De Grootste Belg

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Father Damian in 1873, before he left for Molokai. He was voted the "Greatest Belgian" in 2005.

De Grootste Belg (The Greatest Belgian) was a 2005 vote conducted by Belgian public TV broadcaster Canvas, public radio broadcaster Radio 1, and newspaper De Standaard,[1] to determine who is the Greatest Belgian of all time. It could be considered as a Flemish list, considering that Walloon broadcast RTBF also held a vote, Le plus grand Belge. Nominees needed to have lived between 50 BC and now, between the borders of present-day Belgium. This is because Belgium only gained its independence in 1830, while numerous historical individuals from, for example, the Spanish Netherlands, are considered to be "Belgians".

An initial list of 111 names (100 decided by a panel, 11 added by the public after a preliminary poll) was set online.[2] People could vote for their favourites to reduce the longlist to a shortlist of ten.[3] After the first television show, the final list of ten nominees was announced. Two of them, Ambiorix and Conscience, came out of the 11 names chosen by the public instead of the 100 chosen by the panel. The ten finalists were each presented on Canvas with a documentary, their nomination defended by famous Flemish people.[4]

On 1 December 2005, Pater Damiaan was announced as the winner of the "De Grootste Belg" poll, beating Paul Janssen and Eddy Merckx.[5]

Top 10[edit]

  1. Father Damien (1840–1889), priest and humanitarian: nomination defended by lawyer Jef Vermassen
  2. Paul Janssen (1926–2003), physician: nomination defended by television presenter Frieda Van Wijck
  3. Eddy Merckx (1945–), cyclist: nomination defended by sports journalist and television presenter Mark Uytterhoeven
  4. Ambiorix (1st century BC), Gaulish chieftain: nomination defended by comedian and writer Patrick de Witte
  5. Adolf Daens (1839–1907), priest, activist and humanitarian: nomination defended by minister Inge Vervotte
  6. Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564), physician and creator of modern anatomy: nomination defended by professor Robrecht Van Hee
  7. Jacques Brel (1929–1978), singer: nomination defended by singer Johan Verminnen
  8. Gerardus Mercator (1512–1594), cartographer: nomination defended by biologist Dirk Draulans
  9. Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), painter: nomination defended by comics artist Herr Seele
  10. Hendrik Conscience (1812–1883), author of the Flemish nationalistic novel The Lion of Flanders: nomination defended by journalist and historian Marc Reynebeau


  1. ^ "De Grootste Belg". De Standaard (in Dutch). Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "Webmaster seniorennet op kop in Grootste Belg-poll". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 15 April 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Merckx en Brel maken kans op titel 'Grootste Belg'". Trouw (in Dutch). Novum. 25 October 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Wie wordt de Grootste Belg". het Nieuwsblad. 25 October 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Pater Damiaan "de Grootste Belg aller tijden"". NOS (in Dutch). 2 December 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2011.