A Chronology of Belgian History

57-51 B.C.: Caesar conquers the Belgae, tribes of Celtic origin.

1st-5th Centuries: The period of Pax Romana. The Salian Franks, of Germanic origin, occupy northern Brabant and Flanders. Christianity is introduced.

9th 12th Centuries: The Treaty of Verdun divides the inheritance of Charlemagne between his sons. Belgium is comprised in Lotharingia and later in the duchy of Lower Lorraine, which occupies all but the western part of the Low Countries. In the twelfth century Lower Lorraine disintegrates and the duchies of Brabant, Luxembourg, and the bishopric of Liège take its place. The cities of Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres rise to power and virtual independence through their wool industries and trade.

c.1385-1441: Jan van Eyck is attached to the dukes of Burgundy as a painter of religious panels.

c. 1400-1465: Roger van der Weyden succeeds Jan van Eyck as head of the Flemish school of painting.

c. 1430-1494: Hans Mending continues the tradition of Van Eyck and Van der Weyden in his delicate religious paintings,

15th Century: All of present Belgium passes to the dukes of Burgundy. The wool industries decline, partly due to English competition. With the death of Mary of Burgundy (1482), a period of foreign domination begins.

c.1525 1569: Pieter Brueghel the Elder paints scenes from everyday life which generations of Lowlands painters are to explore to the full.

1560: The religious wars break out. Philip II, a Spanish Hapsburg, lays down absolutist policies which are later to result in revolution.

1577-1640: Peter Paul Rubens becomes the greatest exponent of the Baroque north of the Alps.

1579: The religious schism between the Protestant north and the Catholic south (now Belgium) is complete. The south remains under Spanish rule with Catholicism as the state religion.

1599-1641: Anthony van Dyke, as Rubens’ greatest student, continues the great tradition of Flemish painting.

1715: The Treaty of Utrecht transferred control of the Catholic Lowlands from Spain to the Austrian house of Hapsburg.

1797: The Treaty of Campo Formio passes Belgium from Austria to France.

1815: The full of Napoleon frees the Belgian provinces which, under the Treaty of Vienna, are united with Holland to form the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

1830: Belgium revolts against Holland and declares its independence.

1831: A constitution is voted and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha becomes the first king of the Belgians.

1865: Leopold II becomes king and personally directs his country’s acquisition of an African empire.

1885: The Congo Free State is established under the sovereignty of Leopold II who becomes the chief stockholder in its managing company.

1908: The independent state of the Congo is annexed to Belgium to be administered through that country’s parliament.

1914: Belgium is invaded by the German army and occupied for four years.

1940: The Nazis invade the country and occupy it until September, 1944.

1951: Leopold III abdicates his throne in favor of his son. Prince Baudouin.