History of Belgium:Its People, Culture, and Government Belgium is a country that has been divided culturally and politically. Since 150,000 BCEBelgium has been inhabited; however, the country does not enter written history until Caesar conquered Belgium with the Celts moving around West Flanders. Belgium is not a nation. It is acountry with a constitutional monarchy. Belgium is not a unitary state and it has no single national language. Belgium consists of Dutch, French, and German speaking people. The population is 58% Flemish, 31% Walloon, and 11% other. Belgium has developed into the country that it is today due to its cultural and linguistic division, Flemish nationalism, and the change of power occurring throughout its history. Before the Middle Ages, Belgium was divided geographically. Flanders was a marshy area of water which ran through the Senne, Dijle, Leie, and Scheldt rivers. Southeast had the forests of the Ardennes which was filled with animals and bandits1. Germans migrated into whathas become Belgium and lived among the Celtic tribes in Belgae (western Flanders). Caesar conquered the Belgae and modern Belgium (the basins of the Scheldt and Meuse rivers) between57 and 50 BCE after seven campaigns. However, in 270 CE, the Romans evacuated the low-lying coastal area of Flanders after a North Sea storm. They returned to build defensive structures around what would become Bruges. Again, the Romans evacuated Flanders and pulled back out of Gallia Belgica in the fifth century2. 1 Bernard A. Cook, Belgium: a History(New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2004), 1.2 Cook. 2.
In the third century, German tribes migrated into Gallia Belgica. The Franks established themselves in Batavia (present day Netherlands) and Kempen (present day Belgium). The Romans accepted the Franks as mercenary allies. Under Meroveus, a line of successors known as the Merovingians were established. In 496 Clovis became a Christian and received the Church’s blessing to conquer most of Gaul. Roman authority was lost as the Frankish populationdominated the area of the lower Scheldt and the Leie. Yet, the Franks were absorbed by the Celtsin the south. The Silva Carbonara (running from the Rhine to the North Sea) was the dividing line between the Franks and Romanized Celts, called the Wala3. Wala refers to “old German wealth, foreigner or Celt4” in Welsh.