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The other day I read an article in a printed newspaper which explained that the British had a tradition of trying to break any continental power (links to recent news is not a coincidence).

Among the examples provided, the author argued that (paraphrasing... and translating)

Belgium was created by the British to prevent France having access to the harbours in Northern Europe, and in particular Antwerp (Anvers).

Now, it was my understanding that Begium resulted from the (de facto at the end of the 16th Century and de jure at the end of the 80 years wars in the mid-17th Century) separation of the Netherlands from the Spanish Low-Lands.

At that time the English had other things to do (like preparing a civil war), and France looked less like a menace than the Spanish (even if they were on a descending slope).

I know that towards the end of the 17th Century, Louis XIV's France fought regular wars in the region, in particular against the Netherlands, and that the two of them played some kind of "funny" games with post-Civil war England.

Later, Belgium was included in the French Empire from 1793 to 1815.

So I don't know to which time does the author refer to, but is there any documentation that indicates a strong support of England to the creation of Belgium to spite the French?


I am aware of the question

What led to the creation of Belgium?

But, if this explains the different steps of the creation of Belgium, nothing is provided regarding the specifics of my question, namely the possible implication of Great Britain and the economic influence of France.

marked as duplicate by Pieter Geerkens, Tom Au, NSNoob, Mark C. Wallace, Steve Bird Jul 22 '16 at 12:06

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • it regard the british policy was the to oppose any one power dominating europe, and major power controlling the ports of the low countries. – pugsville Jul 21 '16 at 12:11
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    Any claim that X was caused by Y in international relations is an oversimplification that obscures truth. The statement that "Belgium was created by the British.... " implies a degree of agency to the British government that is not supported by facts. Correlation does not imply causation. – Mark C. Wallace Jul 21 '16 at 12:14
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    Possibly whoever made that claim had in mind the family connection between Leopold I of Belgium and Queen Victoria. Anyhow, this seems to be a mostly harmless conspiracy theory. – Felix Goldberg Jul 21 '16 at 12:51
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is about a conspiracy theory – Pieter Geerkens Jul 22 '16 at 1:48
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    @bilbo_pingouin: At SE, "duplicate" means that the answers are duplicate, not the questions. So if the answers to the other question don't mention the English, the answer to your question is "no" by process of elimination. – Tom Au Jul 22 '16 at 13:07
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In 1830 the Netherlands was a minor power, not a great power. The Netherlands had been a rival of England in the mid 17th century but in the early 19th century it was no rival of the United Kingdom. England, Great Britain, and the UK did not like major powers controlling the nearest ports in what is now Belgium.

The 19th century Netherlands was no great power so England had no motive to break it up. When Belgium did revolt The leaders of the UK thought that was good for the UK because the power controlling the ports would now be even more minor. However, it would turn out to be bad for the UK if a major power like France managed to annex Belgium.

So the diplomatic interest of the UK was to do what it could through diplomacy to back the independence of Belgium and to oppose French moves to annex any part of Belgium.

So the UK did not conceive or give birth to Belgium but their statesmen were probably quite willing to be godparents and sponsors at the baptism.

  • In addition it can be said that when the Netherlands army defeated the Belgians in 1830 a new war loomed between the Netherlands and France. Britain and Prussia actively intervened to prevent such a war, that would inevitably become a new European war. The compromise that was acceptable to everyone except the Dutch king William, was the new kingdom of Belgium. – JRB Apr 9 at 18:05

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