This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the French Wikipedia. (January 2014)
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The Southern Netherlands were invaded and annexed by the First French Republic in 1795, ending Habsburg rule. After Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815, the major victorious powers agreed at the Congress of Vienna on reuniting the former Austrian Netherlands and the former Dutch Republic, creating the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, which was to serve as a buffer state against any future French invasions. King William imposed Dutch as the main language, while French was the language of the bourgeoisie in the Southern Netherlands. They were also significantly underrepresented in the Dutch Assembly. These and other reasons caused in 1830 the Belgian Revolution, supported by France. The Southern Netherlands declared independence, becoming the Kingdom of Belgium. However, some of the proponents of secession from the Netherlands, preferred union with France rather than an independent country, but the major European powers decided on an independent neutral Belgium in the Treaty of London.
The "r" in "rattachism" (from "re-" and "attach"), indicating a re-unification, is in reference to a future unification being a repeat occurrence, after the previous "unity" which transpired during the French Revolution and subsequent Napoleonic empire.