Belgium Explained To Slovenes (And Whoever Else ) In Ten Easy Lessons

N.B.: This is the first ever guest post on Appropriately enough, it was written by ARF, one of the few people I know who (in my opinion) should be legally forced to blog (vox populi indeed). As you will see, his blog is long overdue. I’ve only taken the liberty of adding some links to ARF’s text and a most approprate picture, I’m sure, but other than that I (obviously) left the post as-is.

Enjoy! I know I did 😀


Tjaša Kokalj, Miss Universe Slovenia (left) & Annelien Coorevits, Miss Universe Belgium (right) – accopmanied by Miss Universe Montenegro Snežana Busković (source)



It’s Belgium, baby! The center of the European Universe (just ask Poulette), the capital of Brussels (to many an American), host to some of the picturesque cities in the European Union (Brugge, that’s Bruges to the rest of you) and, to just about everyone besides its citizens, a cultural and political enigma. By popular demand, I was requested to explain Belgium to you. And who am I to ignore the Vox Populi?

Pengovsky, my dear friend and connaisseur of certain Belgian beers, is gracious enough to lend me some of his precious blog space to attempt to explain to you my Home Away From Slovenija. If it doesn’t make you any wiser, at least you might get some entertainment out of it. Sit back, get yourselves a Duvel and enjoy the ride (or the Duvel) (or both)…


Because I’ve always maintained we have a lot in common. See, for one, Slovenija is almost exactly 2/3 the size of Belgium. Ok, so that’s not really a common ground, but we’re both small countries in the EU, so a bit of solidarity won’t hurt. Secondly : both Slovenes and Belgians, well, the Flemish Belgians anyway (we’ll get to that hot potato later) have a serious work ethic. Which makes them both stand out economically in the EU. Slovenes would also be well placed – together with the Czechs – to understand what it is like to live in a country that’s made up of countries and regions with social and cultural differences and what it is like to economically support that whole structure. Which is another hot potato to address in the near future.

Furthermore, I have never seen any more culturally active places than Slovenija and Belgium. Both countries have an artistic percentage per capita that is greater than anywhere else. And lastly, they both like to party as hard as each other. Believe me, what’s left of my liver after five years of frequent visits to Slovenija and a lifetime of living in Belgium can attest to that! Throw the Scots into the equation and you have an unslayable Party Triumvirate! 😀

All of this might seem a bit to random to you to be used as real evidence, but this is my interpretation, and I happen to like it. 😉


Well, in the beginning there was one Julius Caesar, who, for all folk to read, put down the immortal words that “Of all the tribes in Gaul, the Belgae are the bravest”. Yeah, we’re bad, dude! Ol’ Jules even respected us enough to say so. But he slaughtered our forefathers anyway, just like he – probably – did with yours (except when you’re Italian, of course). Next to Vercingetorix in France, Ambiorix – geographically of what is now the region of Flanders – was the only Gaul chieftain ever to inflict a serious loss to Caesar’s legions during the Gallic Wars. Unlike Vercingetorix, he didn’t get caught but fled to his Germanic cousins across the Rhine. This was the first instance of what could be seen as a symptomatic behaviour in Flemings in regard to Belgium, which is the root of many a social, cultural and political problem in this here speck of Eurodust today.


Foreign countries like us. They like us so much that, over the centuries, they wanted us to be part of their countries (something y’all down Southeast can sympathize with as well, res?), even though we weren’t really up for it and all we wanted, was to be left alone, get about our business and be a rich region (that pesky work ethic, you see). Brugge (Bruges), in the Middle Ages, was called The Northern Venice. That should tell you something about this place. Being so wealthy, neighbouring and other countries felt they should have a piece, so in sequence, we were occupied by (I’ll leave the obvious Romans out) : the German, the French, the Spaniards, the Austrians, the French again, the Dutch, believe it or not and, like the rest of Europe, the Germans again.

What else did we have on offer, that made this a prime piece of real estate to occupy? Battlefields, baby! What is now Belgium, was everyone’s favourite battlefield! The Purebred’s forefathers are still weeping from the terrible hiding they got here in 1302 but came back for seconds, thirds and fourths, Napoleon got his Corsican arse kicked at Waterloo, the aforementioned Caesar liked to kick some Belgian ass and pillage and plunder to his legions’ hearts’ content, the Spanish raped, pillaged and plundered and fought William of Orange here several times. The Germans liked fighting here so much that they returned to fight some long term battles twice in give or take twenty years last century. Suffice it to say, we have a lot of things going for ourselves in terms of being popular in neighbouring countries besides a shedload of different beers, chocolate and waffles.


What I’m trying to say here, is that what this country has become today was shaped over the centuries and should be seen in that context. Modern day issues often are stemmed in historic events that took place before the country was founded in 1830, after a revolution that started at an opera in Brussel (Brussels to you foreign types and Bruxelles for those of the French/Wallonian persuasion :P). An opera? Yes, an opera. We could well be the very first country that owes this status to rioting at a musical performance. Rock ?n roll Revolution was invented nowhere else but here! 😀


This is the boring bit, but don’t skip it, because it’ll be important later on.

Basically, this happened : The Walloons – and not the Flemish for a change – were rather unhappy under the rule of the Dutch King William, who governed over the unified ?Netherlands’ after the French were kicked out. Economical as well as cultural and religious reasons instigated a riot, started at the Opera ?La Muette de Portici’, a nationalistic- romantic piece.

To make a long story short : Belgium became an independent state on October 3rd 1830, but wouldn’t be recognized as such by the other European powers until 1839, when the Treaty of London was signed. Those powers, though, made sure that Belgium got a monarchy that had ties with those of the surrounding countries : the House Von Sachsen- Coburg Gotha.

French was now the official language, and all industry and political power was now in the hands of the Walloons, who had a great disdain for ?those Flemish peasants’. Not until 1967 was our constitution written in Dutch and from the founding of this country, the Flemish would always fight for recognition of their culture and language. So much for this country’s motto ?Strength through Unity’. While very brief, this may give you an insight into the country’s modern day problems between the two regions when I’ll deal with them in future posts.

So there you have it : Belgium, Part One. Tune in next week when Dr. ARF will tackle the uneasy subject of the differences between Flemings and Walloons

Pengovsky’s note: Next edition of Dr. ARF’s most fabublous reading will probably be posted on Saturday (unless something really really important happens). Do stay tuned! 😀

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

16 thoughts on “Belgium Explained To Slovenes (And Whoever Else ) In Ten Easy Lessons”

  1. ARF for blogger! 😀

    So Belgian monarchs must be related to the English throne (via Albert, consort of Victoria) and of course to all those Germans everywhere. Interesting.
    I can hardly wait for part 2.

  2. So was there never a movement, that the Flemish wanted to get rid of the Walloons? Why did they found a state together, if they don’t like each other? I can somehow imagine, that Francophonic people didn’t want to talk Dutch, and vice versa. Appears to me, that it would have made more sense for the Dutch King, to sell the Walloon lands to France and might be able to keep the Flemish…?

  3. Questions are mounting… I have a couple of my own, but will keep them to myself, because they are political and I’m sure you’ll cover that soon. Right?! 😈

  4. @Dietmar : You just know that the words ‘sense’ and ‘politics’ don’t go together in one sentence. 😀 As for your questions about Flemish separation, you’ll get your fill, trust me. 😉 I can say this : the language issue reamins a VERY hot potato even today; hence the choice of my next post topic…
    @alcessa : from brown Belgian cows, of course! 😀
    @P : Of course I will. I’ll do my best to answer as much questions as I can while posting… 🙂

  5. @ARF: So the Belgian antipathy against the Germans is so high, that you sell us the brown stuff, that comes out of Belgian cows and call it chocolate? :mrgreen:

  6. Yes, of course! Belgians have such a dislike for Germans that they flood the country with Belgian chocolate in order to destabilize its government and social structure. Very cunning plan, don’t you think? :mrgreen: 😉

  7. We have politicians, so we don’t need foreign help to destabilise our country 😉 But bitter-sweet would be the right sort of chocolate to eat while watching it… 😉

    Btw. Francophonic Belgium is at least famous for it’s comics! But I guess, the Walloons see that as realistic self-portraits:mrgreen:

  8. This was a piece of nice reading. My questions: Which Belgian chocolate is the best in your opinion? What happened to the luxury club you were in, the one called Benelux?

  9. The Belgian chocolate still does it for most people, doesn’t it? 😀
    In my opinion, the Côte d’Or brand is the best. They have a wealth of flavours, of which my favourites are Gianduja (Côte ?d’Or Classic), 70% Pure with Orange (Sensations), 70% Pure with Raspberry, Truffé (bar) and Coco (bar). And then there are the gourmet pralines. When you’re in Belgium, go to a Leonidas shop and get yourselves the white pralines with coffee cream and a whole hazelnut inside. Yummy!
    As for the ?luxury’ club called BeNeLux : it’s always been an economical club which to an extent still exists for companies. But as a cooperative power, the BeNeLux has wholly merged into the EU.

    (P. Can you erase my former post, prosim? It got published before I was finished)

  10. Arf, I didn’t have time to read this before, and then forgot to get back to it. Anyway, I’m glad I’m here now – and am about to read your second entry. Two things though: regarding the reference to the Purebred’s forefathers – I a strange twist of fate, his forefathers are actually Belgian. All roads lead to Brussels, hmmm?
    As for the chocolate: my Time Out guide refers to Cote d’Or as “the poor man’s Godiva”. Which is just fine by me, esp. when we’re talking dark chocolate and orange Sensations. But on the top end, nothing beats Mr Pierre Marcollini.

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