ABSTRACT

Belgium is perceived as a quintessentially divided country. This chapter presents a brief overview of the decisive periods, Belgium has gone through in its 2000 years of written history and to its religious dimension. The government of the Provinces that today form Belgium was in foreign hands until the revolution of 1830 and the foundation of the Belgian state. The most striking equilibrium is the equal number of Flemish and Francophone cabinet ministers in the federal government. In historiography the first years after successful Belgian revolution of 1830 have been qualified as a period of unionism. Belgium had to pay a high territorial price for its international recognition in 1839. It has developed for historical reasons a clear Catholic profile. Under Dutch rule, the Belgian self-definition was finally coined referring to its cultural and religious heritage. Whereas the Flemish movement has attracted most attention, given its insistence on linguistic rights and cultural autonomy, the Walloon movement is crucial as well.