xviii History. BELGIUM.
a fief to his daughter Clara Isabella Eugenia on the occasion of her
marriage with Albert, Archduke of Austria, the Spanish governor.
Under their régime the wounds which the country had suffered
during the war began to heal. The princely pair exerted themselves
in every way to promote the welfare of the provinces under their
care; industry and commerce once more flourished, and the ad-
ministration of justice was reorganised. Their religious zeal, of
strong anti-reformation type, was displayed in the foundation of
new monasteries, colleges, and other Roman Catholic institutions,
put at the same time materially contributed to the development of
art. Numerous churches, in the gorgeous but somewhat degraded
taste of the period, were built and decorated with brilliant altar-
pieces. The Archduke and his wife, moreover, rendered the country
an important service by securing the services of Rubens, the great-
est of Belgian painters, who in 1609 had made up his mind to
settle in Italy. They appointed him their court-painter, permit-
ting him at the same time to reside at Antwerp, the centre of
After Albert’s death without issue (1621) the Netherlands re-
verted to Spain, which during the wars of the latter half of the 17th
cent. was obliged to cede many of its provinces (Artois, Thion-
ville, etc.) to France. In 1714 these provinces were awarded by
the Peace of Rastadt to the House of Austria.
The ‘Austrian Netherlands’ were wisely and beneficently govern-
ed by the archdukes of Austria, who held the office of Stadtholder,
and for a brief period the glorious days of the 3urgundian régime
appeared to have returned. The governors of that period, especially
under the Empress Maria Theresa, are still gratefully remembered
by the Belgians. The opposition which the reforms of the Emp.
Joseph II. encountered at length (in 1789) gave rise to the ‘Bra-
bant Revolution’, headed by Van der Noot and Vonk, but the inde-
pendence thus attained lasted for a single year only, and under
Emp. Leopold I. the Austrians again took possession of the country.
This revolution, however, paved the way for the interference of
the French, whose aid had been invoked by the ecclesiastical and
the liberal parties. In 1794 the whole of Belgium was occupied
by French Republicans, who divided itinto nine departments. In
4814 the French supremacy was finally shaken off.
The Treaty of London, of 28th June, 1814, and the provisions
of the Congress of Vienna, of 7th June, 1815, united Belgium and
Holland under the name of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and
elevated William of Orange, son of the former stadtholder of the
Seven Provinces, to the newly-constituted throne. Belgium was
again severed from her constrained union with Holland by the
Revolution of 1830. On 40th Nov. the provisional government
summoned a national congress, by which the Duc de Nemours, son
of Louis Philippe, was invited to become the sovereign of Belgium.
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K 29612:[A,1,7b], Collectie Stad Antwerpen, Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience
Baedeker, Karl, Belgium and Holland: handbook for travellers, K 29612:[A,1,7b], Collectie Stad Antwerpen, Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience