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O’Connor 1Kait O’Connor Dr. CookHistory of Belgium 7 September 2014Word Count: 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. Early History of the Linguistic and Cultural DivideIn order to understand Belgium as a country, one must first understand the history of division the people of Belgium faced. 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. In the southeast was the forests of the Ardennes which was filled with animals and bandits1. Germans migrated into what is today Belgium and lived among the Celtic tribes in Belgae in western Flanders. Caesar conquered the Belgae and modern Belgium (the basins of the Scheldt and Meuse rivers) between 57 and 50 BCE after seven campaigns. However, in 270 CE, the Romans evacuated the low-lying coastal area of Flanders after a 1 Bernard A. Cook, Belgium: a History(New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2004), 1.
O’Connor 2horrible North Sea storm. They returned to build defensive structures around what would later become Brugge. Again, the Romans evacuated Flanders and pulled back out of Gallia Belgica inthe fifth century2. 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. Around 431 Tournai became the capital for theFrankish kings. Under Meroveus, a line of successors known as the Merovingians were established. In 496 Clovis, Merveus’ successor, became a Christian and received the Church’s blessing to conquer most of Gaul.