London Conference of 1830

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Lithograph on the London conference of 1830 by Honoré Daumier. Figures representing Prussia, Austria, Russia, Great Britain and France are shown discussing a text, while Holland and Belgium are hanging on the side.

The London Conference of 1830 brought together representatives of the five major European powers Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and Russia. At the conference, which began on 20 December, they recognized the success of the Belgian secession from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and permanently guaranteed Belgian independence.

Partition plans[edit]

The powers rejected the Talleyrand partition plan for Belgium, a French plan to split Belgium along language lines, and instead approved a unified and Francophone Belgian state. The Talleyrand plan was one of several ideas exploring the concept of partitioning Belgium, which was considered by some as simply a "buffer state" between France and other European nations; modern variations of the proposal include the specific separation of the areas inhabited mainly by French-speakers (Walloons) from those inhabited mainly by (Flemish) Dutch-speakers.

Dutch response[edit]

The Dutch were strongly opposed to Belgian independence, launching an (unsuccessful) invasion in 1831.[1] Not until 1839 did the Dutch accept the decision of the London conference and recognize Belgian independence.

Winners and losers[edit]

Fishman says that the London Conference was "an extraordinarily successful conference" because it "provided the institutional framework through which the leading powers of the time safeguarded the peace of Europe."[2] G. M. Trevelyan from a British standpoint called it “one of the most beneficent and difficult feats ever accomplished by our diplomacy”;[3] while the French too saw their goal of an independent Belgium, which was peacefully accepted by the other Great Powers, as being achieved.[4]

However, historians of both Belgium and the Netherlands have largely ignored it. Dutch historians see it as their nadir in the 19th century, for the loss of the southern territories shook the nation's confidence. Belgian historians see the result not as a victory, says Fishman, but as a frustrating and humiliating experience, involving the loss of territory in Luxemburg and Limburg under the settlement terms, in which the great powers allowed Belgium to come into existence.[5] [6]

Aftermath[edit]

In 1914 Germany rejected the guarantee of Belgian neutrality as a "scrap of paper,"[7] and invaded Belgium. Britain responded by declaring war.[8]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ G M Trevelyan, British History in the 19th Century (London 1922) p. 233
  2. ^ Fishman, J. S. (1971). "The London Conference of 1830". Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis (Journal for History). 84 (3): 418–428.
  3. ^ G M Trevelyan, British History in the 19th Century (London 1922) p. 232-3
  4. ^ A Cobban, A History of Modern France II (Penguin 1962) p. 95
  5. ^ Fishman, "The London Conference of 1830".
  6. ^ H Fisher, A History of Europe (London 1936) p. 892
  7. ^ Goschen, Sir Edward (4 August 1914), Primary Documents - Britain's Breaking Off of Diplomatic Relations with Germany, 4 August 1914
  8. ^ van der Essen, Léon (1920). A short history of Belgium. U. of Chicago Press. p. 158.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fishman, J. S. (1971). "The London Conference of 1830". Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis. 84 (3): 418–428.
  • Fishman, J. S. (1988). Diplomacy and Revolution: The London Conference of 1830 and the Belgian Revolt. Amsterdam: CHEV. ISBN 978-9050680035.
  • Kelly, Linda (2017). Talleyrand in London: The Master Diplomat's Last Mission. London: I. B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-78453-781-4.
  • Kossmann, E. H. (1978). The Low Countries 1780–1940. Oxford University Press. pp. 158–61.
  • Rendall, Matthew. "A Qualified Success for Collective Security: The Concert of Europe and the Belgian Crisis, 1831." Diplomacy and Statecraft 18.2 (2007): 271-295.
  • Omond, G. W. T. (1919). "The Question of the Netherlands in 1829-1830". Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. 2: 150–171. doi:10.2307/3678256. JSTOR 3678256.
  • Schroeder, Paul W. (1994). The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848. Oxford University Press. pp. 671–91. ISBN 978-0198221197.

External links[edit]

Neutrality of Belgium