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A History of Belgium (presented by Echoes)
« on: May 11, 2016, 14:26 »
Belgium Has Deep Christian Roots

The distinctive feature of our nationality is undisputedly more than any other that we are a Catholic nationality. All its great men were the holders of the Catholic idea: Clovis I, Charles the Great, Godfrey of Bouillon, Charles V. It has always defended its Catholic faith against those who wished to take it away from it: against William of Orange, against Joseph II, against William I of the Netherlands
said historian Godefroid Kurth of Arlon (a speaker of Luxembourgish), in “La nationalité belge” by 1914.

By 408 the Franks, from around present-day Hasselt, liberated the territory from Roman rule. In 496 Clovis of the Merovingian dynasty got baptized in Reims, thereby creating the Kingdom of France. He was a Salian Frank of Tournai. Clovis’ baptism will be forever the symbol of the Christian notion of secularism, the Temporal Power represented by Clovis is distinct from the Spiritual Power which is represented by Bishop Remy. But though distinct they are, the Spiritual Power should always get the upper hand because only a good morality and decency can temper down the fight for and defence of personal or tribal interests. But after Clovis the Merovingians left Belgium behind and the Franks sparked a 2nd dynasty: the Carolingians with Pepin of Herstal (635-714), Charles Martel (~680-741), Pepin the Short (~714-768) and Charlemagne (~742-814). All were probably born around Liege and became “Mayors of the Palace” in France (sort of PM) until Charlemagne was crowned Emperor in 800 and converted most of Europe to Christianity.

A very important point about Charlemagne is that he allied with the Islamic Abbasid Caliph Haroon al-Rashid (the Caliph of the 1001 nights). There was an embassy exchange between Bagdad & Aachen. They both had common enemies: the Umayyad dynasty in Cordoba and Byzantium. Hence they set that rear alliance. Between Christianity and Islam, it hasn’t always been a “clash of civilizations”.

This balance between the Occident and the Orient was destroyed by the Seljuq Turks who gained prestige in the 11th century. They had the temporal power (Sultan) in the land of Islam while the Caliph had the Spiritual one. The Turkish sultans were more interested in military conquests than in spirituality and by 1078 they denied access to Jerusalem to Christian pilgrims. So the Turks became Christianity’s enemy but not Muslim Arabs. The French TV series “The Desert Crusader” (1968) conveys that idea pretty well. The Caliph Al-Mustazhir was sadly too weak to temper down the sultan. Godfrey of Bouillon was a leader in Crusade #1 in 1096, reached Jerusalem in 1099 and became the first ruler of its Kingdom refusing the title "King". The true King of Jerusalem is Christ. He took the more humble title of "Advocate of the Holy Sepulchre". Kurth (op.cit.) argued: “We are the people of the Crusade. It’s here that it took its leaders and and its main strengths.” Though it deteriorated into 7 other Crusades and many abuses, the Crusade was at first fully legit from a Christian viewpoint and the enemy was a temporal sultan, not Islam.

Flanders is deeply rooted in Christianity. First we have the famous beguinages: small gathering of housing or convents lodging semi-monastic clerical or secular woman communities (Beguines) who sought to serve God AND the people. The Flemish beguinages are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You have some in Bruges, Ghent, Leuven, Mechelen, Antwerp, Kortrijk, etc. Some still exist in Wallonia (Liege), in the Netherlands (Amsterdam), in France (Calais) or in the UK (Elm Hill Houses in Norwich). They were taking care of the sick and welcoming widows of Crusaders killed in the Orient.

The initiative came from a charismatic Walloon priest, Lambert the Stutterer (“Lambert le Bègue”) [1131-1177].  He denounced the simony of the local clergy (which means selling Church offices & roles) in the Principality of Liege and was imprisoned allegedly for heresy (close to Catharism). The Pope cleared him and proved him right. Lambert was popular among labourers, weavers, skinners and servants. He also translated books from the New Testament into the vernacular language, such as the Act of Apostles, which deals with simony (8:9–24), in order to explain to the people how sinful the local Liege clergy was. Lambert brought a social conscience to the people of Liege.

Besides, there is the legend that Thierry of Alsace came back from the 2nd Crusade to Bruges with the relic of the “Precious Blood” shed by Christ on the Cross, hence the name “Basilica of the Holy Blood”. The legend was referred to in Martin McDonagh’s film “In Bruges” (2008): starring Colin Farrell.

But for sure, those who gave Belgium an international recognition throughout centuries are painting artists. The religious theme was of course central in the whole Belgian art until the 18th century.
First came the so-called Flemish Primitives in the 15th century (~1400-~1530): Jan Van Eyck, Hans Memling, Rogier Van der Weyden,...
The “Ghent Altarpiece”, also called “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” by the brothers Jan & Hubert Van Eyck, is a huge polyptych panel painting from 1430, presented in the former baptistery of the St Bavo Cathedral, Ghent. Art historian Noah Charney[1] describes the altarpiece as one of the more coveted pieces of art, victim of 13 crimes since its installation and 7 thefts. In 1942 Adolf Hitler had it seized and stored in Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria (while it had been kept in Pau, meant to be transferred to the Vatican). Hitler then chose to keep it in the Altaussee salt mines (Bavaria) to protect it from Allied bombings. In 1945 it was recovered by the “Allied group Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program” where the Nazi had kept it from Allied bombings, and returned to Belgium. This was shown by the 2014 film: “The Monuments Men”, starring Matt Damon and George Clooney.

The Mystic Lamb is central on the painting. Let us remember that He symbolizes Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, the last sacrificed lamb, the end of the offerings of animals to God/the gods which was typical for the violence of the pre-Christian era (whether Jewish, Pagan or Persian, all cultures seemed cruel towards animals). It’s part of the whole Christian revolution. It’s a symbol for the non-predatory Christian ideal and the care for the harmless and innocent beings. The idea that cruelty towards animals comes from Christianity is just a myth.

“Such painters are not primitives. […] they represent the bloom of a dying civilization which was soon to be overwhelmed by religious dissension, by the advent of capitalism and by the growing influence of Renaissance ideas and formulas”, said Jan Albert Goris, Commissioner of Information for Belgium,
in New-York in 1942 (exhibition at the galleries of M. Knoedler and Cie). “We call them primitives
because they are the first in the glorious line of Flemish art.”

Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) clashed with the strong personalities of the “Primitives”. He brought torment into the art, paved the way for the Netherlandish Renaissance. His work included pagan, alchemical (the eggs) and fantastical elements. He painted a famous tryptich of the Temptation of Saint Anthony (~1501) [presented at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon]. Saint Anthony is referred to as the founder of eremitism in Pispir, Egypt (3rd century). The painting shows him triumphing demons’ attacks through contemplation and meditation.
Bosch is not his real name. His real name was Jeroen van Akken. The name Bosch refers to the city he comes from: s’Hertogenbosch. It’s in the present-day Netherlands but since s’Hertogenbosch belonged to the Duchy of Brabant at that time, Belgium may have as much as right as the Netherlands to claim Bosch’s legacy.
The Temptation of Saint Anthony became a classic in Belgian art inspiring painters like: Joachim Patinier, Henri Blès (both Walloons from Bouvignes, near Dinant, and who moved to Antwerp), Pieter Bruegel, Jan Mandyn, Pieter Huys, Joos van Craesbeeck (from present-day Brabant, moved to Antwerp and then to Brussels), David Teniers (from Antwerp but moved to Brussels), etc. but painters from other countries such as Salvador Dali or Paul Cézanne were also interested in that topic.

Van Craesbeeck’s “Temptation” is pretty impressive (it dates from ~1650 in the Baroque era, you can see it in its excessiveness).

Pieter Bruegel (the Elder) painted two “Tower of Babel”, better known is the “big one” from 1563 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). He did his ‘grand tour’ to Italy like all great Belgian artists of the time. The tower looks like the Colosseum. He seems to highlight God’s sentence on global Empires (Nimrod, the first “Globalist” leader in history – who can be compared to our present-day world leaders –, created the Babel Tower & was punished by God) , on humanism (in that mankind becomes the centre of the world, so humanism in the meaning of individualism)  and on the Kabbalah driving Italy (Petrarca, Pico della Mirandola, Recanati & Ficino). This implies the rejection of religious transcendence or verticality, the promotion of Man and the love of the earthly material goods & money: “If you are materially wealthy you are a good man.”  Ficino claimed “man has the same genius as the author of these skies and that in some ways he could also create them.” In the 17th century Descartes  said “we could make ourselves masters and owners of nature” (Colonialism is there). The Church always warned against this anthropomorphism and so does Bruegel. The Christian pilgrim is humble before God and His creation. Worth noting is that the European Parliament is modeled after the Bruegel painting, as if the European Union assumed their Babelian aim.

In 1888, James Ensor of Ostend painted his masterpiece: “Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889” (Paul Getty Museum, in Los Angeles). The painting shows a crowd of individualistic & degraded people who only care for themselves whether they be the capitalistic elite or the Marxist-driven laboring class.Jesus has Ensor’s looks, Ensor always fancied being persecuted. The slogan “Long Live Jesus, King of Brussels”can be seen in French on the right side of the painting. It reminds us that for Catholics, Christ is the true King of a country while the so-called King is only Christ’s lieutenant. Hence the often misunderstood “Divine right of kings”! It does not mean that kings were deities but that they had to abide by the divine/moral law. It was restrictive. A great analysis of Ensor’s painting is in English on .

Several Belgian priests also achieved international fame for the courage they’ve shown. So Father Damien became a “martyr” when as a missionary in Molokai, Hawaii, he got leprosy (in 1884) while treating and showing compassion for the victims of the terrible disease and Gandhi to say:
The political and journalistic world can boast of very few heroes who compare with Father Damien of Molokai. The Catholic Church, on the contrary, counts by the thousands those who after the example of Fr. Damien have devoted themselves to the victims of leprosy. It is worthwhile to look for the sources of such heroism.

Belgian film director Paul Cox directed a biopic about Father Damien in 1999 starring David Wenham as Damien and an impressive cast: Peter O’Toole, Leo McKern, Derek Jacobi and Kris Kristofferson.

In 1519 Spanish Libertador Hernan Cortes arrived in Tenochtitlan, which he renamed Mexico. It was no aggressive conquest, but a genuine liberation. Since landing in Vera Cruz, Cortes got the support of a lot of peoples that had been terrorized by Moctezuma’s Aztec Empire and that practiced human sacrifice for the entertainment of the mass (see the Mel Gibson film Apocalypto): the Tlaxcalans, the Cempoaltecs, the Xochimilacs joined the “Spanish Conquest” and happily espoused the Catholic Faith[2]

By 1521 a trio of Flemish Franciscans – Pieter of Ghent (Pedro da Gante), Johan Dekkers (or de Toict) and John de Ayora (or Aora) – arrived in America. Dekkers and Ayora died of fever in Honduras in 1525. Pieter of Ghent survived but he was not ordained and hence couldn’t celebrate masses but he did a lot of good deeds: he had the first book published in an Amerindian language in Antwerp in 1528, he opened some hundred of cult places for them but most of all he founded school for Amerindians in Texcoco, which later became the Colegio de San José de los Naturales in Mexico. By 1532 some 500 to 600 children were educated in it, they were ~1,000 in 1533. On 9 December 1531, an Amerindian peasant with the name Juan Diego reputedly saw the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the hill of Tepeypac, now in a suburb of Mexico. Juan Diego was converted to Catholicism by Brother Pieter and a pupil of Pieter’s painted the Lady following Juan Diego’s indications. The Lady became the recognized symbol of Catholic Mexicans. In 1912, Emiliano Zapata's peasant army rose out of the south against the government of Francisco Madero. When his peasant troops penetrated Mexico City they carried Guadalupan banners. More recently, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) of Subcomandante Marcos named their "mobile city" in honor of the Virgin: it is called Guadalupe Tepeyac.
 The story of Pieter of Ghent is the evidence that unlike what is told by many historians, the Spanish Conquistadores never genocided the Amerindian in the current Latin America, the way Anglophone Americans did in the North. South Amerindians massively and freely accepted the Catholic Faith as a liberation against a decadent  ruling elite. The numerous heads of states of Amerindian heritage in Latin America in recent years are testament for that. No Amerindians have ever governed the USA.

Many Belgian missionaries also went to China and became important figures of Chinese culture. Ferdinand Verbiest of Pittem arrived in Peking in 1660 at the initiative of fellow German Jesuit Adam Schall. Verbiest taught the Chinese the latest development in science: astronomy, ballistic, optic, mechanic, etc. He wrote a lot of textbooks in Chinese (but also in Dutch, French, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian).
The Peking astronomic observatory was reequipped by Verbiest with modern instruments. But when Emperor Shun-Shih died in 1661, China was governed by a regency who didn’t accept the new Western culture and the Jesuit missionaries were oppressed. When Emperor Kangxi took control in 1667, he resumed partnership and cultural dialogue with the Jesuits. In 1682 Verbiest sent fellow Jesuit Philippe Couplet of Mechelen  back to Europe along with converted Chinese Shen Fuzong. In 1687 Couplet published a book (dedicated to Louis XIV):  Confucius Sinarum philosophus, the first translation of Confucius’ Analects in Europe.

It should be said that with regards to astronomy, Verbiest at first taught the Tycho Brahe complicated geoheliocentric” model in which the earth is at the centre, the moon revolves around it, just like the combo sun + other planets (the planets revolve around the sun). Verbiest did not truly believe in it as he knew about Kepler’s heliocentric model, says art critic Karel Vereycken, but he did not want any problem with the University of Leuven. We were in the heat of the struggle between Jesuits and Jansenists. It should be remembered that the first missionaries to China like Michał Piotr Boym of Poland taught the heliocentric model of Kepler which  the Church had accepted long before the main universities in Europe, including the University of Leuven (Let us remember that Galileo had NOT been sued for his heliocentric model). The University was the cradle of Jansenism but Verbiest was a Jesuit. Cornelius Janssens, aka Jansenius, himself taught at the University around that period. Jansenism was a doctrine that advocated for predestination - i.e. God’s Grace is not granted to anybody but to a happy few, themselves - while for the Jesuits, God’s Grace is granted to anybody accepting it. In a way, Jansenism was a sort of Calvinist equivalent for Catholics even though the Church condemned it and later declared it as heretical (Unigenitus Bull, 1713). Jansenism had a lot of influence throughout Europe, French author Jean Racine was educated by them and Blaise Pascal was a supporter. They had a famous abbey in Port Royal which was destroyed by King Louis XIV who hated them with a passion. In the 18th century they occupied key posts in the French judicial system and paved the way for the secularization and the 1789 Revolution.

By 1665 the Jesuit missionaries to China definitively adopted the Keplerian model. The University of Leuven recognized the heliocentric model in 1691, a century after the Church did but still 37 years before Britain’s James Bradley gave the experimental proof of the earth movement.

Antoine Thomas of Namur, arrived in Macau, China in 1682 after studying at the Coimbra University,
Portugal. He was Verbiest’s pupil and did major work about solar eclipses and built dykes on the Yangtze River (to contain the floods), based on the work of Walloon engineer Rennequin Sualem. 

Vincent Lebbe of Ghent came to China – Tientsin, present-day Tianjin – shortly after the Boxer Rebellion in 1901. He realized that during the rebellion missions paid the price for being dependent from Western concessions, under a French protectorate (France was an anti-clerical republic!). On October 10, 1915, Lebbe and the Chinese Catholics founded the Catholic newspaper "Yishibao" (《益世報》) in Tianjin's Nanshi District on Rongye Street (outside the Concessions), considered one of the "Four Great Newspapers of the Republican period"[4]. He supported the creation of a Chinese Church. In 1926, Pius XI ordained the first Chinese bishops, thanks to him. After the Japanese invasion in 1931, he served the Chinese army in the health department. Under his responsibility, 20,000 wounded were evacuated, from 1931 to 1940. He organised actions behind Japanese lines. But on March 9 1940 Lebbe was captured by the Communists and Chiang Kai-Chek gained his liberation on April 17. He passed away in June 1940 of fatigue. The Chinese Church that he helped creating stood up against the Mao Zedong regime.

Father Pieter-Jan De Smet of Dendermonde (1801-1873) made several trips as a missionary to the USA and was a close confidant to the great Sioux leader Sitting Bull. He had convinced Sioux to sign the Fort Laramie Treaty (Wyoming) in 1851 that guaranteed territorial sovereignty as much as it provided security for the settlers. De Smet was enthusiastic about other missionary Charles Nerinckx of Everberg, near Leuven, who had built a dozen churches in Kentucky and then Missouri.

Father Georges-Louis Dropsy was a Belgian resistant during both World Wars fulfilling several missions like fetching back air pilot in distress, tuning guerilla operations, etc. He was decorated as Honorary Colonel of the British Army. Father Dominique Pire was a hero of the resistance too during WWII. By 1949 he took care of German refugees who had been kicked out of Central Europe, by Stalin, though not mixing Faith with his actions.
 1. Stealing the Mystic Lamb, Public Affairs, 2010, Wiki quote
 2. Carolina Figueroa Torres in “Tlaxcala : In Defense of Its Past”; or Jean Dumont in “L’Église aux risqué de l’Histoire”
 3.  ; Documentary footage of Zapata and Pancho Villa's armies entering Mexico City can be seen at, Zapata's men can be seen carrying the flag of the Guadalupana about 38 seconds in ; Subcomandante Marcos,, "Zapatistas Guadalupanos and the Virgin of Guadalupe" March 24, 1995 , accessed December 11, 2006.
 4. (says Wikipedia)
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    The Workingmen’s Guilds in Belgium:  Example of Solidarity Between Classes

    Godefroid Kurth wrote a book called in its English version: “The Workingmen's Guilds of the Middle Ages” (1893).

    In the Middle Ages and beyond, the guilds (or “crafts”) existed in all Europe. French called them “corps de métiers” or later “corporations”, Italians called them “arti”, Spaniards called them “gremio”, Portuguese called them “corporações de ofício” and Germans called it “zunft”. Other civilizations like India, China or the Islamic Caliphate already had similar systems before.

    Kurth defined them as “a society composed of people of the same profession who […] banded themselves together to practice their craft honestly, to watch over the interests of their members, and to give loyal service to the public.”

    They were based on mutual assistance, protection of the workers and respect for customers, care for women, for the weak or the poor. The sick had an income and medical aid during their period of incapacity. There were be retirement houses and funds for elderly persons. They had social welfare.

    There were no intermediates/spongers between producers and consumers.
    The member is first an apprentice for about 3 or 4 years, or longer. He’s lodged and fed by his master and at the end of his apprenticeship he would make a “masterpiece” to become a “companion”.

    The guilds were “born to the solidarity of the Mystical Body of Christ”, Kurth argued. All of them
    were under a saint’s protection. “Guilds considered it an honour to figure in a body at the great religion feasts, especially in the processions […].” They weren’t “ashamed of being toilers […] and had a singularly delicate sense of professional honour.”
    The feasts were a big part of Belgian social life. The Church guaranteed 85 rest days: 52 Sundays and 27 liturgical celebration days, plus at least half a dozen extra days off: their guild’s patron saint day, the parish’s patron day, the master’s feast, etc. They also had work time cut on 70 other days: all Saturdays and eves of public holidays. 19th century communist Paul Lafargue (the author of “The Right of Laze”, the champion of work time cuts) noted that the annual leave of “90” days was judged as Catholicism’s “great crime” by 1789 revolutionaries (Lafargue was an anti-Clerical but still he was objective). So we are far from the 19th century capitalist exploitation! A working day could be long, especially in summer (12 hrs) but in winter, it could go down to 7.5 hrs. They only worked in daylight, for safety reasons. Compared to present-day schedules, it’s long but it’s short compared to the 19th century. The rulings were animated by the sentiment that it was neither fair nor profitable to overwork the toiler.

    No wonder that Bruegel painted his “Fight Between Carnival and Lent” (1559; K.H.M., Vienna) showing a common popular Carnival feast in a village, burlesque like much of his art. Lafargue referred to the South Netherland’s school of painting.

    The quality of the final products was guaranteed by inspectors and the long apprenticeship. We are far from the modern “fast food” restauration like McDonald’s and such.

    Guilds’ government was sheer democracy. The mode of election varied but all guildsmen had the right to vote, even apprentices. They elected governors or deans, each year. “When important affairs were in question, they convoked a general meeting [and] Everybody was entitled to give his opinion”, said Kurth.

    The guilds also had a say on political matters. It was not the modern individualistic democracy. It was a corporative democracy. The citizens did not express themselves as individuals but as members of a professional group.

    Slavery had long been abolished. Serfdom was abolished in the Duchy of Brabant as early as in 1247 (Duke Henri II) and disappeared in Liège in the 14th century but even then it was in decline (only in the 16th century in the Duchy of Hainaut though).

    In the Principality of Liege, the price of bread was fixed by 1171 along with the trade place (the “halles”) for better control (which also characterized Flemish cities like Bruges or Ghent but not Antwerp which was more liberal). Such was the fear of speculation on the people’s food. Guilds developed in the Principality in the 13th century. We have mentions of fullers or shearer associating into guilds in St-Truiden in 1237, copper beaters in Dinant in 1214, etc. The oldest mention of a guild in Liege dates from 1288: a guild of tanners (the document in question shows that the guild were investing on a mill that they would own collectively, like bakers often invested on a collective oven).  By 1384, there were 32 guilds in Liege: the famous “32 bons métiers de Liège”, a stabilized figure till 1789.

    In 1316 the Peace of Fexhe assured the crafts of a major role in the legislative power of the principality and of the towns, alongside the Chapter (clergy) and the aristocracy. It remained till 1789. The Peace of Fexhe was a sort of Magna Charta equivalent in Liege that ensured fundamental freedoms to the citizens but the English charter did not admit the crafts into parliament, which the Peace of Fexhe did. The Middle Ages were no “Dark Ages” unlike some Anglophones might think!

    However Kurth argued that the Town Council of Dinant was even more representative of the population than in Liege since even unguilded workers (peasants?) could elect councilors.

    In Flanders, the crafts also showed their power against the patricians called “poorters”, which means the rich merchants. Flanders was known for its textile century with towns like Ypres or Ghent, Bruges being a flourishing international harbour. The Flemish textile industry depended on the English wool. Hence Flanders was in an unbalanced position. Their liege was the King of France but England was their main provider in raw material.

    According to Alain Lottin (in his “Histoire des Provinces”), Countess Margaret II of Flanders already sided with the crafts against the patricians by 1275 but Philip III of France handled it with diplomacy.

    However, riots broke out between 1279 & 1281, in Bruges, Tournai, Saint-Omer & Douai (in present-day France) and a particularly violent one in Ypres called the “Kokerulle”. The new Count – Guy of Dampierre – stopped the massacre and admitted the crafts in the town halls. So the patricians then called on their liege – Philip the Fair, new King of France – for help. The crafts’ ally was Edward I of England. He decided to treat directly with them, much to the merchants’ surprise. So two parties clashed: the “Leliaerts” (merchants and main lords; ‘lelie’ = ‘lily’, referring to the King of France’s coat of arms) and the “Klauwaerts” (referring to the Lion of Flanders’ claws, consisting of the crafts and petty bourgeois, supported by the Count). Philip the Fair conquers Flanders after winning the Battle of Veurne (1297), occupies the county (1300-02) and imprisons Dampierre.

    The revolt occurred in 1302. Pieter De Coninck was the dean of the Weavers’ guild. He was one-eyed but a real leader. He protested against the expenses of Philip’s “Joyous Entry” in Bruges that the people had to pay for. He was therefore imprisoned, liberated in 1301 after another riot, banished and went to Namur to find support among the Count’s still free relatives. Dampierre was Count of Namur as well as of Flanders. That is why Namur’s coat of arms still shows the Lion of Flanders.

    De Coninck came back to Bruges and on May 18 1302 an insurrection broke out that history remembered as the “Bruges Matins”. The “Klauwaerts” entered the houses where the French were garrisoned and killed anyone who could not pronounce the shibboleth “schild en vriend” (“shield & friend”). The origin of the phrase is unknown but some suggest it might have been "des gilden vriend" ("friend of the guilds"), which is disputed. An estimated 2,000 people were killed.

    Philip the Fair raised an army in reaction but on July 11 1302, the French army was defeated in Kortrijk in what came to be known as the Battle of the Golden Spurs. The French took their revenge in 1904 at the Battle of Mons-en-Pévèle and both parties signed the Peace of Athis-sur-Orge in 1305 (revised several times till 1320) and the County kept its independence.

    Nowadays, the Battle of the Golden Spurs is still a symbol for Flemish separatism. Yet the so-called “Flemish” army consisted of numerous Walloon militias from Namur (as Dampierre was also Count of Namur) while Pieter De Coninck did not manage to convince Ghent to join him and the Duchy of Brabant – with Antwerp and much of what is now “Flanders” – sided with France.

    Actually, the win against the “Golden Spurs” (referring to the spurs that the French nobility wore, it was a battle between the crafts and the nobility) was a craftsmen win. The craft guilds controlled Bruges, Ghent & Ypres among others after that.

    By 1336, a new revolt broke out in Ghent. This time the Count – Louis of Nevers – was too French friendly and King Edward III of England stopped wool exports. Jacob van Artevelde stood up, possibly a member of the brewers’ guild (those developing in the 14th century in many cities). The Count had to exile to France. Artevelde became “Ruwaert” (a “regent”), gained the lifting on the English wool export embargo and guaranteed Flanders’ neutrality in the 100-Year War.
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    1384 to 1482 : The Burgundian Era or “Merry Old Belgium”

    Philip II “the Bold” of Burgundy was Count of Flanders in 1384. In 1385, at the Peace of Tournai, Philip - a good diplomat – negotiated with Ghent’s crafts and confirmed their privileges.

    The Duchess Luiza of Valencia (1912-1983)[1] was right when she argued that even though they carried the Burgundian Cross and their supporters called themselves Burgundians, their flags were rather flying over Bruges and Brussels than over Dijon.
    Actually Philip the Good (reign: 1419-1467) was made by his father John the Fearless (reign: 1404-1419) to learn Flemish and to spent some long stays in Ghent in his childhood.

    The Burgundian territory was actually divided between the “Low Countries” (Philip the Bold coined the phrase) and the “High Country” or the “Beyond Country”, namely proper Burgundy and the Franche-Comté but there was no territorial continuity between them. The Lorraine cut both parts.
    The federalization of the Low Countries was really the making under Philip the Good. Mainly in a pacific way: he bought the marquisate of Namur in 1421, inherited the Duchy of Brabant-Limburg in 1430, the Hainaut, Holland and Friesland in 1433, the Duchy of Luxembourg by 1443. 

    This federalization was manifested by the Parliament of Mechelen in 1473 under Charles the Bold. The Parliament was an appeal court of justice for the whole Low Countries and did not encompass the “High Countries”. Mary of Burgundy turned it into a “Great Council” (giving more power to the estates in it) but it remained until 1794. Besides the Dukes created a single currency and minted it.
    More importantly Philip the Good created the Estates Generals in 1465 (the modern day Parliament in which each “estates” – duchies, counties, ... – sent representatives of the three orders) which was summoned 100 times until 1790 and in which the guilds are enabled to veto any bill along with the clergy and the nobility.[2]

    The Burgundian period especially between 1400 & 1450 was one of peace and prosperity for Belgium especially in the rural areas with the developing linen industry (it made us less and less dependent of English wool, we also started importing wool from Spain and Portugal) and forage plants for animals.   

    In 1275, Tielt had erected an exchange for linen trade. This market flourished as a source of supply to weavers in the region. By the 1300's, the Mandel river was vital for retting harvested flax to remove the binders and release the fibers. By the 1400’s, the craft of linen manufacture spread throughout Flanders, especially to the Lys region. By the 1600's, Meulebeke was an important source for finer qualities of linen cloth.

    Kortrijk on the Lys river still has a prestigious international reputation in the flax trade. Before he became a professional cyclist, Briek Schotte had worked in flax fields on the river.

    Also the continual presence of the Dukes and their court in Brussels made it possible for the arts of tapestry and lacemaking to develop in the area; some sort of luxury textile industry.

    However in the cities, the post Philip the Bold Burgundian centralization was no longer supported by the guilds mainly because of heavy taxation. Ghent stood up against it but was defeated at Gavere (1453). They could keep their privileges but after a heavy fine to the Duke.

    The Monarchical Centralization which characterized the Renaissance period and which the Burgundians were a first example of, showed monarchs’ aspired to total power and to control craft guilds but it remains that those monarchs never really managed it, whether they be Burgundians, Habsburg or Bourbons. Under the monarchy, and perhaps despite it, the guilds and other feudal rights resisted. The absolute monarchy is just a myth!

    The Principality of Liege, which was autonomous but the Burgundians had a sort of protectorate over it. At the Battle of Othée in 1408, the Burgundians (John the Fearless) defeated Henry of Hornes and placed Prince-Bishop John of Bavaria back in power and he abolished the guilds. His successor, John of Wallenrode restored them in 1418.
    In 1465 & 1467, after the battles of Montenaeken (present-day Limburg) and Brusthem (near Huy), the Dukes defeated the rebellion led by Raes van Heers (of the Guild of smiths) and Charles the Bold (1467-1477) confiscated all the goods of the Liege guilds (only restituted after his death in 1477).
    In other words, the Liege guilds suffered martyrdom against the Dukes but they withstood their rage!

    Charles the Bold also cherished two ideals: emancipating from the vassal status towards the King of
    France, Louis XI (de facto he did but Louis XI never acknowledged it) and linking the two parts of his lands: the Low and the High Countries, which were separated by the Lorraine. That would be Charles’ “Sin of Pride”. For the first time, a Burgundian Duke started a military conquest against a territory. He failed and was killed at the Battle of Nancy in 1477.

    Philip the Good had a more pragmatic, though cold and sometimes cynical foreign policy. The Burgundian Dukes had been regents of France between 1396 and 1422 due to King Charles VI’s madness. By 1429, Philip became the arbiter of the war between England and France. It should be said that Philip – to his shame – captured Saint Joan of Arc and turned her in to the English.

    The Burgundian era was also the era of the “Flemish Primitives”, whose art was far ahead of their time. For example, the portrait of Charles the Bold by Rogier Van der Weyden (~1462) [Actually a French speaker from Tournay, “Roger de la Pasture”, he “dutchized” his name]. If you compare the portrait to that of the French King Louis XI, you can see how more detailed Van der Weyden’s was.

    Mary of Burgundy is Charles the Bold only child and was the last Duchess of Burgundy. Mary granted the cities in the Low Countries the “Grand Privilege” (1477) which guaranteed the privileges of the guilds and the estates. The Low Countries became a confederation and the future monarchs would have to take an oath to respect these autonomies. Her marriage with Maximilian of Habsburg prevented any annexation by the Kingdom of France but from then on we would be a part of the far greater Habsburg Empire. Charles V of Habsburg is Mary’s grandson. His Empire would be one of the greatest in history. Charles is a pure Fleming from Ghent but he moved his court to the Escurial near Madrid. Yet the Low Countries after him are usually referred to as the Spanish Low Countries while we could as well argue that Spain was Flemish. Actually this is to say that the Spanish and then Austrian presence in Belgium had never been felt by our ancestors except in times of crises (like 1585 with the Fall of Antwerp and the Protestant Reform). Otherwise they were just monarchs that the population freely invested and who swore to respect the local autonomy of their principalities. 
     1. in “Degrelle Told Me”
     2. Jo Gérard: “Oui! La Belgique existe : Je l’ai rencontrée”, Collet 1985
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 14:50 by Echoes »


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    The Guild of Saint Luke

    The Guild of Saint Luke really developed in the Southern Netherlands. Antwerp’s one was probably the first ever founded in Europe (oldest mention of it in 1382). It was mainly the guilds of painters but in Antwerp, it also included embroiderers, bookbinders, gilders, gold beaters, stone cutters, sculptors or button makers. There were Guilds of St Luke in Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Leuven, Mechelen, Tournai, Mons, Kortrijk and also Liege.

    German artist, Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) recalled being a guest at the Antwerp Guild of St Luke and
    invited to a banquet in his honour:
    “When I was led to the table, the crowd of guests formed a line, like for a great lord… And while I so was seeding at the place of honour, the representative of the town council came in with his two servants and gave me four jugs of wine… Then came Master Peter, the town’s carpenter, who offered me two jugs of wine and his most courteous compliments… and late at night, I was solemnly led back with candles.”
    Worth noting is that the Protestant reform in the North did not destroy the guilds, on the contrary. This fact goes counter to Max Weber’s theory that Protestantism paved the way for capitalism. Secularism and irreligion did.

    The Reform started the 80 Years’ War (1568-1648), with William “the Silent” of Orange leading to the Netherlands’ independence (United Provinces) in 1581. In 1585 Philip II of Spain took Antwerp so that the Southern Netherlands remain Catholics and under his reign. Consequently the Dutch blockaded the estuary of the Schelde and Antwerp lost its leadership as international port.

    The consequence of it was a massive Protestant migration from South to North. Amsterdam’s population evolved from 12,000 inhabitants in 1500 to 60,000 inhabitants in 1600, though Amsterdam also capitalized on the Bruges decline and Holland was already a centre of humanism and tolerance before the Calvinist revolt: think of Erasmus of Rotterdam (a Catholic). Also the then under way standardization of the Dutch language in Holland was heavily influenced by the Brabantian dialect because of that migration. Artists, intellectuals, authors migrated too. Until 1585, most Northern artists went selling their talent in the South in particular to Antwerp, one of the main cultural centre in Europe (Bruegel was originally from Breda, present-day Netherlands) but afterwards it was the reverse[2]. That’s how the 17th century became the Dutch Golden Era in terms of economy (based on the Slave Trade, though!) and in terms of culture with such artists as Rembrandt or Vermeer and playwrights such as Joost van Vondel or P.C. Hooft. However the Baroque tradition of the South, represented by Pieter-Paul Rubens, Jacob Jordaens or Antoon Van Dijk is still very influential but based on immoderation compared to the Dutch sobriety.
    The Twelve Year Truce (1609-1621) allowed for trade resumption between South & North after the blockade of the Schelde estuary and religious tolerance (Jordaens was Protestant). The ongoing conflict was mainly political: Catholic France (sometimes supported by the Pope) allied with the Protestant Netherlands against the Catholic Habsburg. Many Dutch cities reissued guild charters as a form of protection against the great number of paintings coming from the South. Guilds of St Luke were also founded during the truce period in the Netherlands: for example in Delft, Gouda & Rotterdam[3]

    Esaias Van de Velde (1587-1630) is a famous Dutch landscape artists born in Amsterdam to an Antwerp family.

    Frans Hals was born in Antwerp. His family moved to Haarlem where he entered the Guild of Saint Luke. Hals is a leading Dutch portraitist. Here is his Portrait of St John the Evangelist:

    Peter Paul Rubens had a friend of his in Rotterdam whom he saw as a compatriot with a different religion than his. That’s a good argument for the advocates of a reunion of the Low Countries.[4]

    The Grazing Rights as Symbol for the Rural Communitarian Life

    Freedom wasn’t just prevalent in the cities in Belgium. In 1182, William “White Hands” – arch-bishop of Reims – enabled every peasant to elect local administrators in Beaumont-en-Argonne in the Champagne: the “Law of Beaumont”. It extended up to the Duchy of Luxembourg with towns like Virton or Torgny in present-day Belgium: an area called “Gaume” (Belgian Lorraine).     

    And then there were the grazing lands.

    Jean-Claude Michéa is a French philosopher (with communist background). In “Les mystères de la gauche”[5] he wrote: “Under these centralized monarchical structure […] the ‘feudal’ system contributed to actually maintaining whole sections of communitarian life, - and of local autonomy – […]. For instance, such was the case of these customary rights like the grazing right which for centuries had allowed the poorest peasants[…] to feed their beasts on common and private lands on the village, once the crop season is over.”

    The Enclosure – the right to interdict access to private properties to the poor – sparked intensive agriculture & brought capitalism to the land. It had started in England with the Anglican, anti-Catholic revolution. For more about this topic, you might want to read Garreth Hardin’s “The Tragedy of the Commons” (1968) or Thomas More’s “Utopia”,  which was first published in Leuven in 1516 by Dirk Martens of Aalst while More was an enjoy in Flanders and who was Erasmus’ long-time publisher. The first edition of Utopia included notes and letters by Dutch historian Gerard Geldenhouwer of Nijmegen and Humanist printer Pieter Gillis (name sometimes Anglicized as Peter Giles) who is also a character in Book I of Utopia.
    On the Continent, Enclosure came in the 18th century with the French physiocrats (Quesnay, Turgot, etc.). Physiocracy was a branch of the Enlightenment which focused on the economy. Some of those worked with Diderot on the Encyclopedia and were staunch advocates of the slave trade. Etymologically speaking it means “power of nature”, i.e. market determinism. They had a huge influence on Enlightened despots like Maria-Theresa of Austria (monarch in the Southern Netherlands). They were liberal on the economy but not in politics and influenced Adam Smith and the “Classic” British school. Michéa quotes one such ideologist – Ethis de Noveant – considering grazing rights as barbaric rights “which could only come from centuries of ignorance” (1767). So these progressives considered those deeply rooted social traditions as barbaric! The working class was “conservative”.

    The origin of the grazing right seems unknown and probably transmitted by oral law. However several charters of liberties in the Low Middle Ages and the Renaissance attested of it. In 1660, in Thuin, near Charleroi, the councilors made up a “record of customs”, which suggested that the “grazing of sheep was disorganized”. This document already showed that the social spirit of the community was undermined by more individualistic ambitions among the wealthy. Yet the town council sided with the humblest.

    So as an Enlightened despot, Maria-Theresa ordered the share, sale & clearing of the commons (1757 in the Hainaut, 1772 in the Brabant, 1773 in Namur). Luxembourg resisted very well but land was still sold (1778 on).
    Also in 1775, Maria-Theresa purely & simply abrogated the Law of Beaumont. Vienna would nominate mayors and councilors itself, lifetime terms.
    In Namur, a decree already prescribed the renting of commons in 1765 but was abolished 2 years later under the opposition of the 24 crafts of Namur. Namur before the Revolution already was a true democracy. The common people formed a true counter-power. No absolutism!

    However, Joseph De Smet argued: “the increase in private ownership was not considerable. Only a small part of the commons was shared […].”
     1. reported by Erwin Panofsky, in The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer, Princeton, 1943
     2. P. Godin, P. Ostyn & J-P. Petit in “20 voor taal 2”, Plantyn 1992
     3. Maarten Prak in "Guilds and the Development of the Art Market during the Dutch Golden Age", in Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, vol. 30, no. 3/4. 2003
     4. Jo Gérard in “Oui! La Belgique existe: Je l’ai rencontrée”(JM Collet, 1985)
     5. Climats, 2013
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 14:55 by Echoes »


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    1789: The Liege Revolution

    In 1789 the principality of Liege included much of present-day Belgian Limburg, part of Dutch Limburg and of Namur. Maastricht was a Dutch/Liege condo.

    It’s a little known fact that there were 3 revolutions in 1789: the French, Liege and Brabantian ones. In Liege the Revolution was an emulation of the French one: bourgeois and proto-capitalist, based on The Enlightenment. The prince-bishop Charles de Velbrück (1772-84) was very much receptive to the new ideas, while an ordained priest! The fruit was rotten from inside out. He was a traitor. In 1779 he created the “Société d’émulation” which leaders of the Revolution came from. Public conferences were organised in which French Enlightenment’s ideas were developed. Voltaire trashed the guilds – in his “Dictionnaire philosophique” (1764) – for inventing a “prodigious number of feasts”. Rousseau wished to suppress all intermediate bodies – so called “partial societies” (The Social Contract) – between state & people, which means the guilds.

    The insurrection started on August 18 1789. The Republic of Liege was declared and on April 17 1790, all guilds were scrapped! The Republic lasted till 1791. The Austrians came in and put the Prince-bishop back in office. The rest is a battle between French (Republic) and Austrians, eventually won by the French in 1794.

    The revolutionaries then decided over the destruction of the St. Lambert's Cathedral. The Cathedral was an architectural wonder: 2 choirs, 2 transepts, 3 naves & a 135m high arrow! It had the biggest roof in Europe in the Middle-Ages. The demolition lasted from 1803 to 1827. It was a crime against culture. We may see the 2014/15 fanatics of ISIL as the heirs of the Liege revolutionaries. Secularists who pulverize stones because they cannot support civilization, any civilizations or culture.   

    Maastricht also was chaotic after the French invasion: clusters & churches were emptied, which led to their demolition, archives and libraries were plundered, centuries old hospitals, hospices and poor houses were closed[1]. Bridges deteriorated because badly-tended, just like in Liege[2].

    1789: The First Brabantian Revolution: A Catholic Counter-Revolution

    Of the three Revolutions that broke out in 1789, the Brabantian Revolution is remarkable in that it’s the only one to be reactionary & working-class friendly (based on the medieval craft guilds).

    In the 18th century Belgium was prosperous. Two cobbled sections linked Leuven with Namur and with Liege, replacing the old “strade bianche”. By 1708, communal edicts in Namur favoured the
    building of at least 10 houses a year in bricks, stones and slate instead of the old thatch & cob housing. It was also true for rural areas. Many 18th century farms on the North of Namur still stand.

    The workers’ subsistence was guaranteed. In Namur The kilo of meat was 60% of the daily income of the poorest worker while a tasty meal in an inn cost 6 time more. The richest workers earned 15 times more than the poorest[3] but the common people rarely ate meat, rather bread, vegetables & fruits. From 1750 on potatoes were imported from the Andes and very popular among the workers & peasants while disdained by the nobility. Same goes for beans.

    However Emperor Joseph II of Austria pursued his mother’s “Enlightened despotic” reforms. It started positively with the Edict of Toleration in 1781, whereby non-Catholics were admitted to the guilds. That is true. But sadly there’s more to Joseph II’s religious policy than that.

    He scrapped some 700+ convents (affecting some 38,000 monks), took measures about the height of candles, the ringing of bells, etc. In other words, he ignored what present-day atheists seem so keen to defend: the separation between Church & State. But in this case – like so many before or since – a secular statesman is minding the business of the Church. Not the other way round!

    But wars are not usually based on religion but on the economy. According to Franco Venturini[4], Joseph II started reforming guilds and customary laws: regulating working schedules, especially for weavers’ who allowed themselves holiday on Monday and half of Tuesday. And in 1787 Joseph made an edict “establishing ‘full freedom of trade in grain’ and abolishing all legislation contrary to this end. The sales of grain, its export, import, and so on, was freed from any ‘police inspection or other formality.’” It means that the price of bread was no longer fixed by authority to make it affordable to the poorest but by the invisible hand of the market, opening it to any kind of speculation on the people’s food. It’s libertarianism and “Progress” (historically speaking, the left-wing before labour movement existed).   

    At this point, we should talk about Joseph II’s abolition of death penalty (1787). This reform was inspired to him by Italian “Enlightenment” philosopher Cesare Beccaria in his “On Crimes & Punishments” (1764). Abolishing death penalty as such is a moral thing. The following comment is not meant to be a campaign in favour of its restoration. Yet in Beccaria’s typically “Enlightenment” mindset, the abolition did not reflect any show of compassion for the convict at all, it was utilitarian! Beccaria wished to replace death penalty by … “perpetual slavery”:

    Perpetual slavery contains all that is necessary to deter the most hardened and determined,
    as much as the punishment of death. In fact, I say it has more.

    There might be good arguments in favour of the abolition but this one was definitely immoral.

    So back in 1787, bloody riots broke out in Leuven & Brussels. The Hainaut and Brabant stopped paying taxes.
    On October 27 1789, a Belgian army (led by Jan Van der Mersch) surprisingly defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Turnhout, while being fewer in numbers (2,000 Belgians vs 2,500 Austrians).

    Brabant declared its independence on December 31 1789. 7 other estates joined in (incl. Flanders, Namur, Hainaut, or even Guelders (now Dutch). Luxembourg remained true to the Habsburgs) to form the United States of Belgium on Jan. 11 1790. The word “Belgium” officially appears for the first time in history. But it had already widely been referred to among literate circles: Vondel referred to it, so did Christopher Marlowe in his play “Edward II”, in which Queen Isabel said: “Our kindest friends in Belgia we have left.” And of course, William Shakespeare referred to it in his “Henry IV”: 
    “What counsels, sir? Edward from Belgia
    With hasty Germans and blunt Hollanders
    Hath passed in safety through the narrow seas”
    Besides, Lorenzo de Medici (1449-1492) had a world map in his office in the Palazzo Vecchio of Florence with the word “Belgica” on it referring to present-day Belgium and in the 17th century New York was referred to as “Novum Belgium” after the discovery by Peter Minuit.

    For the only time in history Belgium was a republic but it was a Christian & federative, hybrid regime. The Estates Generals were summoned (54 representatives of the 8 estates; the 3 “states” – clergy, nobles & the 3rd state – were represented) and they signed up a Treaty.

    The Estates General delegated its power to a “Congress” which was the executive body of the republic. The Congress only exercised competences in only 3 different fields: the foreign, defense & financial policies. They had the exclusive power of minting money, key role! They issued copper, silver & golden coins (guldens) with the “Belgic Lion” on the observe (different from the Flemish Lion).

    All other fields were left to the estates, enabling them to halt the reforms by the Habsburg’s, such as the process of selling grazing lands, for the biggest benefit of poor peasants.

    The Treaty also gave back the local Church to the Holy See, hence respecting the distinction between Church & State: It’s the Ultramontanist doctrine which is opposed to the Gallicanist doctrine which advocates for a Catholic religion subordinated to the State. Very quickly, dissensions aroused among revolutionaries. Henri Van der Noot was the Conservative Prime Minister, Canon Petrus Van Eupen his Foreign Minister. They were known as the “Statists” and supported by the guilds (companions, masters & deans), the peasants and the clergy.

    On the other side were the Vonckists, named after their leader Jean-François Vonck. They were liberals, inspired by the Enlightenment, campaigning for a centralized Belgium and an individualistic type of democracy with census suffrage (which means you had to pay for voting!). No wonder the Vonckists were only supported by the rich: lawyers, merchants, etc.

    The late 20th century mainstream media like “Le Soir” claimed that Vonck was the true hero of the Revolution while Van der Noot was just a demagogical tribune manipulating the mass. They realize that Van der Noot had the support of the labouring classes and can’t accept the idea that supporting feudal rights was in workers’ interest and not the merchant order of the French Revolution. Things never change.

    The “Statists” needed to find allies. Austria was involved in the Russo-Turkish War (1787-92), on Russia’s side. Prussia, Britain and the Netherlands were rather siding with the Sublime Porte. Hence the Belgians found Prussia as ally. Despite ideological divergences (Prussia was “Enlightened”) both countries made a geostrategic agreement against a common enemy.  So Belgium hired Prussian General Baron von Schönfeld as mercenary and appointed him general-in-chief instead of Van der Mersch - who was a Vonckist – hired British hero Colonel George Koehler. Vonckists were gradually being kicked off of the key posts.
    Yet the Treaty of Reichenbach in July showed a twist of alliance as Austria made peace with Turkey and allied with Prussia. Prussia, Britain and the Netherlands now recognized Austria’s legitimacy over Belgium. The Austrians entered Brussels in December 1790 and restored their authority.
     1. Ubachs, P.J.H., en I.M.H. Evers, Tweeduizend jaar Maastricht. Een stadsgeschiedenis. Zutphen, 2006
     2. (Jo Gérard in “La guerre des Paysans 1797-1798”, Collet 1985)
     3. Jean Fivet’s “La Révolution brabançonne”, Pays de Namur 1989
     4. The End of the Old Regime in Europe, 1776-1789, Part II
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 14:56 by Echoes »


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    1795 French Annexation & the 1797/98 Peasant War

    The French Republic annexed Belgium in 1795 and exported their ignominious laws:

    The d’Allarde Decree (1791; 1795 in Belgium) scrapped all guilds and declared their goods as national property. So all the heritage that crafts/workers had hoarded up for centuries was confiscated/stolen by the bourgeois state.
    By February 1797 organizers of clandestine guilds were massively arrested but hatters managed to secretly maintain their activities; so did the watermen from Ghent and cutteurs from Brussels.[1] This shows that the French Revolution was not made BY the people FOR the people but by the Bourgeois AGAINST the people.

    The Le Chapelier Law (1791; 1797 in Belgium) prohibited any kind of working coalitions, which means de facto any trade unions and worker’s strikes. Workers could no longer negotiate their salaries while those were fairly shared within guilds. Workers were left alone against the market. A terribly violent law!

    The Republican Calendar (1792 in France; 1797 in Belgium) replaced the Gregorian one. It consisted of 10-day weeks, so that workers had but one rest day in 10 instead of one in 7. The printer Frans Jozef Van der Elst of the “Wekelyks Bericht voor de Stadt ende Provincie van Mechelen” (First ever newspaper in Belgium, founded by his father Jan Frans in 1759) was made to stop his activity in February 1798 because he still used the Gregorian Calendar.

    The Law of June 10 1793 allowed for further sales of commons (though suspended in 1796). Grazing lands survived the Revolution but were under periodic attack. In Belgium, the 206,000 hectares of 1876 were cut to only 21,637 in 1959! That right was suppressed in 1961. The French historian Marc Bloch argued: “The right of Enclosure was so much in tune with the way the Revolutionaries perceived the right of the individual, it had to be an article of faith.”

    By 1798, the French “Directory” installed something foreign to us in Belgium: the conscription! The military service was meant to last for 5 years in times of peace (!) and to be unlimited in times of war.
    Georges Bernanos argued that exemption from military service was seen as a fundamental freedom by the people under the Old Regime. The State never dared to demand that to the common men. Only aristocrats and volunteers went to war. Now they were to be conscripts… until 1994. The biggest wars of the two centuries that followed were conscription wars, one should never forget that.

    This all sparked the “Peasant War” (Oct. to Dec. 1798), one of the most important of Belgian history. The Campine (North of Antwerp) was known as the “Belgian Vendée”. The Republic equated the two cases by law and called both Belgians and Vendeans: “Brigands”. By 1794 the Vendeans and the Chouans (Breton rebels) rebelled against the Republic for the same reasons: the conscription.

    “By 1796, the Peasants were ruined by extraordinary taxes, by requisitions of horses, carriages, herds, by the pillage of hungry soldiers living on the inhabitants”, says historian Jo Gérard[2]. “Yet in 1796 the crops were wonderful but the peasants won’t benefit from it at all. The Republic forbade Belgians to export grains to Holland. Sales of colza, hops or broad beans were also prohibited. Only representatives of the Army could acquire corn at a price that they would set.”

    “In Autumn 1796 an epizootic kills almost all the animals that had not yet been stolen to the peasants of Luxembourg, Liege and Walloon Brabant. The peasants could no longer afford any veterinary surgeons.”

    The memory of the revolt shaped the “Flemish movement”, after the Belgian independence of 1830 while the then Belgian elite recuperate it despite the fact that the Peasant were fighting for the “Old Order”. The book “De Boerenkrijg: een archeologische kijk op de periode rond 1798”[3] acknowledged that “there were actually many Walloon ‘brigands’, like among others Charles-François Jacqmin [or Charle de Loupoigne]. The Walloons of that time did not feel French (just like now); the conscription law must have been as radical for them as for the Flemings.” 

    Loupoigne was a fearsome and elusive rebel (in contact with Chouan hero, Georges Cadoudal) as was Antoine Constant (celebrated by novelist Hendrik Conscience in his “Boerenkrijg” 1853).

    Dutch-speaking “brigands” included Emmanuel van Gansen, Pieter Corbeels or Emmanuel Rollier.

    The revolt was also fierce in Luxembourg. It was known as the Klëppelkrich (or “Bludgeon War”, “Guerre des Gourdins”). The Duchy of Luxembourg then included much of the present-day Belgian Ardennes (the Belgian province also called Luxembourg) and the present-day German Eifel. Michel Pintz of Asselborn, Luxembourg, was executed on May 20 1799 and is still a hero in Luxembourg.

    According to Xavier Rousseaux, the revolts killed 5,638 insurgents + 174 executed (out of 10,000
    men). It was butchery! Those peasants were fighting for a just cause and with the bravery of being out of range! Present-day left-wingers who read the Peasant War or the Wars of Vendée would typically despise those peasants. They were traitors to the Republic or manipulated by the local priests. In any case they were full retarded. But those left-wingers are also the first to be happy that military service has now been abolished since 1994 (in Belgium) and would probably be first in line to revolt if it ever is restored.
     1. Jo Gérard in “La guerre des paysans 1797-1798”, J.M. Collet, 1985
     2. op. cit.
     3. (Peeters, 2007)
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 14:59 by Echoes »


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    1797-1800 : The French Revolution or The Illusion of Press Freedom: The “De Brackenier” Case

    Antoine-Joseph De Brackenier was the printer of the weekly “L’impartial bruxellois”. By 1797 after Austria finally made peace with France, the “Impartial bruxellois” carelessly fed the rumour that arrangements between the Directory and Francis II (New Austrian Emperor) would give the country to arch-duke Charles of Brabant after an arranged marriage with one of Louis XVI’s daughters. That was unacceptable for the Directory, so censorship stroke in the name of the idols: “Liberty”, “Equality” & “Fraternity”. By September 8 1797 De Brackenier was wanted. He escaped the police until October 26 1798 when his hiding place at a glazier’s house was denounced.

    Brackenier was one of the 34 printers to be deported by the French Republic under the Directory. In a span of 17 months, Brackenier will be transferred into 32 prisons, the last stop being the Isle of Ré. His memoirs, found by historian Jo Gérard[1] showed in detail what the life in these jails was and in particular in the Isle of Ré. For example, about the toilets:
    Those amenities spread a repulsive smell because their maintenance was worthless. The worst thing is that they were on the bulwark and it was sad to look at respectable, suffering and sickly oldies, painfully dragging with crutches, climbing the muddy and slippery embankment. Sometimes they did not manage to complete the climbs and midway up they were sinking into the clay. Exhausted by their efforts, they were crying for help.

    Brackenier also told about the covers on their berths which were filled with 200 to 300 louses or fleas and their food was “populated with insects”: “Too much to die, not enough to live.”

    The most important about Brackenier’s memoirs – said Jo Gérard – is his pastime: poetry. Brackenier wrote a lot of poems in French and in Dutch during his stay in the Isle of Ré. In these poems Gérard counted 7 occurances of the word “Belgium” in Dutch and 11 of them in French. Gérard claimed that it was proof that a patriotic feeling already drove Belgians long before 1830.

    Brackenier was released on April 2 1800 under Buonaparte. Back in Belgium he met his wife again whom he had not seen for 31 months  but learnt that in the meantime, he had lost 5 of his 6 children.

    1799-1815 : Done With Bonaparte

    Nabulione Buonaparte’s Caesarism finished off bleeding Belgium. Henri Guillemin showed in his TV shows for the Swiss TSR who Buonaparte really was.

    Brought up by “banksters” the Little Corporal summoned the main Parisian bankers in his office agreeing on loans at a 20 & 24% interest rate! On February 6 1800, Jean-Frederic Perregaux – a Swiss banker – suggested Buonaparte the creation of the “Banque de France” which would “strictly belong to private persons”. “Yet this bank will be called the ‘Banque de France’ but would by no means be a government bank.” By 1803, Buonaparte even gave that private bank the exclusive power of creating paper money. It’s theft in disguise, debt creation.

    Besides, the Napoleonic code was made up in 1804 and enforced in Belgium. It consolidated all the antisocial laws of the Revolution. Article 1781 stated that in case of a dispute between an employer and an employee, the word of the employer is taken on face value while the employee has to prove his point. Workers are discriminated by the law. The working class is humiliated, tramped upon!

    Buonaparte abused of the conscription. For the whole French period, 152, 880 Belgians were enrolled and 51,000 of them were killed.

    By 1810, in East Flanders (Département de la Lys), 408 of the 1,407 conscripts deserted. In the Ardennes, deserters were heroes. Women and children would shut up for them. They were sure to find support and protection anywhere. Denouncement was an abomination.

    Buonaparte put all Europe on fire! He was just a lawless, selfish, blood-thirsty maniac without ideals.
    Guillemin said: [/quote]I would like to find grandeur in him. I’ve been searching, you know. I’ve desperately been looking for words that […] would make him a bit less low. I found nothing![/quote]

    It should be conceded that Buonaparte stopped the religious persecution but with his usual perfidy. He offered a lot of compensation for the damage done to the church in order to “seduce” it. He wasn’t a believer at all. He realized: “This people [Belgians] is devout and under the influence of priests. Tomorrow, we’d need a long session with the church and to win the clergy over by some caress. Then we’d gain ground back.”

    In 1803, the “Little Corporal" obtained the Concordat with the weak Pope Pius VII. Just the 2nd organic article of it says: “The Holy See, in partnership with the Government, will create new French diocesan ridings”. This should be unacceptable for any self-respected Catholic.

    It was again a State interference into the Church’s business, i.e. a violation of the principle of “secularism” but by a statesman and not by a clergyman! Sadly, most priests fell prey. The most famous opponent to the Concordat was Corneille Stevens, of Wavre (Walloon Brabant), vicar of Namur. He had escaped to Germany during the 1798 persecution and went underground under Buonaparte’s Empire. He was wanted but never got caught!
    Stevenism is a movement named after him. It campaigned against any state interference into the Church’s business. It still exists, based in Wavre. They have now over 2,000 followers in Cameroon, with among others the Mission “SS Henri & Vincent de Paul” in Yaoundé. Yet the Concordat was meant to be fallible, so there was no reason for a schism. Stevens understood it himself and restored contact with the Church after Waterloo.
     1. op. cit.
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 15:22 by Echoes »


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    The Capitalist Era Misery

    Belgium’s fate after Buonaparte’s defeat was decided at the Chaumont Agreement of 1814. The Vonckists (the Liberal advocate of the census vote!) with support from Britain’s Foreign Minister Lord Castlereagh pleaded for a reunion with the Netherlands and won. Belgium was sold to capitalism and the outcome of it could still be felt a century later.

    Auguste De Winne published a book called “Door Arm Vlaanderen” (“Across Poor Flanders”) by 1901[1] . He noticed that in the “Belgian Match Company” (in English in the text) of Geraardsbergen in 1886:

    “Smokes of sulphur could only escape through the doors. Thousands of men, women, children passed there. There had been 5 or 6 year old children in the company! Their skeletons were decaying alive and after their deaths, only rot was cart along from the hospital to the graveyard.”

    Child basket makers worked from 4 am to 9.30 pm with a one hour break. Sometimes they were carried asleep to the workshop and woken up with water.

    In Ninove, twisters could work for 17/18h a day. Widows only ate potatoes (at breakfast, lunch and dinner), for bread was unaffordable.

    And then the terrible diseases! The Old regime vanquished the last Plague (1622 in Belgium) but the
    new era brought three devastating cholera pandemics to Belgium (7,984 dead in 1832/33; 22,041 dead in 1848/49; 43,400 dead in 1866), adding up to typhus which killed 400 people a year in Brabant, a typhus epidemic in 1846-47 killed 12,000 people. And the famous potato famine (1845-49) which devastated Ireland, also killed 50,000 people in Belgium [Belgium had overall ~4.5M inh., by then].

    This whole miserable “Civilization of Progress” reached its climax with the World War I Apocalypse.

    The clergy was slow to react. Belgium’s clergy was then heavily influenced by French theologian Félicité de Lamennais’ desastrous campaign for an agreement with the liberals. This union paved the way for the 2nd Brabantian Revolution of 1830. This time, it was driven by Liberals. So Belgium’s independence was no big change. Census voting was still enforced. A German prince was crowned King: Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. He was a Freemason (linked with the Grand Orient. This lodge only present and very powerful in France and Belgium is the only one to promote strict materialism and atheism). When the Dutch came, Leopold asked King of the French Louis-Philip for help. Louis-Philip just got to power after the July Revolution (1830-1848: when France was a parliamentary monarchy like Britain or present-day Belgium but with census vote). He was an Orleans, “cadet branch” of the Bourbons. His father Philip, aka “Philip Equality” and Grand Master of the Grand Orient, had voted for King Louis XVI’s death. Since then, the Orleans have always been linked to libertarianism in France. In return for his aid, Leopold married his daughter Louise of Orleans.

    Among reactionary social Catholic circles, intellectuals were thinking about social issues. Adam Muller was the first to reject Adam Smith’s liberalism and influenced Bishop Wilhelm von Ketteler and René de la Tour du Pin, champions of “corporatism”: advocating for some revival of the guild and their adaptation to new technology. Corporatism reached Belgium. Jules Herment of Bièvre, Ardennes (1875-1963) was a historian who published school textbooks. He wrote:
    The French Revolution of 1789 could have renewed the guilds but instead it suppressed them. It was a crime against workers.

    It all led up to Pope Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum” encyclical (1891) which assumed that since the guilds are no more, the state should take care of the people’s welfare. This Church Social Doctrine had an impact on Belgium, inspiring Father Adolf Daens who supported the exploited workers in Aalst. His story inspired novelist Louis-Paul Boon in 1971 and a biopic by Stijn Coninckx in 1993 (starring Jan Decleir, known as the Flemish Gérard Depardieu).

    The outcome of it was: Sunday Rest restored (1905), interdiction of Child Labour under age 14 (1914), trade union toleration (trade unions are no guilds but at least “intermediate bodies”) and restrictions to the right to strike lifted (i.e. end of the villainous “Le Chapelier” Law)[1921], paid holidays and 40 hour week (1936), National Health Service (1944), all announcing a 30-year era of restored prosperity (~1946-~1975), though at the expense of the rural community, their spirituality, nature and driven by the finally efficient  post-colonial mineral exploitation in Africa.
     1. 0 in Pascal Verbeken’s Arm Wallonië (De Bezige Bij, 2007)
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 15:23 by Echoes »


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    Belgian Migration to Wisconsin & other parts of the world and Flemish Migration to Wallonia

    Belgians have always migrated but before the 19th century, they did so because of wars and religious
    dissensions. So Peter Minuit was a Protestant Belgian of Tournai whose family had fled to Germany. He was known for purchasing Manhattan (~1626) and baptized it: “Novum Belgium”. 

    But the economy rarely was a push factor. In the 19th century, however, Belgians massively migrated to escape misery.

    Between 1820 & 1910, some 104,000 Belgians moved to the US, particularly to Wisconsin. Officially 4,647 of them settled there between 1833 & 1860 and by 2000, 57,808 Wisconsinites claim to have Belgian roots (1,08% of the state’s population). In the 1840’s, migrants from the Ardennes settled in the Ozaukee County, just North of Milwaukee calling a town Belgium. Between 1853 & 1856, many Belgians settled in the Door Peninsula on Lake Michigan, about 180km North of Milwaukee, around Green Bay. There you have towns like Brussels, Namur, Walhain, Rosiere, Grandlez (Grand-Leez in Belgium), Champion, etc: all referring to places in Brabant and the North of Namur (Hesbaye).

    The local Indian tribe – the Powatatomis (an Algonquin tribe) – got along very well with the Belgian migrants. They spoke a bit of French after the coming of trappers and missionaries in the previous centuries. They helped the Belgians cutting woods, making their cabins and cultivating the soil. It should be remembered that the massacre of Indians by the US government had already started.

    Belgians were involved in the War between States/American Civil War (1861-65). In 1861, the Union’s army was only made of volunteers but in July 1862, the Militia Act was revised enabling Pdt. Lincoln to enroll conscripts. Belgians then revived their Peasant War of 64 years before. In Ozaukee the army had to stop vandalism. In Green Bay, many Belgians rioted before Senator Howe’s house.

    At least 217 Belgians from the Door Peninsula joined the Union’s army (so excluding the Ozaukee County or Belgians of other states). At least 31 of them deserted. 10 were wounded. One killed on the battlefield. 17 died of diseases during their service, one in a Confederate jail. This draft riot preceded the major New York draft riot of 1863 which many Irish Catholics were a part of.

    Nicolas Neuville’s case should be remembered. Originally from Liernu, Namur, he settled in Brussels, Wisconsin. On Oct. 20 1864 he had been drafted and refused to join in. He took his rifle and tried to fly away but was shot down.

    Jacques Minsart got chronicle diarrhea in Alabama by the end of the war in 1965 and died from it a month after returning to Wisconsin. (source: Daniel Dellisse in “Les Belges du Wisconsin” Le Cri 2011)

    Ferdinand Haevers is a special case. He was Dutch-speaking originally from Sint-Agatha Rode, Brabant, emigrated in 1855 to New Orleans and joined the Confederate army (whether a volunteer or a conscript is unclear). He was captured & sent to an Ohio prison camp. He joined the Belgian Wisconsinites after the war. [nb][nb]

    Walloon was spoken in Wisconsin till at least 1975[1]. In the 21st century it is dying out (you still have some Walloon classes for motivated students but pretty local) but Belgian identity is still there. The “Belgian Days” is a Belgian-like kermess event held every year in July in Brussels, Wisconsin, with Giants’ processions, reminiscence of the Giants of Flanders.

    A comment on Youtube said by Brandon Bellin (2013)
    I'm Walloon from Wisconsin too! I'm 13 and I would like to learn it. Any suggestions?!

    Belgians also migrated to Canada: about 7,000 of them between 1901 & 1910, according to Anne Morelli; many of whom settled in St Boniface, Manitoba. Cornelius Jaenen, a French-speaking Canadian historian with Belgian heritage, made up a list of 333 Belgians who settled there between 1880 & 1914. St Boniface is 30% French-speaking. It is now part of Winnipeg. 4% Manitobans still speak French as 1st language. A district called “Belgian Town” was created in St Boniface and a village called “Bruxelles” in Southern Manitoba.

    Belgians also migrated to Russia, about 22,500 in 1910 according to Anne Morelli. Vladimir Ronin cites an article Mir Bozhiy of 1900 about some 300 Belgians from Charleroi working in the glass industry around St Petersburg. “They were pictured as privileged workers who worked hard, quickly and efficiently, and who could teach their Russian colleagues a thing or two.” Ronin also talks about 250 people migrating from Charleroi to Ekaterinoslav, present-day Ukraine in 1897.[2]

    Between 1850 & 1950, some 500,000 Flemings moved to Wallonia to find jobs in the Walloon coal mines, the metal or glass industry around Charleroi, La Louvière or Liege for a better life. Pascal Verbeken in his “Arm Wallonië” (Bezige Bij, 2007) showed how graveyards around these industrial Walloon places were full of Dutch names and many café names still show traces of the Flemish migrations. These workers could be “commuters” working in Wallonia all week long and returning to Flanders at weekends or settlers in the Walloon land. They were granted a cut in their train expenses.

    Worth noting is that the standard language down the mines was not French but Walloon. The Flemish migrants learned Walloon before learning French.

    From 1922 to 1930 and from 1946 to 1956, Southern Italian migrants came to our coal mines too. About 300,000 of them! Then came Maghrebis and Turks. They all contributed to our nation’s wealth.
     1. RTBF documentary shown in 2015
     2. (“Les ouvriers wallons dans la region de Petersbourg en 1900”)
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 15:25 by Echoes »


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    1861-1867 : The Mexican Campaign

    The Mexican Campaign was a project by French Emperor Napoleon III. Taking advantage of the ongoing American “War Between the States”, Napoleon III decided to set up a Catholic monarchy in Mexico, with arch-duke Maximilian of Habsburg at its head, as emperor. King Leopold I backed Napoleon III up, sending a 1,465-man Belgian legion led by Colonel Alfred Van der Smissen (there were 38,000 French, ~7,000 Austrians and ~4,000 Spaniards among others) and Maximilian's wife and future Empress of Mexico was Charlotte, Leopold I's daughter.
    The irony is that all these European monarchs were rather liberal. The idea was to set a regime that would pay for the debt that Mexico owe European powers. However the Empire was backed by Mexican Catholic conservatives against the reforms of the previous liberal administrations of Ignacio Comfort and Benito Juarez. One law that needed to be opposed was the Lerdo Law which confiscated lands from the Church, from Indian communities, from municipalities (the Mexican version of the Tragedy of Commons; the sales of the grazing lands) and peasant corporations. The Reform War of 1859 to 1862 followed by the European intervention made it provisionally impossible to implement this ignominious law. The Mexican Campaign by the European power was thus morally utterly just. Maximilian had the support from small "peones", in particular peasants of Amerindian heritage such as the Yaquis and the Mayas.

    At first the Europeans gained a lot of victories. Van der Smissen's main feat was the win at the Battle of the Loma on July 16 1865 (actually a revenge for the defeat of Tacambaro in April).

    However the end of the war in the US prompted President Andrew Johnson to back up the supporters of Juarez and by 1866, the opposition to Napoleon III obtained the retreat of all French troops. So that the Belgians who remained with their Empress could no longer do anything and Leopold called them back to. Charlotte got back to Europe alone too and made a diplomatic tour to find support elsewhere in Europe but to no avail and by 1867, her husband Maximilian was executed by the Juarista. She ended her life in 1927, reputedly delirious.

    According to French historian Alain Decaux, Empress Carlota/Charlotte had an affair with Van der Smissen while in Mexico and gave birth to an illegitimate child. That child would be born on Januay 21 1867 and then entrusted to a French adoptive family called Weygand. It seems that that child grew up to become the genial French general Maxime Weygand. The resemblance between adult Weygand and Van der Smissen is puzzling.

    The Mexican campaign was a regular topic in American Western films, in which Maximilian and Carlota are of course portrayed as cynical tyrants. Bette Davies impersonates Carlota in William Dieterle's "Juarez" (1939). However after the Fall of the Empire, Mexico fell again in climate of civil wars, electoral fraud leading up to the 34 years long dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz who implemented Juarez's anticlerical laws and against whom "peones" rebelled by 1910. Many Mexicans actually regretted the Fall of the Empire of Maximilian and Carlota.
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 15:29 by Echoes »


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    The Congo & Rwanda/Burundi
    Belgium never conquered the Congo. In 1885, King Leopold II created the so-called “Congo Free State” as his personal property. Belgian institutions did not have a say about it, let alone the Belgian people. Leopold handed the Congo over to Belgium in 1908.

    The colonization neither was a religious thing. Leopold’s family was liberal. The main architect of the colony was Albert Thys, a Freemason. He was the promoter of the Matadi-Leopoldville (present-day Kinshasa) railway and so responsible for the death of 1,932 workers, inspiring Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Henry Morton Stanley was a “Liberal Unionist” MP in Britain (the party that opposed to
    Gladstone’s Home Rule for Ireland but still allied with the Liberals). His brutal behavior was common
    knowledge. In five years Stanley signed more than 400 treaties with Congo chiefs on Leopold’s behalf,
    tricking them to hand over their land rights in return for paltry gifts.

    Auguste Roeykens[2] argued that Leopold wished to create a secular colony based on a secular school system. Reality forced him to deal with missionaries. Those latter preceded him. The “White Fathers” came from Brazzaville to settle in the North. It’s true that Leopold requested Pope Leo XIII by 1887 in order to call back all foreign missionaries and have them replaced by Belgian ones: another violation of the distinction between the Temporal and the Spiritual by a secular statesman and not by the Church. Missionaries were sort of humanitarian activists playing the naïve role that human right charities are playing today, did nice things (founding hospitals, schools, farms, sawmills, fighting malaria, fighting the slave trade, etc.) but were used as a moral backing for Western secularist presence in Africa.

    Though controversial he might be, we must admit that Léon Degrelle was right when he argued that:
    For 50 years, they [the politicians] have been unable to figure out the least political evolution. The Church, on the other hand, has trained hundreds of Black priests and bishops. Even a cardinal in neighbouring Kenya. The Belgian politicians were unable to train one Black second lieutenant nor one undersecretary in a ministry. They neither had any plan of progressive emancipation.

    It’s so true that the modern church is reaping the rewards of the old Catholic missionaries. Nowadays Congolese priests are serving in many Belgian parishes and many Congolese are studying theology in Belgian Universities. Congolese would never massively have accepted the Catholic faith had it been compromised with the apartheid regime of the colonial administration.

    In 1929, Georges Rémi, aka Hergé, published his comics “Tintin in the Congo”. By 2007, the “British Commission on Racial Equality” judged the comics racist and demanded its removal from book shops. Borders decided no longer to sell it in their childhood department. Egmont still publishes it with a warning about its possibly offensive character as much for the treatment of humans as for that of animals. The cruelty towards animals is sadly present in the album (though not in Hergé’s future works!). Hergé was very much influenced by Hollywood and in particular “Roughest Africa” (1923) which features Stan Laurel killing an elephant with dynamite. So did Tintin with a rhino in Hergé’s work. (Source: Jean-Loup de la Batelière in “Comment Hergé a écrit Tintin au Congo”, Bedestory)

    But the book is not racist. Hergé admitted to using some clichés of his milieu about Congolese but he caricatured everyone and in the end the villains in the book are White men. Tintin cares about sick Africans in a mission, helping them with medication… The book was published in the 1970’s in the Congo (then called Zaire). It was successful and did not spark any controversies.

    Congo emancipated in 1960, Rwanda & Burundi in 1961 (taken from Germany during WWI). Belgium
    lost its colonies … to Anglophone interests.
    Belgium turned in centralist PM Patrice Lumumba to Katanga separatist Moise Tshombe who executed him in 1961. Katanga was the richest state in the Congo and a chance for Belgium to retain its mineral resources. The USA acted via the UN by then (the USSR had left because the West did not recognized Mao’s China) and tried to kill both Lumumba and Tshombe. UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld was killed in a mysterious plane crash in South Rhodesia (present-day Zambia) later in 1961. Probably it involved Belgian agents. Still the UN invaded Katanga in 1963. In 1964, Tshombe came back as Prime Minister, this time of the whole Congo (!) and ~500 Belgian Paras jumped on Stanleyville (now Kisangani) against 5000+ rebels (Simbas) and save numerous lives (Operation Red Dragon). Mobutu came to power in 1965 and evolved from being a US to a France & Belgium ally.

    On May 19 1978, the French Foreign Legion jumped on Kolwezi, Katanga after rebels took control. The French intended to save Mobutu’s regime. For the Belgians, the aim was just to save European lives. It led to a diplomatic crisis between both countries. Belgian C130’s were denied a flight over French controlled territories, id est all their former colonies. In Kolwezi, the French had no medical assistance, Belgians had to care for their wounded. A retired Belgian Colonel who landed on Kolwezi told me that the Legion killed civilian women and that the Belgians were shot at by them.

    The film “La legion saute sur Kolwezi” by Raoul Coutard (1980) is a French propaganda film praising the Foreign Legion and belittling the Belgians’ role in the operation. The film starred Bruno Cremer, later famous for impersonating Georges Simenon’s Maigret on TV. Cremer happened to be a Fleming from Lille, with a Belgian mother and whose father acquired Belgian citizenship.

    In Rwanda, the White Fathers evangelized the country. Rwanda consists of three ethnics: the Hutus, the Tutsis and the pigmy-related Twas. The Tutsis had come by the 12th century. The Hutus had been there long before. Two Tutsis clans – the Abanyiginya and the Abega – set up a monarchy and made the rest of the population believe they were heavenly creatures. The evangelization by the White Fathers made the Hutus realize they were not inferior to those tribes. “We are all equal before God.” The film “Hotel Rwanda” implies that the clash between Hutus and Tutsis were caused by the Belgian protectorate. It’s a lie. After the work of the White Fathers, Belgium set democracy in Rwanda between 1959 & 1961, which ultimately gave the power to the larger ethnic, the Hutu.

    So in 1961, some Tutsis escaped to Uganda including the former monarchy. In 1986, the Ugandan Tutsis supported a coup by Yoweri Museveni in Uganda. In 1988 they created the RPF, led by Paul Kagame, eager to win Rwanda back, helped by Uganda, the USA, Canada, the UK and Israel.

    In 1990 the RPF started a war with Rwanda (even with Burundi too). Belgium supported the Hutus along with France & Congo and stopped them. But then due to the influence of some pro-Tutsi Liberal and Freemasonic networks and the press (Le Soir, La Libre Belgique), Belgium switched to the Tutsi side and had UN soldiers under General Dallaire’s orders, a Quebecker openly biased towards the RPF[3].

    By 1994, the attack on Pdt Habyarimana’s plane near Kigali, surely ordered by Kagame, sparked a huge genocide, 800,000 dead all ethnics combined[4]. 10 Belgian UN soldiers were killed by Hutu militias, the next day. Dallaire witnessed their lynching but shut up! while Hutu generals could have stopped the massacre (source: Bernard Lugan in “Un genocide en question”).
    Kagame took power in summer 1994 and by 1996 set up the invasion of neighbouring Congo making another genocide in Hutu refugee camps around Bukavu or Goma (2 million dead in 1997 & many more women raped) and getting grip on the Congo mineral resources (such as coltan which our mobile phones, e.g. are made of), with giant Anglo companies like American Mineral Field, Canada’s Barrick Gold or South-Africa’s De Beers (hence Nelson Mandela’s role).
     2. « L'initiative africaine de Léopold II et l'opinion publique belge », ARSOM 1963
     3. source: Pierre Péan in “Blancs menteurs, noire fureur”, Mille et une nuit, 2005
     4. Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira also got killed in the plane, along with one of his ministers, staff members of the Rwandan President and the French pilots and crew members
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 15:36 by Echoes »


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    Georges “Hergé” Rémi: The Boy Scout & Comics Master

    Georges Rémi, aka Hergé, was born in 1907 in Brussels. By 1920 he joined a secular Indianist scout troop but in 1921 moved to a Catholic one. He always had fond memories of his scouting years:
    With scouting the world started opening up for me. The contact and respect for nature, resourcefulness!”
    Also the respect for the given word/promise keeping and faithfulness in friendship are recurrent motive in his work as he often explained in interviews; principles that also comes from his scouting years.  Rémi himself brought Indianism to his new troop, which is a movement started in 1902 by Ernest Thompson Seton who advocated for an emulation of the Redskin lifestyle: their sense of honour, of community and closeness to nature. Belgian scout troops are still predominantly indianist, much more than the French ones.

    Hergé’s first comics showed this redskin idealism. Already in his scouting years, he wrote comics about America (1923), reworked into “Tintin in America” (1932). In “Tintin in America”, Hergé denounced the rapacity of American oil companies despoiling lands from Indians at low cost. This was inspired to him by Buster Keaton’s The Paleface (1922), a rare pro-Indian film of early Hollywood. His depiction of the American society is pretty critical. He, e.g., referred to the famous 1905 Meat Scandal: the Chicago slaughterhouses, with its denatured mislabeled meat.

    He also bashed a certain US irreligious and money-obsessed elite. So Tintin is chased by a character wishing to convert him to “the new neo-Judeo-Buddho-Islamo-American religion whose dividends are the highest in the world”. Hergé understood that the American elite was not religious, unlike many think. The common people are. This quote shows a religion which is devoid of substance through syncretism (a mix of religions that have nothing in common) and all that concretely remains is money, so materiality. Even today, Hergé is still ahead of his time.

    “Tintin in America” also denounced racism towards the Blacks (radio announcing 44 black men being lynched) and mocks the omnipresence of publicity (a statue promoting cans).

    Hergé first published his comics in the very reactionary Catholic newspaper “Le vingtième siècle”. One of his colleagues there was Léon Degrelle, future Nazi apologist and Waffen SS, so a controversial figure. Hergé often had to justify about working with Degrelle at that newspaper but nobody then could have guessed what Degrelle would become. It was his honour to never give in to such blackmail. Hergé was aged 23 and Degrelle 24.
    At that moment Degrelle was just a devout Catholic journalist, covering the Cristeros War in Mexico, in 1930. He gave a detailed report of the massacre of Catholic peones by the anti-clerical government of the sinister Plutarco Calles (advised by Joseph Retinger, future initiater of the EU): about 12,000 victims (between 1924 & 29) & a very morbid display of hangings on electric poles.

    Belgian Catholics were very much in touch with the situation in Mexico. The Belgian Catholic Youth of Leuven published in 1928 a book about the Mexican religious persecution called “La tragédie mexicaine jusqu’au sang” (“The Mexican Tragedy to the Blood”) prefaced by Mgr José Maria Gonzalez y Valencia, arch-bishop of Durango:
    We can’t help being touched by the Belgian Catholic Youth’s project. Presenting martyred Mexico is presenting true Mexico. Exposing the series of its heroic deeds and its sufferings is telling the veritable history of Mexico
    Also Miguel Agustin Pro was a priest who had fled Mexico in 1914 under Carranza’s religious persecution. He traveled along and landed in Enghien, Belgium in order to finish his studies in theology and to start studying sociology. He was ordained there in 1925. The Enghien monastery had already welcomed exiled French priests after yet another (!) religious persecution in France (1901-1904). He served as a worker-priest in the Charleroi coal mines, a milieu that had been seriously affected by Marxism which had turned decent religious feasts into mere carnivals in which beer was overflowing (thereby preparing the mass to consumption society). In 1926, he came back to Mexico. In 1927 he was executed by Calles for supposed involvement in an assassination attempt against General Obregon. There were neither a trial nor evidence against him. Graham Greene honoured him in the prologue of his “Lawless Roads” (1939).

    Degrelle attended clandestine masses with the Cristeros but also visited the government’s palaces, saw “their drinking orgies”, enough for a book: “My Adventures in Mexico” (1932).

    In passing, he also helped Hergé by sending him some American comics that he found in Mexico City such as George Herriman’s “Krazy Kat” or George McManus’ “Bringing Up Father”, about Irish Catholic ethnics in the US in the 20th century. That’s how Hergé started drawing comics with cartoon bubble, for the first time in Europe, a point of no return. Until then he did it the old way, with the texts written beneath the drawings. That was how European comics had started!

    Degrelle’s biographer, Luiza Narvaez, the Duchess of Valencia,[2] claimed that until 1932, Degrelle only dreamed of a spiritual revolution in Belgium. That means that by then he had not espoused the national-socialist ideology yet. In 1928, he investigated Belgian “slums”, a bit what Orwell also did at the same time (“Down and Out in Paris & London”). He ended his book “Les taudis” (“The Slums”) saying he would “cast bricks” at all capitalists exploiting this misery.

    Luiza Narvaez was known as the “Red Duchess”, which gives a lot of credibility to her biography. She says in the preface to her book:
    “History cannot contend with conclusions drawn from mere flounce or impulsive resentment. It claims to denude facts with the archivist’s objectivity […]. Defeated Napoleon after Waterloo was the object of outrage [rightly so!]that would make people laugh today. Someday Hitler’s or Mussolini’s case will also be examined by biographers who would have stripped their soul of biased and too violent passions before denuding the documents of the time.”
    What impressed her about Degrelle is how he was not afraid to make very socially-oriented speeches in her family’s house (in 1939), filled with aristocrats, so the former ruling class. The Duchess recalled:
    he was charming and delicate with anyone, especially with the common people. Mostly his social spirit stroke us. Degrelle was socially “left-wing.” At our table, in front of dukes, duchesses, generals, he made no bones about advocate with a stentorian voice for the necessity of establishing a genuine social justice. He condemned with an amusing ferocity the “greed and idiocy of the ruling classes.” He said: “if you don’t give the people rewarding salaries, decent houses, leisure, the chance to rise up, the very clear sentiment that work is a dignity and that a man is respectable insofar as he works, your revolution will be a failure, your men will have died for nothing, other fights will break out and which you’ll maybe dominate much less easily.

    Robert Brasillac in his “Léon Degrelle et l’avenir de Rex” claimed:
    “it’s rather telling that we find in Rexism [Degrelle’s movement] ideas that were dear to La Tour du Pin, 19th century traditionalists, the “Action française” and today Salazar […], much more than any link with Italian fascism or national-socialist racism.”

    Brasillac noted that corporatism was on Rex’s agenda. Actually, corporatism had been recuperated by most dictators of the 1920’s/30’s but Hitler’s and Mussolini’s guilds had nothing to do with the medieval guilds. The latter were free, bottom up created as a counter-power against the monarchs. Hitler’s guilds were state controlled and top down created by the power. Salazar’s guilds were perhaps the closest to what medieval guilds were. So Degrelle’s partnership with a totalitarian regime is a huge mistake from a Catholic viewpoint. Of course he realized how capitalism brought misery to the most and that communism was no solution to it but neither was nationalism. For true Christians the nation is a secular illusion. The Church is meant to be a counter-power to nations. And his iconizing Buonaparte all his life proves if need be that he totally missed the point.

    Hergé on the other hand mistrusted the Axis Powers. His “King Ottokar’s Sceptre” (1938) is a huge satire of the Anschluss, id est the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany.

    The main reason why the Left hated Hergé was his pre-War Pacifism, a so-called “Municher” after the 1936 Munich Agreement (the Neutrality policy of King Leopold III). The 1939 version of “Tintin and the Land of Back Gold” showed how Tintin was terrified at the idea of a war. The 1951 final version of the album has kept that idea. Hergé was right to be a pacifist when you see the amount of destruction that the war has caused. Remember that pre-war Pacifists are never heroes! Never! On the contrary they are always vilified after the said war. Whether they be 1930’s Pacifists or 2003 pre-Iraq War, 2011 pre-Lybia War or present-day Pacifists towards Islam against the big war soon to come. The British and French government waged war against Hitler and not the other way round.                                     

    Sceptics noted his occupation at “Le Soir” while the newspaper was owned by the occupant. Only
    many people worked likewise for institutions owned by the occupants (tram drivers, e.g.). It does not mean they were Nazis but they had to keep on working to earn their bread. It was Hergé’s argument. It makes sense. What would these sceptics have done under such dramatic circumstances?

    But at the “Liberation” he spent two days in jail after what is called “L’Épuration” (“The Cleansing”).
    Victors sued hundreds of “reactionary” intellectuals or authors on the allegations that they were
    “collaborators”, which could have been justified for some but by no means for the majority of them.
    An example is Félicien Marceau, a friend of Hergé’s and also a “Municher”. Marceau was a war reporter. One of his documentaries showed sympathies for the civilian victims of an American bombing in Brussels. At the Liberation this was negatively seen because you could not say anything against the “American Liberators”. The primate of Belgium Cardinal Van Roey said about all allied bombings:
    bombs, are blindly dropped, at random, without discernment, over many square kilometers of built conurbations. It is patent - we see it and state it - that the necessary précautions are not taken while possible to. How then justify such conduct in the face of reason and human conscience? […]In the name of Belgium I request the necessary consideration for the lives and homes of these citizens. Otherwise the civilised world will someday notice with horror the unheard treatment inflicted on an innocent and loyal country.
    (Paris-Soir, May 23 1944)
     Marceau was sentenced to 15 years of penal labour. He fled to Italy and by 1959 General De Gaulle cleared him and granted him the French citizenship. Marceau accepted it and by 1975 was elected as a member of the “Académie française”, the year of his book “The Body of My Enemy” was turned into a film by Henri Verneuil with dialogues by Michel Audiard and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo: a magnificent socio-economic satire in the French Flanders.

    The Blue Lotus is an important step in Hergé’s work. He started to inform more and with more respect for other culture. He befriended with Chinese artist Zhang Chongren –  The chaplain of Chinese students in Leuven put Hergé in contact with him – who inspired him a character in his story. Zhang provided him with information about many aspects of Chinese reality of the time: culture, history, the aesthetics and the political situation of China (including The 1931 Mukden Incident in Manchuria which he showed - rightly so - as a false flag operation set up by Japan to start the invasion of China).

    A dialogue of the Blue Lotus goes:
    Zhang: “I thought all White devils were bad like those who massacred my grandfather and grandmother a long time ago. My father told me it was during the War of Righteous and Harmonious Fists.”

    Tintin: “Oh yeah, the Boxer Rebellion… But no, Zhang, all White people are not bad but peoples know each other very badly. So many Europeans figure out that Chinese are all cunning and cruel and wear pigtails, are always inventing tortures and eating rotten eggs and swallows’ nests. Those same Europeans fervently believe that all Chinese women with no exception have tiny feet and even now little Chinese girls suffer agonies with bandages designed to prevent their feet developing normally. Finally, they are convinced that Chinese rivers are full of unwanted babies, thrown in when they are born.” Zhang reacted: “Haha, how funny are the inhabitants of your country!”

    In a few words, Hergé shows what Edward Said theorized as Orientalism; a fantasized Orient made up by the West in order to legitimize the conquest of it. In China’s case, it had started with the Opium Wars but at present it still works true for Islam land; it shows if need be that Hergé was no racist.

    The “Seven Crystal Balls” (1943) exposes another aspect of Orientalism: the Western cultural
    conquest. On the very first page, Tintin is on a train reading an article about an expedition in Peru. A
    good-mannered passenger sitting next to him noticed:
    “It’ll come to a bad end.[…] This mummy story… Remember Tutankhamun, young man! Think of all those Egyptologists who mysteriously died after opening this Pharaoh’s Tomb. You’ll see, the same thing will happen to those who this Inca’s violated the tombstone. So why don’t we leave these people alone? What would we say if the Egyptians or the Peruvians came to our land to open to tombs of our Kings? What would we say?”

    Hergé is here referring to the “Curse of the Pharaoh” myth, following Howard Carter’s expedition in 1923, discovering Tutankhamun’s tomb, several members of that expedition mysteriously dying in the few following years. But more importantly he’s making us reflect on this Western thirst to steal other regions’ cultural heritage: a topic he already explored in The Broken Ear (1935).

    Georges “Hergé” Rémi is now world widely seen as a genius of comics but few know Tintin was born to a reactionary Catholic milieu. 230,000,000+ copies of Tintin albums have been sold worldwide, translated in 100+ languages. A massive success!  5 million French saw the Spielberg film adaptation.

    Film director Philippe de Broca made a solid tribute to Tintin in “That Man From Rio” (1964), starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Françoise Dorléac & Belgian actor Jean Servais. The film made 4,800,626 admissions! It’s full of references to the Adventures of Tintin and very much the spirit of it : Belmondo finds his best allies among the poor workers (a shoeshine) while the rich’s arrogance is exposed with the Pharaonic modernism of Brasilia, at that time still in building.

    In turn Hergé took back the idea of an artificially created Brasilia-like modernist city in Latin America in his “Tintin & the Picaros” (1976): Tapiocapolis, created by dictator General Tapioca.

    In 1965 Broca made another film with references to Hergé: “Les tribulations d’un Chinois en Chine” (“Up to His Ears”) based on Jules Verne’s novel, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Ursula Andress and Jean Rochefort.

    General De Gaulle famously claimed: “My only international political rival is Tintin: the little one who isn’t afraid of the Big ones.” Australian cyclist Cadel Evans admitted to being big fan.

    “Tintin in the Tibet” (1960) is seen as his masterpiece, if just for its realism. At the start, Captain Haddock confronts a cow in the middle of a road in New Delhi, downtown. That is still true till date! Hergé teaches young Euros that cows are sacred in India. An Indian friend told the author how he is still very popular in India. Giving the Yeti caring traits was a kind of “expiation for all the animals he had “massacred” in “Tintin in the Congo” as he said to Numa Sadoul (already in the “Cigars of the Pharaoh”, Tintin cared for a sick elephant).

    In 1975 Hergé granted an interview with Numa Sadoul for a book: “Tintin & moi”. Tom McCarthy[3] quotes Hergé:
    “The economy leads the world, financial and industrial powers condition our way of life. This gentlemen are not wearing a hood when they meet in their boards of directors but the outcome is the same as if they did. Producing is their first aim. […] Producing even if you have to soil rivers, the sea & the sky for that; even if you have to destroy plants, forests & animals. Producing and conditioning us to make us consume more & more cars, deodorants, shows, sex, tourism.”
    Sadoul asked him whether Tintin was “against consumption society”.
    Hergé: “Of course! Tintin always sided with the oppressed.”

    McCarthy argued that Hergé reinvented himself as a left-winger in a very left-wing era but this is
    definitely the social Christian ethic that defined Hergé most of his life. McCarthy does not seem to realize that right-wingers can also be wealth-sharers and sincerely help the poor and the oppressed.

     1. Jean-Loup de la Batelière, in “Comment Hergé a écrit Tintin en Amérique », Bédéstory
     2. in “Degrelle Told Me”
     3. Tintin & the Secret of Literature, 2006
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 15:41 by Echoes »


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    The Flemish Movement Fallacy & Link with the European Union

    The Flemish separatist movements are essentially bourgeois movements from universities, hence they don’t represent the common Fleming.

    An important step in the movement was made between 1966 & 70 with the University of Leuven riots, in May 68. It preceded the French May 68 and its famous slogan: “it’s forbidden to forbid”. It’s essentially a left-wing permissive hedonistic movement against the “dictatorship” of clerics at the University (one professor who had tried his best to keep the University united was the famous Father Georges Lemaître, the founder of the Big Bang Theory). Michel Clouscard described the French May 68 as a step in America’s attempt (started by the Marshall Plan) to make Europe accept its consumerist model & culture against the old traditional model based on merit & saving, then represented by General De Gaulle. It opened a space for a big new market based on desire and frivolousness (the entertainment or fashion business, commercial trusts on sex, drugs & games,…). Class struggle does not only work for production but also for consumption.

    The new American pop culture & music reached Belgium very soon in the sixties. Belgium was instrumental in the rising of British progressive rock band Pink Floyd. In 1968, the Dutch-speaking broadcaster BRT made a 30’ long show aired on the French-speaking channel RTB on Feb. 27 and on the BRT on March 31. It’s in Belgium that David Gilmour appeared for the very first time on TV. In 1969 Belgium organized a 5-day long hippy festival (not for free) in Amougies near the Kluisberg on the Walloon side. Paris had previously turned down the offer. Pink Floyd was one of the main guests of the festival, co-organized by Frank Zappa. Zappa and Pink Floyd made a 20’ long improvisation on Barrett’s “Interstellar Overdrive” at Amougies. Then in 1972, the RTBF coproduced the “Live at Pompeii” show with French & German producers. The show established Pink Floyd as a supergroup.

    Gert Embrechts’2012 film “Allez Eddy” shows how this new liberal model works. In 1975 American pop music penetrated a traditional Flemish Catholic village – via women (the film shows) – (how good this sound might be, it partly alienated Belgians from their own roots) and a French businessman uses cycling’s popularity in Eddy Merckx’s days to promote the start of a big department store in that village. He’s organizing a small cycle race which appeals to kids (sport is an element of soft power). The department store itself is destructive of the old economic model based on family businesses, represented by a butchery in the film (there is a cruel scene in the film in which a pig slaughtering is hinted at) but it’s also valid for bakeries. This new department store in the film sparked a “Flemish” movement which is directed towards the French and not towards the Walloons.

    The Flemish separatist students of the Leuven University in the 1970 crisis also showed love for
    America as suggested by their slogan: “Walen Go Home!” In the name of Flemish identity, they write
    their slogans partly in English, the idiots!
    It should be remembered that Walloons never imposed French in Flemish school and administration, unlike some might think. The Walloons never spoke French in their majority until the 1960’s. They spoke Walloon dialects. French was imposed in Flemish schools by the local bourgeoisie which was Francophone but NOT Walloon. So the same phenomenon occurred in the Walloon land. When Belgium as we know it today, was created in 1830, French was only spoken by a bourgeois elite whether they be in Flanders or in the Walloon land but not by the largest number on either side. 

    The connivance between the Flemish separatists and the French “68’ers” held true to the 21st century. Since 2009 the N-VA Flemish party – emanation of the 68 riots – is part of a bicephalous party at the European parliament in Strasburg called the Green/EFA (European Free Alliance). The Green party was led by Daniel Cohn-Bendit until 2014, the German leader of the French May 68, strong advocate of Europe and fervent liberal.

    The EFA consists of separatist parties from across Europe: from Catalunya, Scotland (SNP), Cornwall, Savoy, Bavaria, Veneto, Friesland, Lappland, Occitania, the Basque Country, South Tyrol, etc.

    The aim is to create a Europe of regions in which nations are gone and (rich) regions would talk straight with Europe’s institutions. The N-VA does NOT campaign for Flemish independence but for its direct submission to European rule.

    Therefore the Association of Cross Border Region – supported by the EU commission and working with the Euro Parliament – perceives to unite regions beyond national borders of present-day member states. There are many of them on the Eastern borders of Germany. Catalunya is across the French/Spanish border; Estremadura & Alentejo astride on Spain & Portugal; etc. The current national borders should be reduced into mere “administrative” boundaries.

    "Consequently, the goal of cooperation in border and cross-border regions is not to create a new administrative level, but instead to develop cooperative structures, procedures and instruments that facilitate the removal of obstacles and foster the elimination of divisive factors. The ultimate objective is to transcend borders and reduce their importance to mere administrative boundaries." (p.8)

    Belgium is heavily affected by this phenomenon. The “Greater region” is one such Euroregion that unites Wallonia, Luxembourg, Lorraine, Rhineland-Palatinate & Saarland, which roughly corresponds to a plan by Franklin D. Roosevelt by 1942/43 as explained by Anthony Eden in his memoirs “The Reckoning” (1965): “Roosevelt made the project that he exposed to Mr. Lyttelton a few months before. It was the creation of a state called Wallonia out of the Walloon part of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Alsace-Lorraine and a part of Northern France.”[1]
    The current president of the ACBR is Karl-Heinz Lambertz, a key figure of the German-speaking Belgian community. Among his predecessors is Wolfgang Schauble, current German Finance Minister.

    Federalism is a good thing but here it is a red herring, the EU being much more centralist than states are. Nations like Belgium have lost the power to mint money to the European Central Bank. Hence we create debt and sell our heritage like our gold. In 1991 Belgium had 940 tons of gold, the richest reserve per capita. In 1998 only 296 tons remained. We have also lost our defence policy to NATO and Eurocorps, our foreign policy to the “High representative” of the EU.

    And since the 1992 Maastricht Treaty nation states no longer have any control on capital movement. The article – now: art. 63 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union - states:
    […] all restrictions on the movement of capital between Member States and between Member States and third countries shall be prohibited.

    The whole thing works within the framework of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. European integration is an American plan and was meant right from the start to be a Euro-Atlantic Union. The “founding fathers” of the EEC were all paid by the State Department.: Belgium’s Paul-Henri Spaak, Italy’s Alcide De Gasperi, France’s Jean Monnet & Robert Schuman or Germany’s Konrad Adenauer[2].

    Since 1992 the Transatlantic Policy Network has lobbied for a TTIP. This group is or used to be supported by Coca-Cola, JP Morgan, Michelin, BASF, Boeing, Bertelsmann (RTL, National Geographic, ...), Walt Disney Cie, Facebook, etc. Its chairwoman is Erika Mann (German SPD).

    The “Years of Lead”, Massacre of Brabant, Operation Gladio & “Islamic Terrorism”

    From 1969 to 1987 Italy was shaken by series of terror attacks killing 491 innocent civilians overall (Piazza Fontana attack in 1969, Bologna Station attack in 1980). These were the “Years of Lead”. The perpetrators were neo-fascist groups or far left groups like the Brigate Rosse in Italy, “Rote Armee Fraktion” in Germany, “Action directe” in France or the “Cellules communistes combattantes” in Belgium. In 1985 a bomb attack by the CCC in Brussels killed two firefighters.

    On August 3 1990 Italy’s PM Giulio Andreotti confirmed the existence of secret NATO organization which had been active in Italy since 1945. As preparation a resistance in case of a Soviet invasion - It was the Stay Behind network or Gladio -  weapons were kept in secret caches in woods or cemeteries in all Europe but were used for terrorist attacks by both far right & far left groups (all manipulated by NATO & intelligence services). Italians called it the “strategia della tensione”. 

    The Belgian Government discovered the existence of the secret army on Nov. 7 1990 and the MP’s
    on Oct. 23 & 24 under presidency of Raymond Van Calster, head of the SGR (Belgian military
    intelligence service).[3]
    Between 1982 & 1985 Belgium was hit by a series of terror attacks, mainly in department stores, mainly in Brabant, killing 28 people overall. 30 years later, the perpetrators are still unknown.
    They seem to have been members of the “neo-Nazi” militia called “Westland New Post”: tough guys trained to kill. They had recognized the department stores prior to the attacks, etc. They were so enthusiastic about defending the West against Communism and already against Islam. When the Gladio affair broke out they got it they had been fooled but it was too late.

    Sibel Edmonds argued that Operation Gladio B is an FBI codename referring to several meetings
    between US intelligence and Al Qaeda via Turkey, operating in Azerbaijan (e.g.) prior to 9/11. Sibel
    Edmonds shows that Belgium having NATO’s headquarters  in Mons & Brussels makes it the
    centre for Gladio B and hence also for “Islamic terrorism”. The far-left terrorism from the 70’s & 80’s has been replaced by a pseudo Muslim one while the far-right one is still there.

    Westerners are encouraged to hate Islam as it is the last religion massively rejecting consumerism and capitalism: love for goods and wealth. Formerly Catholicism also did but the modern church rather encourages followers to adapt to the modern world. But also Islamophobia legitimizes Israel’s occupation of Palestine, aiming at the 1982 Oded Yinon Plan for a Greater Israel, and encourages the Western Jewish migration to Israel – the Alya: 285 Belgian Jews migrated to Israel in 2015 according to the April 24 2016 news report of RTBF.

    So on May 24 2014, an attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels killed 4 people. For mainstream media it was an “Islamic terrorist attack”. However among the victims were Emanuel & Myriam Riva who had previously worked for Nativ, an Israeli intelligence agency encouraging the Alya. The crime at the Jewish Museum was probably no terrorist attack but a motivated assassination.
    The November attacks in Paris killed 130 people. Two perpetrators were Belgian. The attacks are presented in mainstream media as an “Islamic attack”. Yet the murderers seemed not Muslim at all. They were drug addicts (Captagon), owned a pub in Molenbeek, Brussels, regularly frequented gay-friendly bars and most of all they acted as hit men (a documentary by France TV – Envoyé special – showed that the perpetrators were talking money the day before; if you want to die for God, you don’t care about money). Besides one of the weapons used come from the American company “Century Arms” based in Florida. An article from the “Jewish Floridian” on October 29 1971 showed that the Sucker family who owned the company received the Shalom Award in Tel Aviv, Israel:

    Terrorism is a symptom of the youth crisis that had started in the fifties: the “Rebel without a cause” type – the James Dean myth :  the immature teen revolting against the conservative patriarchs, while patriarchy remained an obstacle to easy money and blindless consumption (this rebellion had already produced the Brigate Rosse type); in a way, they are useful idiots to capitalism. These terrorists are no mature 40-year old Islamic theologians, able to sacrifice their life for a superior ideal. They are violent teenagers or post-teenagers, full of testosterone, who cannot think for long term aims. They put their lives at risk, for adrenalin, because they are not aware that life is no video game. They cannot figure they might get killed tomorrow or get in jail.

    The liberal education model of the 1970’s is much to blame for it. Teens feel that no hold bar.  Teachers have lost much of their authority since the riots of 1968. Left-wing parties want to scrap the teaching of Latin in the French-speaking community (cultural atrophy institutionalized). Walloon children have the choice between Dutch or English as 2nd language at primary school while Dutch was mandatory until the 21st century (which is a surrender to the American culture, theatres in the French-Speaking part screen 8 American films in 10). Belgium is one of the first countries to legalize weed or gay marriage. The youth is more interested in the latest ipods and Play Station’s than in studying or working.  The March 22 Brussels attack were suicide attacks by perpetrators who were hunted men. How horrible these acts are, we should remember that we also helped bomb innocent civilians in Lybia, Mali or Syria in a wider scale: state terrorism.

    Decades of opulence have led up to this situation. The soon to come energy crisis will lead us to a harder world, in which we will need get back to more discipline, our agriculture will come back, our workers will have to find/create new social protection and the population will naturally tend closer towards universalist religions (whichever it will be) because we will get closer to the land.
     1. (source: François Kersaudy in “De Gaulle et Roosevelt : le duel au sommet” Perrin, 2004)
     2. revealed by Ambrose Evans Pritchard in the Daily Telegraph on Sept. 19 2000
     3. Daniele Ganser in “NATO's Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe”
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 15:43 by Echoes »


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    For whom it may concern.

    I started typing that about a year ago, trying to rediscover my own identity, sort of a crisis (it took me a long time but a little everyday was fine and it was already almost completed, end of last year). I had an important appointment in Liege back then and the history of the Liege Principality all of a sudden interested me. So I started on a rediscovery of my own country. Perhaps I made a lot of mistakes. I'm not a historian but weverything I'm saying is criticizable and I admit I'm biased on some things ...

    Also I tried to shorten the text as much as possible because it's just a text on pc and it can be exhausting to read long texts on the Internet. So that's why perhaps some key events are being left out.

    Also I could have posted that on a blog but I guess my blog would never get as many views as Velorooms. So since it's not exactly about cycling (though I referred to it a few times), I hope I'm not annoying anybody.
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  • « Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 15:51 by Echoes »


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