A History of Europe: From the Invasions to the XVI Century

A History of Europe: From the Invasions to the XVI Century

A History of Europe: From the Invasions to the XVI Century

A History of Europe: From the Invasions to the XVI Century

Excerpt

No country in Western Europe has had such a tormented,complicated and dramatic history as Belgium. Wedged in betweenFrance, Germany and England, she constantly suffered from thepolitical pressure these large powers exerted on her while, at thesame time, deriving profit from their cultural influences. Constantly solicited by her neighbors when not under actual militaryattack by them, the country succeeded in keeping its own character and nationality. As a borderland and sometimes a bufferstate, its history is intimately connected with all the conflicts,political as well as ideological, that have divided Europe in thepast. Until it reached its complete independence in 1830, it hadbeen a pawn in power politics in Western Europe for over threecenturies.

In the 19th century a great number of historians had delvedinto its archives and into those of the other European countrieswith which its fate had been linked; many workers had devotedthemselves to the careful reconstruction of the history of thecities and the principalities of the country. But no one had undertaken to write the history of Belgium on a national plan. Whenthose who were tempted to do so looked at the material confronting them, they saw a building-yard in utter confusion. Unendingpatience and devotion, honest scholarship of hundreds of localinvestigators had prepared the bricks of which history is builtbut none of them had had the vision and the audacity to erectout of that material a building that could stand criticism and thatwould prove to have solid foundations. A few had tried to writea preliminary synthesis but their efforts were clumsy and whatthey produced was, at best, a readable essay which often expressed . . .

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