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Austrian Netherlands

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Austrian Netherlands
Österreichische Niederlande (German)
Pays-Bas Autrichiens (French)
Oostenrijkse Nederlanden (Dutch)
Belgium Austriacum (Latin)
The Austrian Netherlands in 1789
  •   Austrian Netherlands
StatusPersonal union of Imperial fiefs within Empire
Common languages
Roman Catholic
• 1716–1724 (first)
Eugene Francis
• 1793–1794 (last)
Charles Louis
• 1714–1716 (first)
Lothar Dominik
• 1793–1794 (last)
Franz Karl [de]
Historical eraEarly modern
7 March 1714
8 November 1785
18 September 1794
17 October 1797
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Spanish Netherlands
French First Republic
United Belgian States
Today part of

The Austrian Netherlands[nb 1] was the territory of the Burgundian Circle of the Holy Roman Empire between 1714 and 1797. The period began with the acquisition by the Austrian Habsburg monarchy of the former Spanish Netherlands under the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714. It lasted until Revolutionary France annexed the territory after the Battle of Sprimont in 1794 and the Peace of Basel in 1795. Austria relinquished its claim on the province in 1797 through the Treaty of Campo Formio.

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  • The Rise and Fall of Austria or the Habsburg Empire / Österreich
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Naval jack of Flanders in the 18th century
Silver coin: 1 kronenthaler Maria Theresa, 1767
Silver coin 1 kronenthaler Francis II, 1793

The Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) later led to a division of the Low Countries between the Dutch Republic in the north and the Southern Netherlands, which later became Belgium and Luxembourg. The area had been held by the Habsburgs, but was briefly under Bourbon control in the War of the Spanish Succession. Under the Treaty of Rastatt (1714) which ended that war, the remainder of the Spanish Netherlands was ceded to Austria. Administratively, the country was divided into four traditional duchies, three counties and various lordships.

Brabant Revolution

In the 1780s, opposition emerged to the liberal reforms of Emperor Joseph II, which were perceived as an attack on the Catholic Church and the traditional institutions of the Austrian Netherlands. Resistance grew, focused in the autonomous and wealthy Duchy of Brabant and County of Flanders. In the aftermath of rioting and disruption in 1787 known as the Small Revolution, many opponents took refuge in the neighboring Dutch Republic where they formed a rebel army. Soon after the outbreak of the French and Liège revolutions, the émigré army crossed into the Austrian Netherlands and decisively defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Turnhout on 27 October 1789. The rebels, supported by uprisings across the territory, soon took control over much of the territory and proclaimed independence. Despite the tacit support of Prussia, the independent United Belgian States, established in January 1790, received no foreign recognition and soon became divided along ideological lines. The Vonckists led by Jan Frans Vonck advocated progressive and liberal government, whereas the Statists, led by Hendrik Van der Noot, were staunchly conservative and supported by the Church. The Statists, who had a wider base of support, drove the Vonckists into exile through terror.[1]

By mid-1790, Habsburg Austria ended its war with the Ottoman Empire and prepared to suppress the rebels. The new Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold II, was also a liberal and proposed an amnesty for the rebels. After defeating a Statist army at the Battle of Falmagne (22 September 1790), the territory was soon overrun and the revolution was defeated by December. The Austrian reestablishment was short-lived and the territory was overrun by the French in 1794 (during the War of the First Coalition) after the Battle of Fleurus.

Imperial Council of State

The Council of State acted as government, and formed the council by imperial consent:[2]

French rule

1794 was the third year of the War of the First Coalition. The Austrians gave up on contesting the Low Countries after the Battle of Fleurus (26 June), and left them to the French. After three months of military occupation, on 15 October an Administration centrale et supérieure de la Belgique was installed. On 1 October 1795 the departments were activated and the definitive annexation started, liquidating the Belgian Governing Council, which ceased on 22 November. France annexed the Austrian Netherlands from the Holy Roman Empire and integrated them into the French Republic. The commissioner of the Directory, Louis Ghislain de Bouteville du Metz [fr], finished his work on January 20, 1797, after which no common Belgian authority remained.


  1. ^ Dutch: Oostenrijkse Nederlanden; French: Pays-Bas Autrichiens; German: Österreichische Niederlande; Latin: Belgium Austriacum.


  1. ^ Brown, Kevin (2017). "Artist and Patrons: Court Art and Revolution in Brussels at the end of the Ancien Regime". Dutch Crossing: 1–28. doi:10.1080/03096564.2017.1299964.
  2. ^ Almanach de la cour de Bruxelles sous les dominatione autrichienne et francaise, la monarchie des Pays-Bas et le gouvernement belge, de 1725 a 1840 (etc.)


This page was last edited on 6 June 2024, at 00:46
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