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The suppression of the Flemish language is very old. It began with the government of the House of Burgundy and continued under all changes of government. It was very severe under the Spanish and Austrian yoke1), but most severe under that of the French Republic and the French Empire2).


When, as a result of the London treaty of 7 June 1815, Belgium was united with Holland, under the name of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and under the government of WILLEM I of Orange, the Flemish language, which was and is actually no other than the Dutch, restored to its rights 3).


It, the mother tongue of the majority of the population, was recognized as the language of state, law and education, while the French language encountered no obstacles in the French- and Walloon-speaking parts of the country4). Unfortunately, this, the first, happy opportunity for the free use of the mother tongue for centuries, was ignored.


The fear of the Catholic clergy for Protestant, generally free ideas, which could spread for a language and literature common to the Dutch; furthermore, the self-interested turbulence of foreigners and the jealousy of other States towards the development of the young empire into a powerful neighbor, which could even put the sole rule of the sea in the balance, finally the errors and rashness of the Dutch government itself brought it to this point, that it became possible that in the year 1830 Belgium forcibly separated from Holland and, despite all treaties, this separation came about. The Belgian Congress elevated Prince LEOPOLD of Saxe-Coburg as King on June 4, 1831, and the mediating powers recognized Belgium as a Kingdom on November 15 of the same year.

Since mainly the French and Walloon population had been active during the revolution, and the French had helped them kindly as neighbors, the French element naturally retained the upper hand in the new organization of affairs, and the Flemish agreed to this, partly out of fear, partly out of blindness. Everything was organized in the French manner: French court, French money, French law and order, French legislation, French administration, French law, French military, French academies, French colleges, French schools! The French language became that of the State, despite the fact that the 23rd article of the State regulation reads: "L'Emploi des langues usitées en Belgique est facultatif; il ne" être reglé que par la loi, et seulement pour les acts de l'autorité publique et pour les affaires judiciaires1).

1) Already on October 16, 1830, the Provisional Administration for the army decreed: "La langue française, étant la plus généralement répandue en Belgique, sera la seule employée dans les commandements," and urged this again on 27 October 1830. It ordered the 16th of November 1830: "Le bulletin officiel des lois et actes du gouvernement sera publié en français."


Only the governors in the Flemish and German regions were allowed to add a translation to the announcements. On February 7, 1831, the constitutional regulation came with the 23rd article, which is open to arbitrary interpretation! King LEOPOLD finally determined with regard to "the sanction and promulgation" of the law: "Les lois seront insérées au Bulletin officiel, aussitôt après leur

In essence, this guarantees equal rights to the three languages of Belgium (Flemish, French and German). However, the government, with its officials and all Belgians dependent on it, made this optional (released by everyone's consent), applicable only to itself; The freedom of language was never realized for the Flemish, nor was it ever regulated by law, as prescribed in the article of the Constitution. And the Flemish were happy with it! HÖFKEN rightly makes the comment in this regard: This partly self-imposed yoke was entirely designed to oppress the Dutch German population of Belgium into "a humiliating state of immaturity", in a Helot condition, which undermines the sense of honor and pride. of the nobles and well-disposed among them. "Whatever the actual freedom of the people may consist in, it is completely incompatible with the suppression of the people's language, even if the government written and executed in a foreign language were the freest imaginable!"

What a blatant injustice it was and is to rob a people of their language, to make them equal to deaf and dumb, only becomes clear when we get to know the wrong relationship that exists here between the ruling French and the oppressed Flemish.

In the year 1824, in the southern Dutch Provinces, as they existed as a result of the Royal Decree of September 15, 1819 and October 26, 1822, there were more than 2 million inhabitants who were Flemish, and only 1 million who were promulgation, following a translation into the country. ou allemande, pour les communes où l'on parle ces langues; le texte français demeurant néanmoins seul officiel." The Congress gave proof of its great learning when it gave the grounds that led it to draft the Law of November 16, 1830:Considérant, d'autre part, que les langues flamande et allemande en usage parmi les ,, habitants de certaines localités, vary de province à province, et quelquefois ,, de district à district, de sorte qu'il serait impossible de publier un texte officiel des lois et arrêtés en langues flamande et allemande."

and 121,000 who spoke French and Walloon. These were, according to WILLEMS, (Verhandeling over de Nederduytsche Taelen Letterkunde. 2o Part, page 384) divided into the various provinces as follows:

According to the census in January 1838, the Kingdom of Belgium had 4,262,260 inhabitants. If we subtract the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg from this, 4 million remain, and if we divide this again among the various provinces, it turns out that of approximately 24 million inhabitants, Flemish is the mother tongue and only 14 million speak Walloon and French.



The WILLEMS' fund can look forward to an ever-increasing participation. The number of its members has risen to 98. This Association has already published nine works of different content for the benefit of the people.

The Language-loving Student Society in Ghent publishes its first Student Almanac, which this time appears as Jaerboeksken for 1854 (Ghent, E. VAN DER HAEGHEN). In Brussels it sees the light:

The import of the language of flamande au point de vue national, littéraire, religion et moral. (Par KERSTEN.) Bruxelles, H. GOEMAERE, 1853. (84 pages)

In Holland too, there is greater participation in the Flemish movement and it is discussed more in the newspapers. This subject is deliberately treated in a brief work; it is entitled: "The Flemish movement; by 0. VAN REES. Utrecht, w. H. VAN HEIJNINGEN, 1853." (23 pages)


Even in French Flanders (in the Arrondissement of Dunkirk and Hazebrouck in the Department du Nord) love for Flemish is awakening, which is still the current mother tongue.


A Comité flamand de France was established in Dunkirk on April 10, 1853, and the Minister ratified the statutes on August 24. DE COUSSEMAKER, Judge at the Court of Justice in Dunkirk, is presidentand JACOB GRIMM is named honorary president. On November 21, the honorary President GRIMM delivers a speech of thanks for the tribute paid to him, in which he says, among other things: "La faculty vitale" de l'idiome flamand doit étonner; After all, the dominant influence of the French language is preserved and the core of the story is popular. J'applaudis à toutes vos // investigations; votre sol est fécond et presqu' intact, vous ne "manquerez point de faire une abondante récolte.”

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