A History of Europe - Vol. 1

A History of Europe - Vol. 1

A History of Europe - Vol. 1

A History of Europe - Vol. 1

Excerpt

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

In the 19th century a great number of historians had delved into its archives and into those of the other European countries with which its fate had been linked; many workers had devoted themselves to the careful reconstruction of the history of the cities and the principalities of the country. But no one had undertaken to write the history of Belgium on a national plan. When those who were tempted to do so looked at the material confronting them, they saw a building-yard in utter confusion. Unending patience and devotion, honest scholarship of hundreds of local investigators had prepared the bricks of which history is built but none of them had had the vision and the audacity to erect out of that material a building that could stand criticism and that would prove to have solid foundations. A few had . . .

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