Dirk Grosemans‘ Today’s Memory
The Belgian Revolution beginning
Originally shared by Dirk Grosemans
25th August 1830 … Revolution !
On 25 August 1830, at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, an uprising followed a special performance, in honor of William I’s birthday, of Daniel Auber’s La Muette de Portici (The Mute Girl of Portici), a sentimental and patriotic opera set against Masaniello’s uprising against the Spanish masters of Naples in the 17th century. After the duet, „Amour sacré de la patrie”, (Sacred love of Fatherland) with Adolphe Nourrit in the tenor role, many audience members left the theater and joined the riots which had already begun. The crowd poured into the streets shouting patriotic slogans. The rioters swiftly took possession of government buildings. The coming days saw an explosion of the desperate and exasperated proletariat of Brussels who rallied around the newly created flag of the Brussels independence movement which was fastened to a standard with shoelaces during a streetfight and used to lead a counter-charge against the forces of Prince William.
Belgian rebels on the barricade of the Place Royale facing the Parc de Bruxelles in Brussels (1830).
William I sent his two sons, Crown-Prince William and Prince Frederik to quell the riots. The affable and moderate Crown Prince William, who represented the monarchy in Brussels, was convinced by the Estates-General on 1 September that the administrative separation of north and south was the only viable solution to the crisis. His father rejected the terms of accommodation that Prince William proposed. King William I attempted to restore the established order by force, but the 8,000 Dutch troops under Prince Frederick were unable to retake Brussels in bloody street fighting (23–26 September). The army was withdrawn to the fortresses of Maastricht, Venlo, and Antwerp, and when the Northern commander of Antwerp bombarded the town, claiming a breach of a ceasefire, the whole of the Southern provinces was incensed. Any opportunity to quell the breach was lost on 26 September when a National Congress was summoned to draw-up a Constitution and the Provisional Government was established under Charles Latour Rogier. A Declaration of Independence followed on 4 October 1830.