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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Happy Birthday, Belgium!



On behalf of the American people -- and especially this American, who happens to be in Brussels -- I wish the plucky little nation of Belgium a happy birthday on this, its national day!  Belgium, for those of you who don't know it well, took it on the chin in both world wars, falling to Germany, but the Belgians didn't quit.  They persevered, and after their liberation became key members of NATO and the EEC/EU.  Despite the recent deeping of European ties and institutions, the Belgians clearly remain proud of their own patrimony and heritage.  I wish them all the best!

9 comments:

  1. Dr.W: Post 1815 Belgium, 20th century except for the World Wars, is much unknown to me.Far back, I know of the Belgaic, either Celtic or Germanic tribes and of their eventual incorporation into Charlemagne's empire and I expect they became part of the, ehhh, flexible, Holy Roman Empire. But unison of the French, and Flemish speakers of the heretofore Spanish Netherlands was wise and inspired. Their resolution in I expect, the post Waterloo, period, both1914 and 1940, against the monstrous Boche, was exemplary.

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  2. Jack, I must admit Belgium is largely unknown to me too, and it figures almost not at all in my textbook, which is a pity. But I'm learning more during this trip for sure. Belgium frankly isn't that coherent, especially historically. As my tour guide was saying today in Ghent, once upon a time "Flanders" was huge, and could have been the nucleus of a major European power. That was not to be. Belgium is lucky it survived Dutch, French, and German depredations. It's future is uncertain, but one thing IS certain: it's a nice place to visit!

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  3. Dr. Waddy: Professional historians surely, I assume , understand both the drawbacks and advantages of the certain place in time which we all occupy. Both contemporary circumstances and the findings of the scholarship of the time must be strongly persuasive. I don't doubt at all that that makes a place like Brussels a redeeming experience.

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  4. Happy Birthday Belgium! I enjoyed a class two semesters ago; Early Medieval Europe 300-1050. The study went in great depth about the Franks and Merovingian kings (5th century), and the shift of power of the Franks to the Carolingian Empire (8th century). I quite enjoyed it. This semester it is the study of EurHS: Women of the Medieval World (440 level). Another great topic, grin.

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  5. Linda: I think the High Middle Ages, especially, are fascinating.Eleanor of Acquitaine , Margaret of Anjou, Isabel of Aragon, the blessed St. Joan of Domremy! Even, perhaps Mary Queen of Scots and Gloriana herself, the grandaughter of a late medieval King

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  6. The Middle Ages have never been my strong point, but I enjoyed learning more about the period when I wrote about it in my textbook. It's definitely under-appreciated.

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  7. D. Waddy: M. Crichton's novel Time Line offers a very plausible account of what a modern time traveler might immediately notice when going back to , perhaps, the 1300's (eg.absolute quiet and darkness at night) and throughout the book there are some very perceptive touches like that.Barbara Tuchmann's A Distant Mirror and W.Manchester's An Age Lit Only by Fire are very good in describing everyday Medieval life, for many classes.I love Medieval and Renaissance music and there is an unending supply of it on line now; how lucky we are. And of course, actually being in Middle Ages settings in the U.K. was a tremendous thrill.

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  8. To all: After actually doing some reading on Belgian, Flemish and Dutch history I can see I was just the slightest bit presumptuous in "declaring" the union of French and Flemish both to be an immediate consequence of 1815 and a "wise" thing. Yipes, I thought the history of Scotland was hard to follow!

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  9. Jack, I'm not sure either if it's a good or a bad thing that Belgium is Belgium...but somehow the Walloons and the Flemish have gotten along for two hundred years. An impressive achievement.

    I remember "Timeline". Crichton was such a wonderful author. A pity we lost him so young. Indeed, "everyday life" during the Middle Ages is almost unimaginable to us nowadays. I've read very little about the medieval era, to be honest. It's the 19th and 20th centuries that have monopolized my historical imagination, although I have a fondness for the ancient world too.

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