History of Belgium & the Low Countries before 1830

History of Belgium & the Low Countries


My country, Belgium, is founded in 1830. However the area was known since
many centuries before. Even Caesar mentioned the name Belgae already in his 
Commentarii de bello Gallico. 

On this page there is a lot of place for the glorious history of Belgium before 
1830. All the memorable dates, beautiful places and the amazing heroes will be 

I wish you a lot of fun, while reading the page History of Belgium and
the Low Countries before 1830!

Kathleen Van Lierop

A Roman Province

Belgium became independent in 1830 but the name is a lot older.
The name was derived from Belgica, a Roman Province, where the
Belgae lived. These Belgae were a mix from Celtic and Germanic

In 57 BC Caesar made the siege of Tongeren. As a great strategist,
Caesar could conquer new areas.

One of the most famous people in these areas were the Eburones.
They lived in the Southern Netherlands, eastern Belgium and
the Rhineland in Germany.

A famous prince of the Eburones was Ambiorix. He has his own statue
in Tongeren, however Ambiorix never lived there.

A Frankish King

During the 5th. century an immigration by the Germanic Frankish
took place. Their capital became Tournai.

Merovingian Dynasty

The Frankish king Clovis I founded the Merovingian Dynasty which
lasted till 751. He moved the capital from Tournai to Paris.

Carolingian Dynasty

In 751 the Merovingian Dynasty was followed by the Carolingian

One of the main important Kings was King Charlemagne.
He reigned over a big part of Europe and the Pope crowned him
as Emperor. There are a lot of traces of his reign in Aachen (Germany).

Treaty of Verdun

In 843 the The Treaty of Verdun was signed this divided the region into
a Middle and West Francia.

During the Middle Ages the people were vassals of the King of France
or the Holy Roman Emperor.

Gravensteen Castle in Ghent, Flanders, Belgium

More about the Gravensteen Castle, check this link

Count of Flanders

After the Treaty of Verdun the King of France was feudalist from 
the County of Flanders. At that time this was one of the most 
prosperous regions in Western Europe.

The first person who hold the title 'Count of Flanders' was:

Baldwin with the iron arm

He took Princess Judith, daughter of Charles The Bald, as his bride.
Princess Judith was a granddaughter of Charlemagne.

Baldwin was a noble member from the House of Flanders.

Their son would reign as Baldwin II. nicknamed
Calvus the Bald. Baldwin II would married Elftrudis of Wessex.

Elftrudis was an English princess and a daughter of Alfred the Great.

They would have 4 children.

Arnulf I

He married Adele of Vermandois

They would have 5 children.

Baldwin III married Mathilde of Saxony

Arnulf II (son of Baldwin III)

He married Rozala of Lombardy

Baldwin IV the bearded (son of Arnulf II)

He married Ogive of Luxembourg, daughter of Frederick of Luxembourg.

He later married Eleanor of Normandy, daughter of Richard II of Normandy

Baldwin V of Lille (son of Baldwin IV)

He married Adèle of France.
They would have 3 children.

Their daughter Matilda would marry William the Conqueror

Baldwin VI (son of Baldwin V)

He would marry Rechilde of Hainault.
They would have 2 children.

Arnulf III (son of Baldwin VI)

Robert I the Frisian (son of Baldwin V)

He would marry Gertrude of Saxony. They would have 6 children.
Their daughter Adela of Flanders would marry King Canute IV of Denmark
and later Duke of Apulia.

Robert II (son of Robert I)

He would marry Clementia of Burgundy, daughter of Count William I of
Burgundy. During the Crusades she became regent of Flanders.

Baldwin VII (son of Robert II)

He would marry Hawise (also called Havide) of Brittany. The groom was
12 years old the Bride 9 ...

They were divorced in 1110. There was no issue. Baldwin declared his
cousin Charles as his heir.

Check the History OnThisDay about him on this link

Charles I The Good

Charles the Good was the son of Adela of Flanders and Canute Iv of Denmark.

William I Clito

William I Clito married Sibylla of Anjou in 1123. In 1124 their marriage was

annulled on ground of consanguinity.

He was designated by Louis VI of France

Thierry Count of Flanders

His first wife Swanhilde died in 1132 they had one daughter.

He married secondly to Sibylla of Anjou. They would have 6 children.

Philip I, Count of Flanders

In 1159 Philip married Elisabeth of Vermandois. This marriage remained

Margaret I, Countess of Flanders

Margaret was the daughter of Thierry, Count of Flanders.
She married Ralph II, Count of Vermandois. He died of Leprosy in
1167. They hadn't issue.

She married secondly Baldwin V, Count of Hainault. They would have
8 children.

Baldwin VIII, Count of Flanders

He was the husband of Margaret I of Flanders. After her death he ruled
the county of Flanders. He also was Margrave of Namur.

Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders

He married Marie of Champagne, daughter of Henry I, 
Count of Champagne. Her maternal grandparents were 
King Louis VII of France and
Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Joan I

Joan was the elder daughter of Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders and

Mary of Champagne. She was countess of Flanders and Hainault.

She married Ferdinand, infante of Portugal. On their way to Flanders
they were taken captive by Louis, son of King Philippe II of France.

After paying their concessions they were released. Later Joan and
her husband allied against France.

Her first husband died in 1233. In 1237 she married again, this time
Thomas II of Savoy was the happy one. This marriage remained childless.

Around 1225, Werner III vond Merode was born. He was the ancestor of 
many important descendants. The family history of de Merode is very 
interesting to read. Check this link

Margaret II

Margaret II was a younger sister of Joan.  She married

Bouchard IV of Avesnes and later William II of Dampiere
She died on February 10th. 1280 at the age of 77 ! in Ghent.

I made a History / On This Day about her, check this link

Power to the people?

After  1100 the first cities were founded. They became important for the
commerce. They were famous for the textile. Cities as Brussels,
Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and Ypres became very famous.

Bruges Belgium
Bruges - Belgium

Belfry of Bruges

Jacob van Artevelde (1290 - 1345)

was a brewer, who became a Flemish statesman and a political leader.  
During the Hundred Years' war he feared for the prosperity of Ghent. 
First of all Jacob van Artevelde set up an alliance with Burges and 
Ypres in order to show neutrality. In July 1345 van Artevelde 
was killed during a violent mob.

Jacob van Artevelde -Statue at the Vrijdagsmarkt in Ghent , Belgium

Jacques de Châtlillon (died in 1302)

King Philip IV of France appointed him as governor of the 
County of Flanders. He understood little about the situation in Flanders. 
Cities of Bruges, Ghent and Ypres were richer and more powerful than 
any city in France. He made a huge mistake. He agreed that his soldiers 
would overnight in Bruges.

Bruges Matins

On May 18th. 1302 the Bruges Matins (in Dutch: Brugse Metten) 
took place. Flemish militia attacked the French garrison in Bruges 
during the night. Although Jacques de Châtillon could escape. 
The Flemish militia didn't see that their governor was dressed as a 
common man....

Battle of the Golden Spurs

These revolts led to the Battle of the Golden Spurs on July 11th. 1302.
The insurgents were defeated in 1328 near Dunkirk. The golden spurs
were taken to the Church of Our Lady in Kortrijk. However French
soldiers robbed them during a new battle in 1382.


In those times, Ypres was one of the most important cities of 
the Low Countries. Its textiles were sold around the world even on
markets in Russia. 

I made several post about Ypres inter alia:

- St. Martin's Church on this link 


House of Dampierre

This family played an important role in the Middle Ages.
They were inter alia:

Counts of Flanders,
Counts of Nevers,
Counts of Rethel,
Counts of Artois.

William II

William II married Margaret II, Countess of Flanders. 
They had 3 sons and 1 daughter.

Jeanne of Dampierre married Hugh III of Rethel. 
Later she would marry Theobald II, Count of Bar. 
This marriage remained childless too.

William III

He was the son of William II of Dampierre and
Margaret II of Flanders.

William married Beatrice of Brabant. They would
have no children.

Guy I

He was the son of William II of Dampierre and

Margaret II of Flanders and a younger Brother of
William III.

Guy married Matilda of Béthune and Isabelle of Luxembourg.

Robert III

Count of Flanders, also called Robert de Béthune and nicknamed as:
The Lion of Flanders.

Robert was the eldest son of Guy and Matilda of Béthune.

Robert married twice

1/ Blanche, daughter of Charles I of Sicily

2/ Yolande II, countess of Nevers.
They would have 5 children.

More about Robert III of Flanders on this link

Louis I

was a grandson of Robert III.

He married Margaret I, countess of Burgundy and Artois.
They would have one son

Louis II

He was the son of Louis I and Margaret I, countess of Burgundy and


Louis II married Margaret of Brabant.

They were the parents of inter alia Margaret III.

Margaret III together with her

husband Philip the Bold

Margaret died in 1405. With her death the House of Dampierre

became extinct and the County of Flanders lost its independence.
It came under the reign of members from the House of Burgundy.

House of Bourgundy

Coat of arms of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy

John the Fearless

married Margaret of Bavaria. Together they would have 12


Philip III the Good

Philip the Good was the son of John the Fearless and 
Margaret of Bavaria. He would marry 3 times:

1/ Michelle of Valois (daughter of King Charles VI of France);
2/ Bonne of Artois
3/ Isabella of Portugal (daughter of John I of Portugal and
of Lancaster).

Today in History about John IV, Duke of Brabant, a nephew

of Philip the Good, check this link

Charles II  the Bold

Charles the bold was born on November 10th. 1433

and died on January 5th. 1477 at the Battle of Nancy

He married 3 times:

1/ Catherine of France 
2/ Isabella of Bourbon
3/ Margaret of York


Margaret of York the 3rd wife of Charles the Bold has a 
remarkable link to Sluis, now located in the Netherlands.
More information, check this link

Mary the Rich, Duchess of Burgundy

After the death of Charles the Bold, his daughter, 
Mary of Burgundy inherited his lands. She married
Archduke Maximilian of Austria (Later Holy Roman

The Burgundian lands came into the hands of
members of the House of Habsburgs.  

Important families: House of Croÿ more on this link

House of Habsburg

Coat of Arms of King Philip I of Castile
"The Handsome'
Duke Philip IV of Burgundy

Philip I of Castile, Duke Philip IV of Burgundy
'the Handsome'

Philip I of Castile was the son of Maximilian of Austria and
Mary of Burgundy. He was born on July 22nd. 1478.
He married Joanna of Castile or 'the mad'. 

They would have 6 children:

* Eleanor, Queen consort of France and Portugal;
* Charles Holy Roman Emperor;
* Isabella, Queen consort of Denmark, Norway and Sweden;
* Ferdinand, King of Bohemia and Hungary, Holy Roman Emperor;
* Mary, Queen consort of Bohemia and Hungary;
* Catherine, Queen consort of Portugal

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Was born in 1500 at the Prinsenhof in Gent, Belgium, more about
this former royal destination, check this link

He grew up in Mechelen.
Later Charles V moved his court to Spain.

William de Croÿ

William II de Croÿ, Lord of Chièvres was the second son of 
Philippe de Croÿ, Lord of Aarschot and Jacoba of Luxembourg.

William married Maria-Magdalena of Hamal, widow of
Adolf van der Marck.

In 1491 he was elected as Knight of the Golden Fleece. He also
became part of the court of Philip the Handsome. 

In 1506, William de Croÿ became part of the regency council and 
he held responsible for the finance of the Low Countries. 

In 1509 he became chief tutor of the infant Archduke Charles, 
the later emperor Charles V.

William de Croÿ moved the nine-year old Charles away from the 
court of Margaret of Austria, so he had a better influence. 

It was on William's advice that Charles sent his brother Ferdinand
away from Spain. 

William died in 1521. He could be poisoned.  He had no children
so William was succeeded by his nephew Philippe II de Croÿ.

William de Croÿ was portrayed in the Spanish fictional historical
series Carlos, rey emperador (Carlos King Emperor). 

Margaret of Austria

I made a blogpost of Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Savoy and
later governor of the Netherlands, see this link

own picture of Margaret of Austria, taken in Mechelen, Belgium

Mary of Austria, also known as Mary of Hungary

Governor of The Netherlands

Philip II of Spain

Philipp II of Spain - Source picture: Wikipedia

under his reign a lot of trouble took place. There were
economical, political and religious conflicts in
The Netherlands.

Under his reign he founded the first Royal Library in the
Low Countries. The Royal Library of Belgium came out
this important institution. More information, check this link

Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy

Margaret of Parma

I made a Today in History about her, check this link

Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, 3rd. Duke of Alba

I made a Today in History of the Iron Duke, who was governor of 
The Netherlands during the reign of Philip II of Spain, check this

Counts of Egmont and Horne

William the Silent

Luis de Requesens y Zúñiga

John of Austria

Alexander Farnese

Peter Ernst I von Mansfeld Vorderort

Ernest of Austria

Pedro Henrique de Acevedo

Albert of Austria

Isabella Clara Eugenia

Revolts against Spain by the Dutch Republic

When William the Silent was murdered in 1584 by Balthasar Gerards,

a difficult time started for the revolts against Spain.

After 1587 it became better. Maurits of Orange, the son of
William the Silent became a successful military commander.

Prince Maurice 'Maurits' of Orange

Johan van Oldenbarnevelt
became the political leader.

For ten years everything went very well. France and England
allied with the Netherlands.

In 1600 Prince Maurits still had a beautiful victory in Nieuwpoort
but it became a difficult situation.

In 1608 the peace negotiations started between Spain and the

Johan van Oldenbarnevelt wanted peace but Prince Maurits
wanted that the war lasted longer.

The peace negotiations broke down but in 1609 the
Twelve Year's Truce was signed.

In 1619 Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was beheaded.

Prince Frederick Henry

married Amalia of Solms Braunfels

King Philip IV of Spain

Ferdinand of Austria

Francisco de Melo

Manuel de Moura (1590-1651)

He work for the peace between the United provinces
and the Spanish Netherlands

Leopold William of Austria

Peace of Münster

Between the Dutch Republic and Spain in 1648

John of Austria the Younger

Louis de Benavides Carillo

King Charles II of Spain

Francisco de Moura

Iñigo Melchor de Valasco

Juan Domingo de Zuñiga y Fonseca

Carlos Aragón de Gurrea

Alexander Farnese

Ottone Enrico del Caretto

Francisco Antonio de Agurto

King Philip V of Spain

Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria

War of the Spanish Succession

Treaty of Utrecht

This treaty made an end to the war. It was signed by

France, Spain, Great Britain, Portugal, Savoy and the Dutch Republic.

The treaty recognized Philip V as King of Spain.
The Spanish territories in Europe were appointed.

Charles VI received the Spanish Netherlands.

Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor

Eugene of Savoy

Wirich Philip von Daun

Maria Elisabeth of Austria

She was a popular regent of the Habsburg Netherlands but her 
independent politics weren't much appreciated in Vienna

Maria Theresa of Austria

Friedrich August von Harrach Rohrau

Maria Anna of Austria

Charles Alexander of Lorraine

Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor

Maria Christina of  Austria Lorraine & Albert Casimir of Saxony

Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor

Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor

Charles of Austria Lorraine


In 1794 the French Revolutionary Wars took place. The territories of the
low countries were annexed by the French First Republic.

Napoleon Satue

Napoleon Statue

On 18 July 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte visited Sint-Niklaas,
nowadays located in Flanders, Belgium
check this link

Peasants' War (1798)

In Dutch: Boerenkrijg

The Peasant's war was a revolt against the French occupation of the
Southern Netherlands. 

The French annexed the region in 1795 . They immediately started
to implement their policies against the catholic church.

The priests had to take an oath of allegiance to the state and they could
be removed from their homes and their positions if they refused.

The second reason for a revolt was that young man between 20 and 25 
had to enter the French army. 

The Peasant's War in 1798 occurred mostly in Flanders and Brabant. Some
historians claimed that this was an indication of the wish of independence
in Belgium.

In Overmere, peasants took up their arms against the French.  They
could be stopped two months later in Hasselt. 

Between 5,000 and 10,000 people were killed during this action. 

In 1853 Hendrik Conscience made a novel about this Peasants' War.

Battle of Waterloo (1815)

United Kingdom of The Netherlands

In 1815 the United Kingdom of the Netherlands were created at the
Congress of Vienna.

King William (Willem) I of The Netherlands

An independent country

In 1830 the Belgian Revolution took place. It led to the independence
of Belgium.

Under construction - new project
Pictures: Wikipedia unless the statues and the landscapes and the cities. 
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