United Kingdom of the Netherlands

The United Kingdom of the Netherlands (Dutch: Verenigd Koninkrijk der Nederlanden; French: Royaume-Uni des Pays-Bas) is the unofficial name given to the Kingdom of the Netherlands as it existed between 1815 and 1839. The United Netherlands was created in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars through the fusion of territories that had belonged to the former Dutch Republic, Austrian Netherlands, and Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The polity was a constitutional monarchy, ruled by William I of the House of Orange-Nassau.

The polity collapsed in 1830 with the outbreak of the Belgian Revolution. With the de facto secession of Belgium, the Netherlands was left as a rump state and refused to recognise Belgian independence until 1839 when the Treaty of London was signed, fixing the border between the two states and guaranteeing Belgian independence and neutrality as the Kingdom of Belgium.

United Kingdom of the Netherlands

Verenigd Koninkrijk der Nederlanden  (Dutch)
Royaume-Uni des Pays-Bas  (French)
Motto: "Je maintiendrai" (French)
"I will uphold"
Wien Neêrlands Bloed
"Those in whom Dutch blood"
Location of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (dark green) in 1815 in Europe (dark grey). The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (light green) is also shown.
Location of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (dark green) in 1815 in Europe (dark grey). The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (light green) is also shown.
CapitalAmsterdam and Brussels
Common languagesDutch (official) and French (official in Wallonia)
Dutch Reformed
Roman Catholic
GovernmentConstitutional monarchy
• 1815–1839
William I
LegislatureStates General
House of Representatives
Historical eraLate modern period
16 March 1815
24 August 1815
25 August 1830
19 April 1839
CurrencyDutch guilder
ISO 3166 codeNL
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands
First French Empire
Kingdom of the Netherlands
Duchy of Limburg


Before the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802), the Low Countries was a patchwork of different polities created by the Eighty Years' War (1568-1648). The Dutch Republic in the north was independent; the Southern Netherlands was split between the Austrian Netherlands and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège[1] - the former being part of Habsburg Austria, while both were part of the Holy Roman Empire. In the aftermath of the French Revolution, the War of the First Coalition broke out in 1792 and France was invaded by Prussia and the Holy Roman Empire. After two years of fighting, the Austrian Netherlands and Liège were captured by the French in 1794 and annexed into France.[2] The Dutch Republic collapsed in 1795 and became a French client state.

Creation of the United Netherlands

The Wedding of The Netherlands and Belgium
A British cartoon, satirising the "wedding" of Belgium and the Netherlands at the Congress of Vienna

In 1813, the Netherlands was liberated from French rule by Prussian and Russian troops during the Napoleonic Wars. It was taken for granted that any new regime would have to be headed by the son of the last Dutch stadhouder, William Frederik of Orange-Nassau. A provisional government was formed, most of whose members had helped drive out the House of Orange 18 years earlier. However, they realised that it would be better in the long term to offer leadership of the new government to William Frederik themselves rather than have him imposed by the allies. Accordingly, William Frederick was installed as the "sovereign prince" of a new Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands. The future of the Southern Netherlands, however, was less clear. In June 1814, the Great Powers secretly agreed to the Eight Articles of London which allocated the region to the Dutch as William had advocated. That August, William Frederik was made Governor-General of the Southern Netherlands and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège–almost all of what is now Belgium. For all intents and purposes, William Frederik had completed his family's three-century dream of uniting the Low Countries under a single rule.

Discussions on the future of the region were still ongoing at the Congress of Vienna when Napoleon attempted to return to power in the "Hundred Days". William used the occasion to declare himself king on 16 March 1815 as William I. After the Battle of Waterloo, discussions continued.

In exchange for the Southern Netherlands, William agreed to cede the Principality of Orange-Nassau and parts of the Liège to Prussia on 31 May 1815. In exchange, William also gained control over the Duchy of Luxembourg, which was elevated to a grand duchy and placed in personal and political union with the Netherlands, though it remained part of the German Confederation.


Constitution and government

Though the United Netherlands was a constitutional monarchy, the king retained significant control as head of state and head of government. Beneath the king was a bicameral legislature known as the States General with a Senate and House of Representatives. From the start, the administrative system proved controversial. Representation in the 110-seat House of Representatives, for example, was divided equally between south and north, although the former had a larger population. This was resented in the south, which believed that the government was dominated by northerners.

Portret van Willem I, koning der Nederlanden Rijksmuseum SK-C-1460.jpeg
King William I, depicted in 1819


Map of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands

The United Netherlands was divided into 17 provinces and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg which was constitutionally distinct. Many were based on the pre-existing départements, established by the French. They included:

The United Netherlands was also a colonial power with overseas colonies in the East Indies and elsewhere.

Economic policy

Hollandse troepen trekken door de vestingstad Dendermonde Rijksmuseum SK-A-4664.jpeg
Dutch troops in the Flemish town of Dendermonde in 1820

Economically, the United Netherlands prospered. Supported by the state, the Industrial Revolution began to affect the Southern Netherlands where a number of modern industries emerged, encouraged by figures such as John Cockerill who created the steel industry in Wallonia. Antwerp emerged as major trading port.

William I actively supported economic modernisation. Modern universities were established at Leuven, Liège, and Ghent in 1817. Lower education was also extended. The General Netherlands Society for Advancing National Industry (Algemeene Nederlandsche Maatschappij ter Begunstiging van de Volksvlijt) was created in 1822 to encourage industrialisation in the south, while the Netherlands Trading Society (Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij) was created in 1825 to encourage trade with the colonies. William I also embarked on a programme of canal building that saw the creation of the North Holland, Ghent–Terneuzen and Brussels–Charleroi canals.

Regional tensions

Differences between Southern and Northern Netherlands were never totally effaced. The two were divided by the issue of religion because the south was strongly Roman Catholic and the north largely Dutch Reformed.[3] The Catholic Church in Belgium resented the state's encroachment on its traditional privileges, especially in education. In French-speaking parts of the south, attempts to enforce the use of Dutch language were particularly resented among the elite.[4] Many Belgians believed that the United Netherlands' constitution discriminated against them. Though they represented 62 percent of the population, they were only allocated 50 percent of the seats in the House and less in the Senate while the state extracted money from the richer south to subsidise the north. By the mid-1820s, a union of opposition had formed in Belgium, uniting liberals and Catholic conservatives against Dutch rule.

Belgian Revolution and secession

Révolution belge de 1830 - La rue de Flandre le jeudi 23 septembre 1830
Fighting between Belgian rebels and the Dutch military expedition in Brussels in September 1830

The Belgian Revolution broke out on 25 August 1830, inspired by the recent July Revolution in France. A military intervention in September failed to defeat the rebels in Brussels, radicalising the movement. Belgium was declared an independent state on 4 October 1830. A constitutional monarchy was established under King Leopold I.

William I refused to accept the secession of Belgium. In August 1831, he launched the Ten Days' Campaign, a major military offensive into Belgium. Though initially successful, the French intervened to support the Belgians and the invasion had to be abandoned.[5] After a period of tension, a settlement was agreed at the Treaty of London in 1839. The Dutch recognised Belgian independence, in exchange for territorial concessions.[6] The frontier between the two countries was finally fixed by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1843. Luxembourg became an autonomous state in personal union with the Dutch, though ceding some territory to Belgium.

See also


  1. ^ S Marteel, The Intellectual Origins of the Belgian Revolution (2018) p. 23
  2. ^ A W Ward, The Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy 1783-1919 Vol I (Cambridge 1922) p. 263
  3. ^ S Marteel, The Intellectual Origins of the Belgian Revolution (2018) p. 4
  4. ^ D Richards, Modern Europe (London 1964) p. 86-7
  5. ^ D Richards, Modern Europe (London 1964) p. 88
  6. ^ D Richards, Modern Europe (London 1964) p. 89


  • Kossmann, E.H. (1988). The Low Countries, 1780-1940. Oxford: Clarendon. ISBN 9780198221081.

External links

Albert Joseph Goblet d'Alviella

Albert Joseph, Count Goblet d'Alviella (26 May 1790 – 5 May 1873) was an officer in the army of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. After the Belgian Revolution, he became a politician and served as Prime Minister of Belgium.

Alexandre Gendebien

Alexandre Joseph Célestin Gendebien (Mons, 4 May 1789 - Brussels, 6 December 1869) was a lawyer in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and later Belgium, where he also became minister of Justice.

He played an important role during the Belgian Revolution, together with his colleague Sylvain Van de Weyer. He was a proponent of Belgian union with France, and adversary of William I of the Netherlands.

Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814

The Anglo–Dutch Treaty of 1814 (also known as the Convention of London) was a treaty signed between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands in London on 13 August 1814. It was signed by Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh for the British and Hendrik Fagel for the Dutch.

Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824

The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, also known as the Treaty of London, was a treaty signed between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in London on 17 March 1824. The treaty was to resolve disputes arising from the execution of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814. For the Dutch, it was signed by Hendrik Fagel and Anton Reinhard Falck, and for the UK, George Canning and Charles Williams-Wynn.

Belgian Revolution

The Belgian Revolution (French: Révolution belge, Dutch: Belgische Revolutie/opstand/omwenteling) was the conflict which led to the secession of the southern provinces (mainly the former Southern Netherlands) from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the establishment of an independent Kingdom of Belgium.

The people of the south were mainly Dutch-speaking Flemings and French-speaking Walloons. Both peoples were traditionally Roman Catholic as contrasted with the largely Protestant (Dutch Reformed) people of the north. Many outspoken liberals regarded King William I's rule as despotic. There were high levels of unemployment and industrial unrest among the working classes.On 25 August 1830, riots erupted in Brussels and shops were looted. Theatregoers who had just watched the nationalistic opera La muette de Portici joined the mob. Uprisings followed elsewhere in the country. Factories were occupied and machinery destroyed. Order was restored briefly after William committed troops to the Southern Provinces but rioting continued and leadership was taken up by radicals, who started talking of secession.Dutch units saw the mass desertion of recruits from the southern provinces and pulled out. The States-General in Brussels voted in favour of secession and declared independence. In the aftermath, a National Congress was assembled. King William refrained from future military action and appealed to the Great Powers. The resulting 1830 London Conference of major European powers recognized Belgian independence. Following the installation of Leopold I as "King of the Belgians" in 1831, King William made a belated attempt to reconquer Belgium and restore his position through a military campaign. This "Ten Days' Campaign" failed because of French military intervention. Not until 1839 did the Dutch accept the decision of the London conference and Belgian independence by signing the Treaty of London.

County of Namur

Namur (Dutch: Namen) was a county of the Carolingian and later Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries. Its territories largely correspond with the present-day Belgian arrondissement Namur plus the northwestern part of the arrondissement Dinant, both part of the modern province of Namur, and previously part of the French Republican department of Sambre-et-Meuse.

Dyle (department)

Dyle [dil] was a department of the First French Empire in present-day Belgium. It was named after the river Dyle (Dijle), which flows through the department. Its territory corresponded more or less with that of the Belgian province of Brabant, now divided into Walloon Brabant, Flemish Brabant and the Brussels-Capital Region. Its capital was Brussels.

The department came into existence on 1 October 1795, after the Southern Netherlands were occupied by the French. The department of Dyle was formed from the southern part of the Duchy of Brabant, part of the County of Hainaut, (Halle) and some smaller territories. See the 130 departments of the Napoleonic Empire.

The department was subdivided into the following arrondissements and cantons (situation in 1812):

Brussels, cantons: Anderlecht, Asse, Brussels (4 cantons), Halle, La Hulpe, Sint-Martens-Lennik, Sint-Stevens-Woluwe, Uccle, Vilvoorde and Wolvertem.

Leuven, cantons: Aarschot, Diest, Glabbeek, Grez, Haacht, Leuven (2 cantons), Tienen (2 cantons) and Zoutleeuw.

Nivelles, cantons: Genappe, Herne, Jodoigne, Nivelles (2 cantons), Perwez and Wavre.Its population in 1812 was 431,969, and its area was 342,848 hectares.After the defeat of Napoleon the department became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, as the province of (South) Brabant.

List of diplomats of the United Kingdom to the Netherlands

The Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Netherlands is the United Kingdom's foremost diplomatic representative in the Netherlands, and head of the UK's diplomatic mission in the Netherlands. The official title is Her Britannic Majesty's Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Since the formation in 1997 of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is located in The Hague, the British Ambassador to the Netherlands has also been the UK's Permanent Representative to the OPCW, assisted by a Chemical Weapons team at the Embassy.Besides the embassy in The Hague, the UK also maintains a consulate general in Amsterdam.

List of wars involving Belgium

This article is an incomplete list of wars and conflicts involving Belgium and its colonial empire since its secession and independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1830.

Lys (department)

Lys [lis] was a department of the First French Empire in present-day Belgium. It was named after the river Lys (Leie). It was created on 1 October 1795, when the Southern Netherlands were annexed by France. Before its occupation, its territory was part of the county of Flanders. Its capital was Bruges.

The department was subdivided into the following arrondissements and cantons (situation in 1812):

Bruges, cantons: Ardooie, Bruges (5 cantons), Gistel, Ostend, Ruiselede, Tielt and Torhout (2 cantons).

Kortrijk, cantons: Avelgem, Harelbeke, Ingelmunster, Kortrijk (4 cantons), Menen, Meulebeke, Moorsele, Oostrozebeke and Roeselare.

Veurne, cantons: Diksmuide, Haringe, Nieuwpoort and Veurne.

Ypres, cantons: Elverdinge, Hooglede, Mesen, Passendale, Poperinge, Wervik and Ypres (2 cantons).Its population in 1812 was 491,143, and its area was 366,911 hectares.After Napoleon was defeated in 1814, the department became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its territory corresponded more or less with the present-day Belgian province of West Flanders.

Monarchy of Luxembourg

The Grand Duke of Luxembourg is the monarchical head of state of Luxembourg. Luxembourg has been a grand duchy since 15 March 1815, when it was created from territory of the former Duchy of Luxembourg. It was in personal union with the United Kingdom of the Netherlands until 1890 under the House of Orange-Nassau. Luxembourg is the world's only sovereign grand duchy and since 1815, there have been nine monarchs, including the incumbent, Henri.

Neutral zone (territorial entity)

A neutral zone is a delimited zone bordering at least one of the states that has agreed to set up a neutral territory. This has occurred in the past and/or present for:

Neutral Ground (Louisiana), a disputed area between Spanish Texas and the United States' newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, from 1806 to 1821.

Neutral Moresnet, a 19th-century neutral zone between the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (and later Belgium) and Prussia (and later the German Empire).

in the colonial era, the neutral zone between Thailand and French Indochina, 25 kilometres wide (roughly 15.5 miles) on the east bank of the Mekong, was placed under French control but formally remained under Thai sovereignty

the Saudi–Iraqi neutral zone

the Saudi–Kuwaiti neutral zone

the neutral zones between Morocco and Ceuta and Melilla


United Nations Conciliation Commission's Government House in Jerusalem, which existed as a mediation center after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War

Mount Vernon historic site, home of George Washington, during the US Civil War

a strip of land in between Macau's Portas do Cerco and China's Kung-pei (Gongbei).In many cases, a neutral zone is also a demilitarized zone.

Orangism (Belgium)

Orangism was a political current in what is now Belgium that supported its inclusion in the short-lived United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815–1830). After the secession of Belgium in 1830, Orangist sentiment in Flanders and Wallonia for a time sought a restoration of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was a movement directed by William I of the Netherlands as part of his "Volhardingspolitiek" and containing most of the Belgian elites (nobility, industrials). Some of the most prominent Flemish Orangists were Jan Frans Willems and Hippolyte Metdepenningen. Although refusing to participate in parliamentary elections as they deemed Belgian national institutions as illegitimate, the Orangists did take part in local elections (province and municipal) from which they activated against the new Belgian state through political actions and an activist press. At least three Orangist coups were foiled during the 1830s. Although losing Dutch financial and political support after the Treaty of London (1839) and William I's abdication (1840), the weakening Belgian Orangism survived well into the 1850s, strongly opposing the Belgian Revolution and rallying against independence.It was one inspiration for the later Greater Netherlands movement, although that movement was not all monarchist.

Province of Brabant

The Province of Brabant was a province in Belgium from 1830 to 1995. It was created in 1815 as South Brabant, part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 1995, it was split into the Dutch-speaking Flemish Brabant, the French-speaking Walloon Brabant and the bilingual Brussels-Capital Region.

Province of Limburg (1815–39)

Limburg was one of the provinces of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and later Belgium. The province existed for the duration of the United Kingdom, from 1815 to 1830, and for the first years after the Belgian independence, from 1830 to 1839. When King William I signed the Treaty of London in 1839, the province was split into a Belgian, and a Dutch part, the new Duchy of Limburg.


Sambre-et-Meuse ([sɑ̃bʁ.e.møz]; Dutch: Samber en Maas) was a department of the First French Empire in present-day Belgium. It was named after the rivers Sambre and Meuse. Its capital was Namur.

The department came into existence in 1795, when the Southern Netherlands were occupied by the French. It was formed from most of the county of Namur and parts of the bishopric of Liège and the duchies of Brabant and Luxembourg.

After Napoleon was defeated in 1814, the department was dissolved and later it became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its territory is now divided between the Belgian provinces of Namur and Luxembourg (a small part).

The department was subdivided into the following arrondissements and cantons (situation in 1812):

Namur, cantons: Andenne, Dhuy, Fosses, Gembloux and Namur (2 cantons).

Dinant, cantons: Beauraing, Ciney, Dinant, Florennes and Walcourt.

Marche, cantons: Durbuy, Erezée, Havelange, La Roche, Marche and Rochefort.

Saint-Hubert, cantons: Gedinne, Nassogne, Saint-Hubert and Wellin.

Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands

The Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands (Dutch, old spelling: Souverein Vorstendom der Vereenigde Nederlanden) was a short-lived sovereign principality and the precursor of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, in which it was reunited with the Southern Netherlands in 1815. The principality was proclaimed in 1813 when the victors of the Napoleonic Wars established a political reorganisation of Europe, which would eventually be defined by the Congress of Vienna.

Treaty of London (1839)

The Treaty of London of 1839, also called the First Treaty of London, the Convention of 1839, the Treaty of Separation, the Quintuple Treaty of 1839, or the Treaty of the XXIV articles, was a treaty signed on 19 April 1839 between the Concert of Europe, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Belgium. It was a direct follow-up to the 1831 Treaty of the XVIII Articles which the Netherlands had refused to sign, and the result of negotiations at the London Conference of 1838–1839.Under the treaty, the European powers recognized and guaranteed the independence and neutrality of Belgium and established the full independence of the German-speaking part of Luxembourg. Article VII required Belgium to remain perpetually neutral, and by implication committed the signatory powers to guard that neutrality in the event of invasion.

Treaty of the Eighteen Articles

The Treaty of the Eighteen Articles was a proposal for a treaty between Belgium and the Netherlands to establish borders between the two countries.

The initial proposal was finalised in London on 26 June 1831.

Netherlands articles
Belgium Belgian Revolution and the Independence of Belgium (1830–39)
Belgian Revolution
First Belgian monarchs
Important figures
Provisional Government
de Gerlache Government
Lebeau I Government
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Monuments and honours

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