Belgium, Belgicae and the fertile floodland

Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Van Rompuy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Frank Jacobs wrote that unassuming like most of his countrymen Herman Van Rompuy had quietly been preparing the Belgianisation of Europe ever since his appointment to the presidency of the European Council in 2009.

Jacobs may be laughing at Belgium, a country with lots of division, but he forgets that Belgium is very young country (1830) but had its regions like Flanders blossoming already for centuries, intriguing Romans Austrians and French conquerors.

Map of the county of Flanders by Matthias Quad...

Map of the county of Flanders by Matthias Quad (cartographer) and Johannes Bussemacher (engraver & publisher, Cologne) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Belgica and Belgicae

Once the bigger region of Belgica had Julius Caesar giving a hard time with several tribes revolting all the time and getting three Belgic kingdoms centred at Colchester, St.Albans and Silchester bringing to southern Britain the heavy plow, which cleared many lands previously untillable.

The stubborn Belgicae with the Lowlanders, had many rough times, being invaded over and over again. Flanders was Europe’s battlefield and seemed only to be the place for destruction.

But this is “zonder de waard gerekend”, to reckon without one’s host.

The Last Judgment Polyptych (1445–1450) by Rog...

The Last Judgment Polyptych (1445–1450) by Rogier van der Weyden, Hôtel-Dieu of Beaune, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flemish master-works, to be found everywhere in the world

In September on my trip in France I encountered in the many castles I visited many Flemish artworks. The Franco-Netherlandish school or Flemish, Franco-Flemish school brought a style of musical composition that dominated European music from c. 1450 to c. 1550. Masters like Jean d’Okegem, Guilaume Dufay, Josquin des Prez may perhaps not say to many civilians, but in the music world these are names which count.

Fertile Flooded land

English: Portrait of a humanist, attributed to...

Portrait of a humanist, attributed to Quentin Matsys, oil on wood. Accession number 44.2009.1.3. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ‘Flooded land’ ‘Flanders’, had its towns Brugge (Bruges en Gent (Ghent) to be the 12th century industrial and commercial place of business. Many wall decorations were woven in the Flemish workshops of Brussels and Bruges. The Flemish had a workshop directed in Ferrara where the famous Ferrarese early Renaissance painter Cosmé Tura made cartoons for his weavers. Many Flemish artisans in the 16th century were forced to become refugees. Some grouped together to live the life of travelling craftsmen, while others attempted to re-establish their trade abroad. Flemish weavers were welcomed everywhere as carriers of a great tradition. Such itinerant masters established shops from England to Italy.


The region has been the scene of numerous battles throughout history, which made that many people fighting for their live also found inspiration in the land to grasp at straws. Many inspirational ideas where put on paper and many of the poems written in the battle fields found their way to international literature and popularity.

Many of the non-triniarain protestant writers could not escape the Catholics and when the fall of Antwerp in 1582 marked the final rift between the Protestant north and the Catholic South, those who did not flee to Amsterdam got into oblivion for the outside world.

Renaissance and humanism

Nederlands: Filips van Marnix van Sint-Aldegon...

Filips van Marnix van Sint-Aldegonde

But Lucas de Heere who fled form the catholic southern provinces for religious reasons brought Renaissance closer to the general public. Many chapbooks, containing prose versions of medieval romances, folk songs, and Rederijkers (‘rhetoricians’) spread with Reformation propaganda, marching songs of the Calvinist revolt against Spain. Anna Bijns fulminating against Lutheranism in her glowing satirical verse was countered by the Calvinist Marnix van Sint Aldegonde in his polemical attack on the Catholic Church.

The Latin prose of Erasmus became famous throughout Europe and Van der Noot’s collection of Petrarchan sonnets in the manner of the French poet Pierre de Ronsard was published in London in 1567, at the time when several liberal Humanists with a social, undogmatic Christian ethic frightened many Catholics. That their names are less known by some may be because of them belonging to one or another religion,not happy to encounter the still available and often used material in the other denominations.

Masters with their hand

St Ivo by Roger van der Weyden. Oil on oak pan...

St Ivo by Roger van der Weyden

From Flanders the famed weaver Pieter van Aelst of Brussels, the painting schools of Breughel, Rubens and van Dyck could not be overlooked. Painters of which the world should hear were Hugo van der Goes, Quentin Matsys, David Teniers, Jacob Jordaens, Adrian Brouwer, Rogier van der Weyden, Gerard David, James Sidney Ensor, Paul Delvaux, Rene Magritte, a.o.

Victor Horta is generally credited with initiating the architectural style of Art Nouveau in 1893 with his TasselHouse in Brussels.

Top 10 famous Belgians

1916 photograph of Leo Hendrik Baekeland. Capt...

1916 photograph of Leo Hendrik Baekeland awarded the Perkin Medal “for eminence in the field of industrial chemical research.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Under the top 10 famous Belgians we can find the inventor of the Saxophone Adolphe Sax, the actress Audrey Hepburn, the astronomer who invented the Big Bang theory George Lemaitre, Albert Claude the first biochemist to isolate a cancer cell, the Body Mass Index or BMI,  and Leo Hendrik Baekeland, the inventor of synthetic resin known as “bakelite”.


Other noteworthy inventors Gerardus Mercator, cartographer, mathematician and geographer, Joseph Plateau inventor of the stroboscope, Constant Loiseau inventor of the optometer, Ernest Solay inventor of the Solvey process (ammonia), Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir of the internal-combustion engine, Charles Van Depoele inventor of the electric railway, Zénobe Gramme inventor of the Gramme dynamo, Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir invented the first gas-fired internal combustion engine,  Adolphe Quetelet, astronomer, mathematician, statistician and sociologist who founded and directed the Brussels Observatory and was influential in introducing statistical methods to the social sciences plus an influential figure in criminology, my grandfather Achille Ampe, inventor of a freezing method to work underground or in wetlands, Edward de Smedt, chemist and inventor of modern-day road asphalt.

Nobel prizes for Belgians:

The Nobel Prize for Peace has been won by Belgians three times: 1909 Auguste Beernaert, 1913 Henri La Fontaine, 1958 Georges Pire.
Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns can be added on the list for the Nobel prize of peace in 1904 for his Institute of International Law.

In 1911 Literature: Maurice Maeterlinck.

Physiology and Medicine: 1919: Jules Bordet; 1938: Corneile Heymans; 1974: Albert Claude en Christian de Duve; Chemistry, 1977 Ilya Prigogine.

Francois Englert.jpg

Bruxellois (inhabitant of the Brussels region) Francois Englert

Belgian theoretical physicist François Englert was awarded the 2010 J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics (with Gerry Guralnik, C. R. Hagen, Tom Kibble, Peter Higgs, and Robert Brout), the Wolf Prize in Physics in 2004 (with Brout and Higgs) and the High Energy and Particle Prize of the European Physical Society (with Brout and Higgs) in 1997 for the mechanism which unifies short and long range interactions by generating massive gauge vector bosons. In 2013 he got the Nobel Prize in Physics “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the Atlas and CMS experiments at Cern’s Large Hadron Collider”

Flemish going in space

Dirk Frimout and Frank de Winne are astronauts which proved they could handle international space missions. In this field Marcel Nicolet may also not be forgotten. He is generally credited with the discovery of the heliosphere.

Creative talents who gave many others work-opportunities

Dr. Paul Janssens, the founder of Janssen Pharmaceutica and Lieven Gevaert, founder of Agfa-Gevaert n.v. with Leo Leander Bekaert, founder of Bekaert n.v. are also figures which got their name be known by many outside this little country Belgium.

Social workers

In the field of social work we have many Flemish people who dared to come up for others, like the Catholic priest Daems, who fought against the exploitation of children and workers in the factories of the Catholic rich.

Father Damien (Damiaan) is well-known in America for his work in a leper colony on the island of Molokai in Hawaii, and by many he is considered a Saint.


English: Beginning of psalm motet De profundis...

Beginning of psalm motet De profundis by Josquin des Prez, illustrating technique of opening canon between two voices and motivic imitation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the arts of entertainment we can find also composer and organist Cesar Auguste Frank, eminent violinist Arthur Grumiaux, violinist and composer Henri Vieutemps, composer André Grétry, Jean Baptiste “Django” Reinhardt who became famous with his two-finger guitar playing technique. Jacques Brel, Toots Thielemans, Plastic Bertrand.
Dani Klein, lead singer of “Vaya Con Dios” did also not bad (sold 10 million CD’s)

Not an extinct nation

The country that has been given up for dead more times than Nelson Mandela did not do so bad by providing people who contributed something worthwhile to the world community.

Belgium may be a bad concoction, an amalgamation of many cultures and people, in the past it contributed much to the necessities which could bring the world further into development.

I am convinced Belgium has still much to offer in the future.
So perhaps the drawing of Belgium that has nibbled at the Netherlands and France, but wolfed down most of Germany and Poland (which seem to have merged with each other and Denmark, by the way), eaten away at Switzerland and Italy, devoured all of Luxembourg, Austria, Hungary and consumed most of former Yugoslavia, is not such a bad joke yet:



Please do find:

Fear of a Belgian Planet

and Famous Belgians Net


  • Flemish Stew (
    Belgium might be famous for waffles, chocolates and beer but there are some other delicious food items that this country have to offer, one of them is this Flemish stew or Carbonade Flamande. This national dish of Belgium is made out of beef and onions slowly stewed in dark Belgian beer like Oud Bruin, Brune Abbey Beer or Flanders which gives it a distinct sour and bitter taste. Herbs like thyme, bay leaf and mustard are commonly used to enhance flavour and give a nice aroma.
  • ” Belgia “ (
    Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic and Latin Europe, Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups, the Dutch-speakers (about 60%), mostly Flemish, and the French-speakers (about 40%), mostly Walloons, in addition to a small group of German-speakers. Belgium’s two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia. The Brussels-Capital Region, officially bilingual, is a mostly French-speaking enclave within the Flemish Region.[6] A German-speaking Community exists in eastern Wallonia.[7] Belgium’s linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in the political history and a complex system of government.[8][9]
    Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries, which used to cover a somewhat larger area than the current Benelux group of states. The region was called Belgica in Latin because of the Roman province Gallia Belgica which covered more or less the same area. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, it was a prosperous centre of commerce and culture. From the 16th century until the Belgian Revolution in 1830, when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands, many battles between European powers were fought in the area of Belgium, causing it to be dubbed the “Battlefield of Europe,”[10] a reputation strengthened by both World Wars.
  • Nobel Prize for Physics Awarded to Chapman University Institute for Quantum Studies Affiliate François Englert (
    Just two weeks ago, Englert received the coveted “Citation Laureate” title from the worldwide news organization Thomson Reuters – a noted predictor of Nobel Prize recipients. Englert’s 1964 theory is one of the newest breakthroughs to be proven in the world of quantum physics and is part of the most successful scientific theory in history.
  • Understanding the Parts of the Internal Combustion Engine (
    Although many inventors pioneered the development of the internal combustion engine, Belgian Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir invented the first gas-fired internal combustion engine. As a major mechanical innovation, the internal combustion engine paved the way for the development of manufacturing and transportation. Many people benefit from this remarkable invention when they take the bus to school, or when using a gasoline-powered generator to illuminate a home. While there are many ways to use internal combustion, the technology behind it remains the same: it uses a fuel-air mixture to create controlled explosions. Generally, these controlled explosions drive a series of pistons that exert mechanical energy. This mechanical energy can be converted to motion, which can power a turbine or the wheels on a car. Quite simply, a machine with multiple pistons can create more energy using the principle of internal combustion.

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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1 Response to Belgium, Belgicae and the fertile floodland

  1. Pingback: So-called own sacred values under threat | From guestwriters

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