which later became
Dutch, prevailed, while Latin, which later became French, retained its position
to the south. In the following centuries, the area became Christian and became
the geographical and cultural center of the Frankish Empire under Charlemagne,
who ruled 768-814.
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Belgium - regions and reforms
In the aftermath of the oil crisis in 1973, the Belgian governments faced
problems in the form of low growth rates, high unemployment and rising budget
deficits. At the same time, in the years after 1970, Belgium became increasingly
regionalized. In order to adopt the necessary constitutional reforms were
changing coalition governments have 2/3 majority, which
along with party divisions had hampered regeringsdannelserne. In 1993, with a
radical constitutional amendment, Belgium was transformed into a federal state,
so that the capital region of Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels each gained
The 1990's were difficult years in Belgian politics, partly due to large
government debt and partly due to a series of political scandals. The partially
unsolved assassination of the Socialist leader André Cools (1927-91) in 1991 led
to the revelation of bribery on a larger scale by the Socialist parties from
foreign arms suppliers. It cost several leading socialists their careers, such
as Willy Claes, who had just been appointed Secretary General of NATO. The
authorities' reprehensible behavior during the investigation of extensive crime
in connection with pedophilia triggered widespread mistrust, which in 1996 found
expression in a number of "white marches".
In the 1999 election, the Flemish Christian Social Party led by Jean-Luc
Dehaene lost and had to go into opposition for the first time in 41
years. Instead, a so-called rainbow coalition consisting of liberals, socialists
and environmental parties came with the Flemish liberal Guy Verhofstadt as prime
minister. The Greens were for the first time part of a federal Belgian
government, which sat until the 2003 election. Here the Socialists advanced
again, while the Greens lost and had to leave the government. Guy Verhofstadt
continued as Prime Minister of a government of Liberals and Socialists. He held
this post until 2008, when he was replaced by Yves Leterme, who became the
leader of a coalition government. A few months later, however, Leterme submitted
his resignation as a result of his inability to unite the French- and
Flemish-speaking regions. He was succeeded by Herman Van Rompuy, however, who
only sat until 2009, when he became the EU's first president. Leterme returned,
but in 2010 resubmitted his resignation. Belgium then ended up in a protracted
government crisis, as it was not possible to form a government due to the deep
contradictions between the French-speaking and Flemish-speaking groups. Only
after 18 months did the French-speaking socialist Elio di Rupo (b. 1951) succeed
in forming a government in December 2011. Following the parliamentary elections
in May 2014, di Rupo submitted his resignation and Belgium was again left
without a government. Only five months later did it succeed in forming a new
government consisting of three Flemish and one French-speaking party; Charles
Michel (b. 1975) is the new Prime Minister.
Belgium - literature
Belgian literature is sharply divided into Flemish and French-language
literature, which is strongly influenced by resp. Dutch and French literature.
In the Middle Ages, the southern parts of the Dutch language area were the
cultural leaders. In Limburg occurred in the late 1100-t. a folklore literature
with Heinric van Veldeke (memorial song, courtly epic). In the county of
Flanders and the Duchy of Brabrant developed in the 1200's and 1300's. through
contact with French culture a rich literature with Celtic and Carolingian
legends as a basis. European format was given Flemish writing art with the
animal epic, the fox book Van den vos Reynaerde, a satire on the
estate society that has retained its freshness.
With Jan van der Noot (b. approximately 1539) in the second half of the 1500-t. early
literature was on a par with the form and content of the European
Renaissance. He was one of the first Dutchmen to adapt the sonnet to his own
language. But when the revolt against Spain in 1585 failed in the case of the
southern provinces, it was over with the Flemish literature. Many artists fled
to the free, northern provinces, and the literary language now became
exclusively French. However, Brussels had a living Flemish-language theater.
A Flemish-language literature only re-emerged in connection with the national
revival after 1830. The historical novels of Hendrik Consciences (1812-83)
gained great influence. Although 1900-t. is influenced by various European
currents, the literary goal is constantly modified by the efforts of
Flemishness. Much therefore ends in an idyllic description of Flemish folk
life. Innovative figures are the lyricist Guido Gezelle and in the 1890's the
circle of the magazine Van Nu en Straks.
Around World War I, expressionism gained a prominent representative in Paul
van Ostaijen. The literary picture before and after World War II is
kaleidoscopic; the orientation is international. Through the contact with French
literature, the experimental novel and theater of the post-war period receives
stronger impulses than in the Netherlands, to which the literary connections
with the exception of a few very significant authors are limited. See
also Holland literature.
Belgium's French - language literature has always been squeezed in several
ways. The authors have to distinguish themselves from France, which unanimously
decides what is considered to be properly French and who likes to talk about
"the Belgian fog". They must stand out in relation to Flemish language and
culture, which is easiest for the Walloons, but problematic for those who grew
up in French-speaking families in Flanders. The authors generally feel that
language does not cover either social or historical reality; they are homeless
both in their homeland and in their mother tongue.
Across the story, the French-speaking Belgian writers can be divided into
three categories, each denoting a special relationship to the language. For
some, it is a conventional, academic writing style; sometimes over-correct,
sometimes of classical beauty (Francis Walder, Henry Bauchau). For others, it
becomes a liberating unorthodox linguistic party firework (Norway, Jean-Pierre
Verheggen). In still others, the feeling of abandonment results in a search
inward into the depths of the soul, to which the tool is a linguistic thinning
that is approaching dissolution. Often the fleeting language is anchored in a
The significant Belgian drama is an expression of this (Fernand
Crommelynck, Michel de Ghelderode, René Kalisky). Many writers illustrate
their texts (Max Elskamp), invent genres in which words and graphics are
inextricably linked (Christian Dotremont), or become significant visual
artists (Henri Michaux). It is no coincidence that the comic got its European
form in Belgium.
Three major periods characterize French-language Belgian literature. The
first goes from independence in 1830 to the collapse of World War I and is
center-seeking and optimistic, what seen by slogans such as "Let us be us"
and "Belgian soul". The other, centrifugal and pessimistic, ends with the
decolonization of the Congo in 1960. It is marked by denial and emigration; the
signatories of the so-called Manifesto du lundi (1937) considered
themselves to be full-blooded French writers born in Belgium to the detriment of
fate. A third generation of writers, led by Pierre Mertens, took note of the
birthplace of the manifesto L'autre Belgique (1976) and became
acquainted with the concept of "belgitude".(1980, Belgium after all). Rather
than solving the aesthetic problem of the identity crisis, however, the movement
came to accentuate the tension between the more elitist writers in Brussels and
the Walloons who could be accused of regionalism.
Around the turn of the millennium, literary production is characterized in
particular by vitality and diversity. Representatives for the period
include Philippe Blasband, Sophie Buyse, Francis Dannemark, Paul Emond and
The literary schools in Belgium are often based on the corresponding French,
but are strongly divergent. In the 1830's, efforts were made to create a romantic
national literature with themes from the glorious past of the Belgian
Netherlands and contemporary industrial miracles (Théodore
Weustenraad). Interesting was André Van Hasselt's attempt to transfer Germanic
(Flemish) metrics to French verse theory.
The first major but long-misunderstood masterpiece of French-language Belgian
literature was Charles De Caster's historical novel epic La Légende
d'Ulenspiegel (1867, then Till Uglspil, 1944), which called for
understanding between the two language communities when Napoleon III had plans
to annex Belgium.
It was not until the 1880's, however, that Belgian literature really unfolded
to achieve international recognition with the l'art pour l'art lyricists around
the magazine La jeune Belgique and with a lesser-than-doctrinal naturalism
(Camille Lemonnier) and more lyrically descriptive than the French.
This was especially true of the symbolists, whose distinctive feature was to
unite the Flemish imaginary universe and French form of expression in a way that
made their youthful works stand out in particular: Maurice Maeterlinck (poetry,
theater), Charles Van Lerberghe (poetry), Georges Rodenbach (novels) and Émile
Verhaeren, who began as a symbolist and ended up as one of Europe's best-known
socially engaged expressionists.
It is the symbolists' search for a reality beyond the physically sensed,
which is found in interwar Brussels surrealism, whose key figures were René
Magritte and his friend Paul Nougé, who gave Magritte's paintings their
So far, it is the same quest that characterizes the crime novel (Georges
Simenon, Stanislas-André Steeman) and the fantastic narrative that has perhaps
more than anything else made Belgian literature known in our time. It ranges
from gentle magical realism (Franz Hellens) over the blackest horror (Jean Ray)
to science fiction (Marcel Thiry).