Talk:History of Belgium

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Ctrl+V by 172 Nobody does it better !

Does the Dutroux scandal really need to take up this much space? The article is about the entire history of the country, but a significant portion of it is dedicated to a single scandal. --Sesel 07:26, 25 May 2004 (UTC)

It certainly deserves a paragraph. The issue is not so much how long this paragraph is, but how short the other ones are... --Edcolins 19:59, 25 May 2004 (UTC)

Very true. There is barely any time spent discussing VITAL parts of Belgian history such as the school crisis or the splitting of the University of Leuven in '68. ... not to mention that the Congo received a very rosy treatment.

"Rumour has that both France and the Netherlands had plans to fully occupy or annex Belgium well after World War I, but these never came to fruition." Source? Junes 10:30, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Through a policy of deliberate lack of military spending since the latter half of the 19th century, the Netherlands were in no position to annex any part of a European country. Belgium did try to annex parts of the Netherlands after WWI as retalliation for the perceived Dutch support for the German side during the war and to improve Belgium's strategic position. In the absence of strong allied support for this plan, it was abandoned. --Mzzl (talk) 08:52, 24 July 2008 (UTC)

"In 675 BC, the Belgae were overrrun by the armies of Julius Caesar" : in 675 BC Julius Caesar was not even born ... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:25, 7 May 2008 (UTC)


This article seem to suggest that the belgae are viewed as almost perfectly Gauls. This isn't true. They were more of a melting pot between German and Celtic culture. With certain tribes claiming to have german blood, and originating from Germanic lands. At least thats what Caesar says in his Bello Galllico. If noone minds I'll go do some reading and expand (and possibly correct some mistake) in this section. When I find more time and have good sources at hand. Need spelling, grammar and opinions afterwards. Titirius (talk) 10:58, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Federalisation process +/- ignored![edit]

The process that lead to the stablisment of the federalised institutions (Flemish, Walloon, ... governements) is not discussed at all in this section. Quite strange.

Yes indeed. Be bold : do it!

I'll have a go at it when I find some time. Though I could use someone proofreading spelling and grammar. Titirius (talk) 10:50, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Franco-Prussian war[edit]

What is the last country that Belgium was at war with before the two World Wars? The answer I hear most often is .. Germany, during the Franco-Prussian war. This article doesn't mention it all. However, I am far from an expert on that war, and not a native speaker of English either... So I must resort to asking for help.Evilbu 14:20, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Belgium was neutral until WWI, and di not declare war on any party in the war of 1870. See e.g. here[1] (in Dutch) for a short mention of this, or here for an indirect testimony to this[2] in English. Fram 14:38, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Needed: Military history of Belgium during World War II[edit]

Hi. In looking at Category:Military history of Belgium during World War II it appears that there is no lead article for this. Belgium was a key state in the beginning of the Second World War. If anyone can assist by starting Military history of Belgium during World War II it would fill an important gap. There are many good and reliable sources for this topic. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 13:21, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

I'll try and write a short basis for this section when I find some time. Titirius (talk) 10:24, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Taal Aktie Komitee.jpg[edit]

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Key Objective?[edit]

Aside from political sympathy, a key objective for both the British and the French governments was to keep the harbors of Antwerp and Rotterdam in two separate, hostile countries.

Are there any independent sources for this claim? It seems unlikely that Britain, which was at the apex of its economic and military power at that time, would have felt remotely threatened by a united Netherlands. In fact, the united kingdom of the Netherlands was a British creation. Furthermore, in the absence of a land route, cargo for the European mainland couldn't have gone to London instead, and cargo for the UK couldn't be unloaded in Antwerp, even if one harbor was much "better" than the other. It seems more likely that Britain recognized and guaranteed the Belgian independence and its borders to prevent it from joining France, so shortly after Napoleon, and very shortly after the French july revolution. --Mzzl (talk) 08:41, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

War Reperations[edit]

The comment that Belgium recieved no war reperations is incorrect. During the 1920's when the German Government could not pay, a Franco-Belgian force invaded the Saar land to collect what was owed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:51, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Did the Socialist Party incite?[edit]

I read this sentence: Although he narrowly won the referendum, the militant socialist movement in Liège, Hainaut and other urban centres incited major protests and strikes. Many people said, long before (in 1945) the strike of July will occur (Gillon, Van den Dungen, Frans Van Cauwelaert... In General strike against Leopold III of Belgium, there are evidences the Socialist party didn't incite. I think it is difficult to say that a party would be able to incite or to order a General strike, which is always rather uncontrollable. Sincerely, José Fontaine (talk) 22:24, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

The lead and my reversion[edit]

I did a pretty big revert of content added by Andrew Lancaster, so I would like to explain my concerns.

  • General phrasing
  • There was too much detail on Caesar, and what he said and thought.
  • Missed mention of the independent status of the smaller Medieval entities.
  • Habsburg rule is important to mention.
  • The revolution should be explicitly mentioned, not just as a vague "series of steps".

I did end up putting a lot of his stuff back in too. My version was certainly not perfect, and nor was his, so I'm hoping that my edits turn out to move the introduction closer to something that gets to the gist of it. Oreo Priest talk 00:31, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

Most academic works which discuss the origin of the word "Belgium" really do mention Caesar. This is not just pointing to a famous person. He really does seem to be the origin of the word "Belgium" in the written record. He also did this before there was any such thing as a province of "Gallia Belgica". You have reversed this, which is actually wrong. Belgium was first, and Gallia Belgica came later. We also have to be careful about implying that Belgium is in the same place as Gallia Belgica or classical Belgium, and we need to be careful to avoid taking any non-neutral position concerning how Celtic, Germanic or "other" that the Belgae were.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 21:41, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
Made an edit, but keep up the good work.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 21:45, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

"The history of Belgium stretches from pre-history to the present day"[edit]

Can we take this a read? Quite frankly it would be surprising if it didn't. Though I don't have a better suggestion off the top of my head, the first sentance is really important and, in its present form, it really does not add anything. --Brigade Piron (talk) 17:05, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

good point; I fixed it. Rjensen (talk) 17:25, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

the article is getting very big and very wordy[edit]

Continuing thanks for the work being done on the article, but I do feel that a caution needs to be raised. This article is now getting well above the suggested maximum size for an article, and any quick reading will show that every part and even every sentence is becoming very wordy and trying to fit every possible side-issue into every sentence. It looks like a very big draft at this moment. I am hoping that compression will also be part of the editing process?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 21:19, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

I absolutely agree. Oreo Priest talk 21:35, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
good point. I'll start trimming. If a topic has a Wiki article then a brief summary is all that is needed; if the point does not have a separate article perhaps it can be dropped.Rjensen (talk) 21:42, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
Not necessarily. Maybe a new article would need to be created if there is not yet an article. I do not think Wikipedia is over-endowed with articles about Belgium, so if a section here is getting too long, and there is no article why not make a new article with that material and keep a short version here?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 21:47, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
I don't know - its true there are a lot of sections, but none are particularly big on their own. Surely for a page of this magnitude (second only to Belgium on the wikiproject's hit-list right?) it needs to be detailed? There are plenty of "History of..." pages on wiki that are very superficial and not worth reading because they do not deal with all the important points in sufficient detail. ---Brigade Piron (talk) 23:54, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
One reason for the WP:SPLIT policies is that when an article gets over 100,000 bytes it becomes difficult to load and edit for many people. So it is partly just a practical thing to split up discussion of large subjects.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:55, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
at 10,000 bytes per second --a very slow speed indeed in this cellphone age--it would take about 10 seconds to download an article that would take 30+ minutes to read. So I don't think that's a good reason to reduce the quantity of info we provide. Rjensen (talk) 09:53, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm with Rjensen on this one - considering the importance of the article, I don't think we can afford to cut it without losing valuable stuff. However, I do think some of the more recent (policy on nuclear power, gay marriage etc) doesn't really rank with the Second World War in the History of Belgium, but should be moved to the page Belgium. Brigade Piron (talk) 10:23, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
I am not an expert, but I do not think you can just equate bytes per second of your cellphone with speed problems on Wikipedia itself. There are presumably many possible transmission and processing bottlenecks? Anyway, I do know from practical experience that long articles such as Evolution can be very hard to edit on some days, leading to crashes and lost work. Nothing is lost by splitting an article that gets too big, and Evolution periodically has "children". Anyway, the other point is that you just have to read the article to see that some of the expansions happening have not necessarily increased quality of wording. Editing usually makes things both shorter and easier to read, and does not necessarily mean removing information.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 13:51, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

(undent)I understand that everything seems important and valuable, but this article isn't supposed to be an exhaustive list of everything that's ever happened in Belgium. It's supposed to be a high-level summary, and a reasonable length, and readability suffers if we try to include everything on this page. Per WP:SPLIT:

Rule of thumb:
Readable prose size What to do
> 100k Almost certainly should be divided
> 60k Probably should be divided (although the scope of a topic can sometimes justify the added reading time)
> 50k May need to be divided (likelihood goes up with size)
< 40k Length alone does not justify division
< 1k If an article or list has remained this size for over a couple of months, consider combining it with a related page. Alternatively, why not fix it by adding more info? See Wikipedia:Stub.

Right now we're sitting on 140k, which is substantially more than the 'almost certainly should be divided' listed above. If you print it as a PDF, the prose is 33 A4 pages long. This is simply too much text for the average reader. To pick out a couple particularly egregious examples, someone wanting a summary of the history of Belgium (and not a PhD on it) would probably not care about "Foreign relations and the Franco-Prussian War" (in which Belgium didn't even participate) or a contract awarded to provide tramways to a minor Chinese city. I know we find these interesting, but we are clearly not the average reader, and this article is not the place for those facts. We really have to be bold here with the scissors, and fork some of the more detailed explanations to their own pages. Oreo Priest talk 16:52, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

As the writer of both of the paragraphs which invoke Oreo's displeasure, I'd just point out that (a) the Franco-Prussian War is the watershed point in Belgian policy in many different areas and led to a crash modernization programme at the end of the century and (b) "providing tramways to a minor Chinese city" is exactly how Belgium made much of its money; Belgium was the biggest exporter of rail/tram parts in the world which I felt, at least, was worth a mention. --Brigade Piron (talk) 09:08, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
I think indeed such things are notable enough to be in Wikipedia, so they should of course not simply be deleted, but the article is getting too big, and so please already

consider what new articles can be created in order to be a home for some of this material. For example Economic history of Belgium?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 20:58, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Brigade, I find those things interesting, I really do. But we have to be more concise here. Perhaps the Franco-Prussian War content would have a better home at Belgian_Army#History? And the "providing tramways to a minor Chinese city" is not how Belgium made much of it's money, it's an example of how. If "Belgium was the biggest exporter of rail/tram parts in the world" then that's what we should say, and there's no need to mention a specific contract. The Tianjin concession as a whole is notable enough for at most one sentence in an article on the whole history of the country. This article will be better with a concise style than with a length that is daunting for the average reader. Oreo Priest talk 15:06, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
the Wikipedia rule of thumb " 'almost certainly should be divided' " was written to cover the run of the mill 4 million articles on Wikipedia. It was not written by someone familiar with history articles. I suggest that few people read this article from beginning to end--people are instead interested in a specific period, and perhaps what comes before and after. That will make for a comfortable reading experience for most of our readers. Rjensen (talk) 15:23, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
That's not correct. Wikipedia:Summary_style#Rationale makes it clear that an article should not attempt to cover all the details of a topic if this makes it unduly long. Part of this is to not be "exhausting those who need a primer on a whole topic". If people are interested in a specific period only, then we can fork that into a separate, more detailed article, as the policy page makes clear. Oreo Priest talk 16:00, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
this article covers a small fraction of what a history book would cover--and indeed there are many many links to Wikipedia articles on special topics. But I don't think it's unduly long--what is the evidence for that from someone who has actually read the article? Rjensen (talk) 16:31, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
I understand Oreo. If cuts have to be made, could we perhaps consider creating a sub article Belgian history since 1830 or History of the Kingdom of Belgium? I notice that this article incorporated text from a previous one covering Belgian history before Independence... --Brigade Piron (talk) 18:43, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Rjensen, I'm not sure why you don't think the policy doesn't apply to this article unless the policy writer has read this article specifically. I have read this article. It took ages, and it was exhausting despite my interest in the subject. That's not OK.
Brigade, breaking it up by time period might be a good idea. I think having a separate article about Belgium in each of the world wars would be a good idea, because there's probably too much detail on those too. It might very well be time to create Military history of Belgium as well. Oreo Priest talk 20:27, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
the policy was designed for 4 million articles. It explicitly says that it assumes people will read the article straight through and the reader then bumps against a "normal" attention span. That's true for millions of Wikipedia articles I suppose but I think this should be designed for readers who a) are interested in a specific subtopic or b) are serious enough to spend the time they need in perhaps two or three sessions. (That's how people read books, after all. Yes Belgium needs a separate article on many topics--certainly on the world war I (it has one on ww2 = History of Belgium (1939-1945). It already has many and needs more. But like all nations it also needs an overall article that makes sense of the overall history. This one runs about 17,000 words of main text (excluding notes) -- That's about the length of perhaps two chapters in a university history textbook. I think instead of chopping out history here we would be better off adding new material to other Belgium-related articles. Rjensen (talk) 21:15, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
So you think that we should have no article that gives a primer on the topic that's accessible to those who aren't willing to invest the time required to read two chapters of a university textbook? That's exactly what the policy page says should not happen. Those willing to invest the time should refer to the more in-depth subarticles where appropriate. This article must become accessible to those seeking a primer. Oreo Priest talk 22:11, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Oh no--for those people with a few minutes to spend the lede is already a good introduction. It summarizes what they want to know in a nutshell. Rjensen (talk) 10:21, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
I think the policy does apply to this article, and I do not think it is damaging to our coverage of Belgium if we split big subjects up into multiple articles. It is just natural that as things get bigger, they need to be split and carefully structured. So for example a TOC is normal for articles over a certain size. It would be silly to argue that a TOC should be avoided for some subjects because people interested in those subjects have a better attention span.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:23, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Great War[edit]

I'm starting a new article on Belgium in World War I that will include excerpts from here and from the articles on the Rape of Belgium etc. We can decide later if this article can be shortened accordingly. Rjensen (talk) 09:32, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

That's a good idea, it makes a pretty good article already! I've done something similar with History of Belgium (1939-1945) (though the article's title is really bad) so that section can be cut also. --Brigade Piron (talk) 11:50, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

New sub-articles[edit]

Here is a list of (sub) articles which have been from the text from this article. Please link to them instead of providing long descriptions:

Please update this list as they are created. --Brigade Piron (talk) 19:07, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Just to confirm: I notice there are many articles named "Economic history of...". It seems a good idea to me to have one for Belgium, given that you are working on this subject already. I have done this sort of thing before: you can efficiently work on two articles at once in such a situation, main and specialist, moving long stuff from one to the other.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:03, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Do we really need a section on the Historiography of Belgium in this article?[edit]

Historiography can be worth discussing in WP of course, but is it a notable part of History itself?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:05, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

oh yes--when you get to graduate school in history it's mostly about historiography. That is how different historians have given different interpretations to the same historical data and events. People ignorant of historiography falsely assume that there is one and only one "true" history and it's a matter of memorizing the official facts. Rjensen (talk) 13:41, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
I believe Rjensen has done an excellent job of that section, but I do agree that it should be moved to a different page, say Belgian historiography. This article is after all mainly for a basic, impartial and chronological history of the topic; few "real" historians would consider writing like this but nevertheless this article should serve as an introduction alone. ---Brigade Piron (talk) 21:08, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, no criticism of the work done is intended by me. Of course I also understand that historiography might be a valid and important part of university courses about Belgian history, but not every part of a study course is part of what should be in a WP article about the same subject. Indeed, no University course will ever fit in one WP article, but we can hope to fit such material into lots of different articles.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 11:08, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Brigade Piron says "article is after all mainly for a basic, impartial and chronological history" -- yes indeed. the obvious question is how we know it's "basic, impartial and chronological" -- and the answer is historiography tells us. There's no secret book somewhere that has all this impartial history that we just copy. Rjensen (talk) 14:33, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, I've tried to keep the sections I have written as free of interpretation as possible, just sticking to facts and "significance" rather than "interpretation". However, I'd also point out thathe historians you mention (indeed, the Great Belgian historians) like Henri Pirenne remain almost totally un-cited in the article. In this light, I'd just question how relevant it was. --Brigade Piron (talk) 17:19, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree that there is no place for historiography in this article. It should be forked in its entirety to another article. I have not seen a single other history article on wikipedia mention historiography. Once again, I'd like to reiterate that this article is NOT to be written for graduate students or at the graduate level. No article in any encyclopedia is; encyclopedias are meant to be accessible to the general public. Oreo Priest talk 17:28, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
the entire article, including historiography section, is fully accessible to the general public. There are no fancy technical terms, for example. To assume the general public is uninterested in how we know so much about Belgium is a poor argument--I am assuming instead that lots of people are seriously interested in the history of Belgium. The articles on History of the Netherlands and History of Germany have much longer sections on historiography. Rjensen (talk) 17:39, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
History of Germany has no historiography section, but History of the Netherlands does, you're right. The concern about accessibility is once again a question of length. I have never encountered historiography (about subjects that are not highly disputed) outside of university; as a result, I think that historiography is the most easily dispensable section if this article is to be made an appropriate length. Oreo Priest talk 19:30, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Most people go to university these days including tens of millions of our users. They deserve help from Wikipedia too. (on the History of Germany article, the historiography is under #13 "Historians" and #12 "Sonderweg debate"). Rjensen (talk) 21:56, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, this article has still got to show the chronology and outline the most important aspects of the topic. What I'm afraid you seem to be doing is sawing through vast sections of article in order to justify the historiography section, which is, in my opinion wrong in an article of this scope. I notice you have deleted all mention of Belgian territory in China, Women's suffrage, the Belgian Congo in WW1 and The Fusilade of Mons all in a series of edits within a few hours. In my humble opinion, those deserve the place (albeit in a trimmed form) in a much-squeezed article more than this section, which deserves a separate one. --Brigade Piron (talk) 22:54, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
people want it shorter and so I'm trimming away. The Belgium did not control any significant territory in China so I dropped two sentences that do not claim that anything important happened there (The section was mostly about selling trams to one city in China--that does not make the cut for importance to the history of Belgium) The Fusilade of Mons is still there and even has a picture. World War I in Belgium now has a detailed article with the Congo covered (there was no fighting in the Congo & I did not reduce the coverage of the colony--indeed I think it should be expanded) Women's suffrage is still there. Rjensen (talk) 19:59, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

The map in the "Unrest in the southern provinces" section[edit]

Predominant language; green = Dutch; red = French (and a small German enclave in east central)
Traditional religion within the Netherlands and Flanders:
  No traditional religion

This map is presented as a language map. However, the file is called "File:Dutch religion map.png" which is also what it is to my knowledge. It shows the catholic south and the protestant north in the Dutch language area (which is the whole area). Some mistake must have happened here. Can someone replace it with a correct map? --Thathánka Íyotake (talk) 02:47, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

it's actually the language (Dutch north and French south) map, which historicallly had a sharp line of division. The religion map is much more complicated--lots of Catholics lived in the North . The person who drew the map misnamed it--that is the mistake.Rjensen (talk) 05:13, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
Really? Are you sure? I've seen plenty of language maps that put the language border roughly where it is today; this one shows almost all of modern 'Flanders' as predominantly French, in addition to some regions firmly in the modern Netherlands. -Oreo Priest talk 16:45, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
It is definitely not a language map. Whatever the file name, this is a map of the entire Dutch-speaking area, apparently around 1830, since it also includes Brussels plus French Flanders (Dutch-speaking) in the west. Note that Wallonia is not included in the map at all. The red/green divide does not represent any language border: it shows all of Flanders plus the present Dutch provinces of Noord-Brabant, Limburg and part of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (in Zeeland) and Gelderland and even a section of Overijssel(!) as French-speaking (German should have another colour). The French language never reached that far north. As a religion map I agree that it is crude, but as a language map it is grossly flawed and misleading. I still believe in the intention behind the file name "File:Dutch religion map.png", but if it is not a crude religion map, I propose to delete it altogether since, as a language map it is so massively erroneous that it has no place on Wikipedia. --Thathánka Íyotake (talk) 06:00, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
PS: it also seems that the map has somehow been projected upon a map with the modern coastlines which would explain the green dot on the coast of Noordoost-Polder in Flevoland. It's the (now former) island of Urk --Thathánka Íyotake (talk) 06:00, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
i agree this not a language mapbfor any period. I also doubt that it is a useful religion map?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 06:51, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
OK I will delete it. Rjensen (talk) 07:12, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, this is an odd map of The Netherlands and Flanders, as if they were one unit without the rest of Belgium, and showing red over the entirety of Flanders, which has long been vastly Dutch speaking. Louvain, which was French in name before WWI and is now almost entirely Dutch speaking, lies at the southern border of the red area. The map probably does represent religion in the historically Dutch speaking areas, but is too confused to be of any use. μηδείς (talk) 07:18, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
I think Louvain/Leuven has always been Dutch speaking since late antiquity. French has however been used in the University until recent decades. The existence of a French name Louvain does not mean anything. There are also old French names for places like Londres. This is a well-studied subject, and basically the language border of Belgium and northern France has moved in the opposite direction to what is shown in this map. There are special exceptions, but quite small, and nothing like this map.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:14, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
I certainly won't argue. I am going from a memory that had the Dutch speaking area expanding to include Louvain, that may have been the surrounding countryside, with Dutch expanding at the expense of French. In any case, I know where Louvain is, and the language border was much closer to it than the religious border here. Be nice if I could remember where I saw that map! μηδείς (talk) 20:38, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
Dutch in green, German in blue, French in red; the bilingual French-Dutch area in the middle is Brussels
I am from Belgium and I can tell you for an absolutely definite fact this is not the language map. This is the map showing the religious division. Reformed (Protestant Calvinist) in Green and Catholics in Red. Signed: Basemetal (write to me here) 16:05, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
Here is a map of the language areas. Compare with the map above where "French" supposedly extends far into the Netherlands. Again: the first map is the religious map, not the linguistics map. Signed: Basemetal (write to me here) 22:58, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Basemetal - no-one doubts that this is what the language divides look like today, but as I'm sure you appreciate, there has been a shift over the past three hundred years. Personally, I agree. I also don't think it is useful to use the map in any context since it seems a bit dodgy for all. I suggest we drop it and leave it at that. Brigade Piron (talk) 07:14, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

I agree. I do not think it is easy to create a map of religions for this section either. Modern Belgium is basically entirely Catholic (whether or not people are even still serious about religion) and it has been for some time. And even though Flanders once contained many hotspots of very early Protestantism, this was during a period of change, and long ago.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:56, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, the more I look at the religion map, the more problematic it's beginning to seem to me. Wallonia (catholic) is not even shown. I have no idea then what that map purports to show. However it's definitely not a language map. Ok Brigade Piron, let's drop it and leave it at that. But you seem to believe that this may have been a language map a few hundred of years ago. But no, this can't have been the language map ever since the Franks (who brought the Germanic language into the Low Countries, which were then a part of the Roman Empire) crossed the Rhine, which happened around 400 or 500 AD. Since then the language boundaries have changed but only very little. The most important change is that Brussels that is now bilingual was a wholly Dutch (Flemish) speaking city (this is why in today's language map you see Brussels surrounded by a Dutch area). Dutch was extending as far down south as Waterloo (hence the Germanic place name) which is now wholly French speaking. In general French had been gaining a little bit the ground lost since the great invastions of 400 or 500 AD. It's not a usual situation if you look at the boundaries between Romance and Germanic through Belgium, France, Switzerland and the Austrian-Italian border. A final word of caution regarding the Belgian language map: actually the "language" map that I posted is the "official" language map (it's also the only map you will ever find because the Flemish authorities prevent any further census). This is the language map such as it was frozen around 1960 based on data from around 1935. Since then French has continued to expand around Brussels so that in fact Brussels is now more than 80 percent French-speaking and the officially bilingual region of Brussels which on the map is surrounded by Dutch in fact now touches the French speaking region. That the language map has now been frozen means that even if the majority in a region changes (say French speakers start outnumbering Dutch speakers in some commune) that commune remains forever officially Dutch-speaking. So this language map is an artificial construct used for political purposes, that does not reflect and will reflect less and less (until Belgium splits) the actual linguistic reality. Signed: Basemetal (write to me here) 14:54, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
there is a much more sophisticated map of religion in 1849 online -- perhaps it could be used to draw a more simple and accurate map of religion. the caption of the map says that is based on the 1849 census of Belgium (which is online)....however why then would it include the Netherlands? In any case statistical maps of census data were not invented until the 1860s -- and so this map seems to be from a later atlas. Can anyone identify it? how can we tell if the map in question is copyright or not? This comment was by Rjensen yet there is no signature and SineBot did not do its job! (Signed: Basemetal (write to me here) 15:33, 12 January 2013 (UTC))
The map you have indicated is a religion map but only for the Netherlands. Belgium lies wholly outside the area covered by the map. You could use it though to draw a religion map by adding the whole of Belgium as a catholic area (since Belgium is essentially wholly Catholic) but don't forget the French-speaking part of Belgium which had disappeared from the initial purported religion map. For the Netherlands the data of 1849 should be close enough to the 1830 data. Combining all of this you would get a reasonably accurate map for religions in the Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815-1830) established by the Congress of Vienna, which included the Netherlands, Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and which ended in that form when Belgium split from the Netherlands in 1830. (To recount what happened to Luxembourg would take us to far. Look up this article if interested). Signed: Basemetal (write to me here) 15:26, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
The comment I responded to was by Rjensen. How come that the comment is not signed and has not been supplied with information about its author by SineBot. A SineBot bug? Signed: Basemetal (write to me here) 15:30, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
I apologize for confusing SineBot and for being confused myself on the maps! Rjensen (talk) 16:23, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
No need to apologize. I was just wondering what had happened. Cheers. Signed: Basemetal (write to me here) 16:37, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Presently the map is shown in Dutch people with a correct description and in Wikimedia commons, here and in History of the Netherlands with a false and misleading description. Best to copy the correct description from Dutch people to Wikimedia commons, hither, and to History of the Netherlands article. --Pp.paul.4 (talk) 00:14, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
I changed it accordingly. Rjensen had previously altered the original description of the map everywhere (see [3], [4]). --Pp.paul.4 (talk) 00:45, 16 January 2013 (UTC)

chicken fighting???? no "cockpit of Europe" is used by hundreds of scholars & guide books[edit]

Some editors think that "Cockpit is a problematic term for any modern audience!" Of course not. It's the standard English term for nearly 400 years and has often been used for Belgium with no suggestion whatever of fighting chickens. I added a RS citation from the standard history of Belgium by Cook. Changing the historic phrase used by hundreds of scholars and current guide books to gibberish about fighting chickens is very bad editing. OI can prove it's current: it's used in Belgium - Culture Smart! !: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture (2010); Encyclopedic World Atlas (2002) - Page 52; America's War for Humanity (2010); Worldwide Destinations (2012); Understanding the Literature of World War I (2004); DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Europe (2010); Rehearsals: The German Army in Belgium, (2007) ETC etc. Rjensen (talk) 19:44, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

Yes, both "cockpit of Europe" and "battlefield of Europe" are common descriptions of Belgium in a historical context. It's rarely, if ever, called the cockfighting arena though. Fram (talk) 06:45, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
Personally I would be in favour of removing the whole sentence actually. I made the changes I did (and I wasn't the first) because:
  1. To a modern audience, Cockpit has a very different meaning to that which it had in the 1640s. Since both meanings *technically* work in the context, the problem is compounded. In effect, even if the viewer knows what both meanings are (which is far from given) it is not immediately clear which is being referred to...
  2. Also, please let's try to keep the lead free of extraneous detail (dates etc.). It's long and confusing enough as it is.
Hopefully that has made my reasoning a bit clearer.---Brigade Piron (talk) 06:49, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
The "cockpit" sources are recent ones, not ones from 1640. That the term originated then doesn't mean that it is no longer in use or understandable. You can link cockpit to Cockfight if you want, but you shouldn't change cockpit to "cockfighting arena": Belgium is "never" described as the "cockfighting arena of Europe" in reliable sources, so writing "Belgium since the Thirty Years' War has often been called the “cockfighting arena of Europe."" is simply wrong and should not be restored to the article at all. Fram (talk) 08:07, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Proposal: if battlefield of Europe is also a common term, why not use that?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 15:15, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Cockpit absolutely is a problematic term for a modern audience.
A bit of context. First, this came up already on Belgium, see also Talk:Belgium/Archive_6#Cockpit_of_Europe, though the discussion here is more in-depth. Second, as Brigade Piron pointed out, the term means something totally different now than it did at the time, and it's extremely likely to be misinterpreted. Consider for example a reputable dictionary like the Cambridge Dictionary, which doesn't mention the cockfighting meaning at all: [5]. I'm not arguing that the term is incorrect, just that it's so massively likely to be misunderstood by an overwhelming majority of the readership, that any harm caused by paraphrasing a famous quote is more than made up for by the clarity gained. Having said all that, I now think it would be most beneficial to remove the phrase entirely. Oreo Priest talk 16:02, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
No, it is not correct that "any harm caused by paraphrasing is more than made up by the clarity gained"; your version of the sentence claimed that "cockfighting arena" was often used for Belgium, while in reality it was never used. Giving the reader ambiguous but entirely correct information is hundred times better than giving them wrong information, and the ambiguity can be lessened by wikilinking it to the right meaning. Note that while the rather short Cambridge dictionary you link to may not include the meaning used here, it is included in the Oxford one[6], it is the first meaning in Merriam-Websters[7], it is included in Longman's dictionary of Contemporary English[8], in MacMillan[9], in Collins[10]... It seems that you have picked the one dictionary that doesn't include it, and missed all the others that do include it... Fram (talk) 20:46, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
I understand your concern with respect to the quotation. Removing the quotation marks can address this, or better still, we can remove it entirely.
My omission of other dictionaries was not dishonesty; I honestly only checked the dictionary I use regularly.
The problem with linking the word is that nobody clicks on a word they already know (or think they know). For ages I thought that 'cockpit of Europe' on the article Belgium was referring to a pilot's area; why would I click through if I already know (or think I do) what cockpit means? I'm sure you're not in the habit either of clicking on every link just to make sure it doesn't mean something unexpected. If 'cockpit' were merely obscure and didn't have any modern meaning, we could just link it and we wouldn't have this problem. But Brigade Piron pointed out correctly that it's very likely to confuse because the modern meaning is so widespread and even works in this context, meaning a link won't really get us anywhere. Oreo Priest talk 22:22, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
the Longman dictionary that omits the definition is for beginners in English ("Learners' Dictionary" is part of the tritle). All the standard dictionaries use it. More to the point the major current guidebooks use the "cockpit of Europe" term because it is standard across the English-speaking world in scholarship, in textbooks and in guidebooks for tourists. People come to Wikipedia to learn things and if they learn a standard ordinary definition of an English word, that is progress. No evidence whatsoever has been presented that the word would confuse anyone. Rjensen (talk) 22:34, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
That's not the point. It's a anachronism and even more than that, it's extremely confusing. Cockpit (as in aircraft) makes sense in the context. Basically, you are not getting the message across that you are trying to convey. "Standard across the English speaking world" - this is immaterial! The fact is that it is the standard term to describe a venue used for cockfighting, which the vast majority of users will know virtually nothing about - and thus does not have currency. If they come to this page, they want to learn about Belgian history - not archaic sports after all. I would certainly support Oreo's proposition that "battlefield" is used in the lead, and perhaps "cockpit" could be used later on and properly explained...---Brigade Piron (talk) 06:49, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Again, it's not an anachronism, it is an accepted current meaning of the word, used in recent books on the subject, and used in recent dictionaries as a normal meaning of "cockpit". I haev tried to rewrite the lead to make it a bit clearer. Fram (talk) 08:56, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Keeping in mind that this is about the lead, if we have battlefield already, why not just leave it at this? Fram's edit seems more appropriate for somewhere in the body of the article. But in general mentioning both terms seems to add very little to the article. I am not sure why it is being seen as such a big issue. (I do agree that the word cockpit will be confusing to even many educated readers. That a term is frequently used is not the only important thing for us to consider. Confusion is never good.)--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:35, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Were we to want to explain it anywhere, "cockpit [cockfighting arena] of Europe" (or something similar) would be appropriate. But if a quote needs square brackets to be annotated, or if it generates serious discussion about how confusing it is, it is probably not appropriate for the lead. On the other hand "battlefield of Europe" alone gets the point across well, with none of the confusion engendered by the word 'cockpit'. Oreo Priest talk 15:53, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Historians and travel guides use a famous term (for over 300 years). People need to know that. Oreo Priest still has not explained where the confusion comes in -- the dictionary that omitted the term was in fact a beginners dictionary that omitted many term used in Wikipedia. I think people come here to broaden their cultural experience. The suggestion about using "cockfighting arena" is a hilarious blooper. Rjensen (talk) 16:39, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
I guess there is a fine line between broadening cultural experiences and creating sentences people will frequently misunderstand. If cockpit were an archaic word your argument would be a bit more convincing, but cockpit today will mean the place where decisions are made and might be read as referring to the EU etc. Anyway it seems unnecessary to use the word if there is an alternative that gets it across easier?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 16:58, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
"people will frequently misunderstand" -- that the assumption I reject, as have the popular writers for example of guide books. It's an important phrase because it for centuries sharply defined B's image in the world--and indeed fits Napoleon, WWI and WWII quite well. Rjensen (talk) 17:06, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
I think no one is debating the idea of mentioning the idea that Belgium is a famous battleground. But the discussion is about word choice? --Andrew Lancaster (talk) 20:56, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
The current text is ok with me: " Due to its strategic location and the many armies fighting on its soil, Belgium since the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) has often been called the "battlefield of Europe" or the "cockpit of Europe".[1]" Rjensen (talk) 21:46, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Flag of Flanders[edit]

The flag of Flanders normally has a red tongue. If the black-tongued flag is to be called "flag of Flanders", a citation would be needed that it has indeed ever been the official Flemish flag. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:37, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

I fixed it. Oreo Priest talk 20:12, 11 February 2014 (UTC)