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A Reading List for the Long Nineteenth Century

Pages Cultural Baggage: the Genteel World. In between: the Problem of the Middle Class. The Civilizing Process: the Morphology of Gentility. Under Control: the Genteel Body. During the 19th century, the population both expanded and urbanized. The far-right politician General Georges Boulanger arrived in While in control of Belgium, France and the Netherlands each tried to force assimilation of their national languages, but in neither case did their rule last long enough for the language to become fully entrenched across the region or for local dialects to be displaced.

In , 57 percent of Belgians spoke dialects of Dutch or Flemish as their primary language while 42 percent spoke dialects of French, such as Walloon , Picard or Gaumais. In Brussels, situated in a predominantly Dutch-speaking area, 38 percent spoke French in while 61 percent spoke Dutch; many residents spoke dialects such as Marols instead of the standard languages.

In , the area of modern-day Belgium was divided into two independently-governed polities, both part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Austrian Netherlands , which included most of the territory of modern-day Belgium, had been in existence since the end of the War of the Spanish Succession in when the Habsburg Monarchy annexed the section called the Spanish Netherlands from the Spanish branch of the house.

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It was ruled by a line of prince-bishops. Many groups were unrepresented, [16] including the bourgeoisie, industrialists and lower clergy. In a meeting at the town hall, the democrat Jean-Nicolas Bassenge called for the reinstatement of two popular mayors who had been dismissed by the prince-bishop. The Prince-Bishop was reinstated. In the Austrian Netherlands, a populist revolt called the Brabant Revolution broke out in as a result of the perceived injustices of the Austrian regime.

Emperor Joseph II's liberal reforms particularly angered Catholics, who feared a further decline in church influence, while for some his policies had not been sufficiently radical or liberal. A loose confederation of states in the region was formed as the United Belgian States.

The use of the word "Belgium" in was the first time that the term had been officially employed to denote the region since Roman times. The liberal Vonckists , led by Jan Frans Vonck , were eventually denounced and forced into exile by their conservative rivals, the Statists , led by Henri Van der Noot.

French rule in the region was marked by the rapid implementation and extension of numerous reforms which had been passed in post-Revolution France since Legal equality and state secularism were also introduced. The important University of Louvain was dissolved and re-founded without its religious status. Lambert's Cathedral. Contingents of Belgian revolutionaries had served in the French army since , but after the occupation, compulsory military conscription was extended to Belgians, , of whom were forced into the French army by The policy was extremely unpopular, and an insurrection known as the Peasants' War broke out in East Flanders and the Ardennes in in response.

The period of French rule coincided with the start of the Industrial Revolution in Belgium. As the course of the Napoleonic Wars turned, the territory was invaded by Russian and Prussian forces. In an attempt to strengthen their position in Belgium, the Austrians began to recruit a Belgian Legion of infantry, cavalry and artillery, which was merged with the Dutch army. The Hundred Days' Campaign , launched by Napoleon after his escape from exile, was largely fought in Belgium in early , and Napoleon's final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo occurred just miles from Brussels.

After Napoleon's total defeat in , the Congress of Vienna merged the French territory in Belgium with the Netherlands to form the United Kingdom of the Netherlands as a buffer state against the French. The period of Dutch rule saw growing hostility between the Catholic Belgian provinces and the predominantly Protestant Dutch. The Belgian provinces also complained that they were underrepresented by the Kingdom's system of government, where 55 Belgian deputies were allocated to represent 3. Liberals in Belgium also accused William of attacking personal and religious freedoms.

The Belgian Revolution broke out on 25 August , after the performance of a nationalist opera La muette de Portici in Brussels led to a minor insurrection among the capital's bourgeoisie, who sang patriotic songs and captured some public buildings in the city.

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This early revolutionary group was swelled by a large number of urban workers. The following day, the revolutionaries began flying their own flag, clearly influenced by that of the Brabant Revolution of The situation in Brussels led to widespread unrest across the country. William I rejected his son 's advice to negotiate with the rebels, forcing them towards a more radical, pro-independence stance, and sent a large military force to Brussels suppress the insurrection.

Between 23 and 27 September , heavy fighting took place between Dutch forces and Brussels revolutionaries, who were reinforced by small contingents from across the country. The Dutch were eventually forced to retreat. Dutch garrisons were pushed out of the area, until only Antwerp and Luxembourg remained occupied. In December, international governments at the Conference of London recognized the independence of Belgium and guaranteed its neutrality. In November , a National Congress was established to create a Belgian constitution.


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Fears of mob rule associated with republicanism after the French Revolution of , as well as the example of the recent July Revolution in France, led the Congress to decide that Belgium would be a popular , constitutional monarchy. The Congress approached several candidates, but chose Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha , a minor but well-connected German noble, to be the first King of the Belgians.

He was officially inaugurated on 21 July , after taking an oath to abide by the Constitution. Leopold I was generally unsatisfied with the amount of power allocated to the monarch, and sought to extend it wherever the Constitution was ambiguous or unclear while generally avoiding involvement in routine politics. The Constitution developed by the National Congress was implemented in July It guaranteed individual liberty , property rights, freedom of religion and the press , and equality before the law. Despite the Congress of London's verdict in , the Dutch continued to resist Belgian independence for much of Leopold I's early reign.

The 50,strong Dutch force crossed the border and rapidly pushed the small Belgian army back as far as Leuven. In the French pushed the Dutch out of Antwerp , their final garrison in Belgium. Much of the city was destroyed in the fighting. Politics in Belgium under Leopold I were polarized between liberal and Catholic political factions, though before they collaborated in unionist governments.

The liberals held power over much of Leopold I's reign. An official Liberal Party was formed in , although a formal Catholic Party was only established in Gradually, these political groups would also spread into Belgium's society, creating a process of social stratification known as pillarisation. Leopold, who was Protestant, tended to favor Liberals and shared their desire for reform, though he was not partisan. Leopold I's reign was marked by an economic crisis which lasted until the late s.

The Netherlands and the Dutch colonies , which had been profitable markets for Belgian manufacturers before , were totally closed to Belgian goods. The period has been described as the "worst years of Flemish history". By , Belgium was suffering from economic destabilization as Belgian exporters faced increasing competition from new British firms.

Shortly after the revolution in France , Belgian migrant workers living in Paris were encouraged to return to Belgium to overthrow the monarchy and establish a republic. The situation stabilized that summer after a good harvest, and fresh elections returned a strong Liberal majority. Leopold II was sworn in as king of the Belgians in It was characterized by the resurgence of the Catholic Party, political confrontation over military action, educational and franchise reform and his creation of a personal empire in Central Africa.

One of Leopold's long-term preoccupations was increasing the international standing and influence of his country.


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Throughout much of his early reign, Leopold hoped to regain the territories which had been ceded to the Netherlands in , particularly Luxembourg, which he viewed as an integral piece of Belgian territory. From the s, he tried to persuade several Belgian prime ministers to support the creation of an overseas colony in the Far East or Africa to increase Belgian wealth and political influence.

The Southern Middle Class in the Long Nineteenth Century

Most of these projects were focused in Brussels, where he constructed two large palaces, [c] and Ostende , where a vast colonnaded arcade was built along the seafront in an attempt to turn the town into a fashionable seaside resort. Politically, Leopold disliked the Socialist party , preferring to negotiate with the Catholic Party, which held power for much of his reign.

He was widely distrusted by politicians, who saw him as meddling in state business and seeking to expand the power of the monarchy.

Towards the end of his reign, public awareness of the atrocities committed under his colonial regime, as well as his marital infidelity , led to a significant fall the monarchy's popularity. Following his death in December , his funeral cortege was booed. Although Belgium was officially neutral throughout his reign, significant numbers of Belgians volunteered to fight for right-wing causes abroad.

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From , large numbers of Belgian Catholic volunteers went to Italy in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to defend the independence of the Papal States against Giuseppe Garibaldi 's revolutionaries. The Zouaves, as they were known, were ultimately unsuccessful and the Papal States fell in When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in July , Belgium was confronted with the greatest threat to its independence since The issue became known as the "Belgian Question".

As the conflict began, Leopold and his advisors believed that either France or Prussia might try to outflank their opponent by disregarding Belgian neutrality and launching an invasion. As French troops moved towards the border, panic ensued in Belgium. The national gold reserves were evacuated to the National Redoubt fortress at Antwerp.

Leopold viewed a strong military as the key to maintaining Belgian independence against France and, after the Franco-Prussian War, an expansionist Germany. Reform was opposed by both the Liberal and Catholic Parties, which viewed the army with suspicion and Remplacement as a key civil right. This was the last legal document signed before Leopold's death. Although military reform was delayed until the end of his reign, Leopold did succeed in convincing parliament of the need to extend Belgium's defenses.

Construction of fortresses along the border by both the French and Germans in the mids worried the Belgian government that their country might be used as an invasion route. In , a program of fortification construction began along the Sambre and Meuse rivers. The political rivalry between Liberal and Catholic parties peaked between and , when they clashed on the issue of religion in primary education. New "neutral" schools funded by the local communes with assistance from national government were to be established in all municipalities, while Catholic schools were to receive no support at all.

Though 3, secular schools opened across the country by , attendance in private Catholic schools rose from 13 percent to over 60 percent of eligible students. After elections in , a Catholic government under Jules Malou passed a new Education Law providing public financial support for religious schools. Religious education became compulsory in all schools in Even before his accession to the throne in , Leopold began lobbying leading Belgian politicians to create a colonial empire in the Far East or Africa, which would expand Belgian prestige.

Belgium does not need a colony. Belgians are not drawn towards overseas enterprises: they prefer to spend their energy and capital in countries which have already been explored or on less risky schemes Still, you can assure His Majesty of my whole-hearted sympathy for the generous plan he had conceived, as long as the Congo does not make any international difficulties for us. Determined to look for a colony for himself and inspired by recent reports from central Africa, Leopold began patronizing a number of leading explorers, including Henry Morton Stanley.

France in the long nineteenth century

Leopold, however, reneged on his humanitarian promises, and instead brutally exploited the locals and the land to gain what profit he could. In some cases, Congolese people who failed to meet their quota were killed or had one of their hands cut off. The system was immensely profitable, but the population of the Congo is thought to have been reduced by as many as ten million during the period that the colony was under Leopold's control. Eventually, growing scrutiny of Leopold's regime led to a popular campaign movement , centered in Britain and America, to force Leopold to renounce his ownership of the Congo.

The "Belgian solution" they proposed was for Belgium to annex it in order to end the overexploitation without disrupting the delicate balance of power in colonial Africa. In , as a direct result of this campaign, Belgium formally annexed the territory, creating the Belgian Congo. The reign of Leopold II saw the rise of organized socialist political groups and parties, most notably among the industrial workers in Wallonia. The early socialist movement was characterized by a successful co-operative movement in Flanders. Trade unions were legalized in , opening the way to organized labor politics.

The small numbers of workers who were allowed to vote in general elections meant that it achieved little success via conventional political channels. There exists but one country in the civilised world where every strike is eagerly and joyously turned into a pretext for the official massacre of the Working Class. That country of single blessedness is Belgium! His next project explores the history of Seabrook Farms, an agribusiness and company town in southern New Jersey that recruited interned Japanese Americans, guestworkers from the British West Indies, and European refugees during the s.

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  4. Description Authors Praise The history of domestic labor markets in 19th century America. From the era of Irish Famine migration to the passage of quota restrictions in the s, household domestic service was the single largest employer of women in the United States, and, in California, a pivotal occupation for male Chinese immigrants. Servants of both sexes accounted for eight percent of the total labor force — about one million people. In Brokering Servitude, Andrew Urban offers a history of these domestic servants, focusing on how Irish immigrant women, Chinese immigrant men, and American-born black women navigated the domestic labor market in the nineteenth century — a market in which they were forced to grapple with powerful racial and gendered discrimination.

    Through vivid examples like how post-famine Irish immigrants were enlisted to work as servants in exchange for relief, this book examines how race, citizenship, and the performance of domestic labor relate to visions of American expansion.