Belgian Neutrality in the Mid 1800's

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A bond between two nations is like a serious relationship between two people who are soul mates there is nothing that can be done to break up their passion or alliance. This is the best way to describe the selected cartoon from Punch Magazine that will be analyzed in this essay, "Trust Me!" August 13th, 1870. This essay will discuss England's support of Belgium independence and neutrality from a political and diplomatic viewpoint from the mid to late Nineteenth Century. Accordingly this essay will predominantly focus on the build up to the Franco-Prussian War, English diplomatic actions during the Franco-Prussian War in defense of Belgian independence and neutrality. Also, to understand England and Belgium's relationship, the Treaty of London signed in 1839 will be analyzed and discussed. Thus, this essay will cover or touch on events from 1830 to approximately 1872 and explain why England had to get involved between the belligerents of the time.

To accurately describe the situation at hand during the late nineteenth century in England that is depicted in the selected cartoon one must go a bit further back to understand decisions and actions that have happened in the past which would be effecting England and its decisions in the time period being discussed. To do this one must consider the Belgian Revolution of 1830. The cause of the revolution was brought upon the nation in La Monnaie opera house in Brussels on August 25th, 1830 . A previously banned play about Neapolitan insurrection against Spanish Rule managed to work the crowd into revolution through a song lyric, "My country gave me life, I shall give it liberty!" The revolt was a huge success for the Belgian people as they took the royal authorities by surprise with their intensity and rapid spread of rebellious activity that pushed Dutch troops out of Belgium. By September 27th, 1830 the Belgians had managed to set up a provisional government, proclaim Belgian independence, ordered an early election of a national congress, and finally drafted and proclaimed the proclamation of independence for Belgium by October 4th, 1830. Given the short time frame in which the Revolution of 1830 occurred, it didn't give England and the other super powers much time to make a decision on what had to be done. The situation was best describe by the British Prime Minister of the time, The Duke of Wellington, "It is a devilish a bad business, the most serious affair for Europe that could have arisen." The seriousness of the situation was worry about a war breaking out. Wellington's cabinet feared that France was going to try to annex Belgium, which could cause a major war and England's major concern was to keep the peace in Europe. The first effort to keep the peace in Europe arose from a conference called by Wellington in London. The first meeting came one month after the Belgian's independence had been proclaimed and drafted and the delegates from Great Britain, France, Austria, Prussia and Russia hammered out a mutual understanding over the course of the next year. Although their plan was written and ready to go in October of 1831 the plan was delayed until the formally named Treaty of London was signed on April 19th, 1839 . The Treaty of London was signed by Holland and Belgium to allow Belgium to form an independent state of perpetual neutrality. To insure that neutrality, as promised by the treaty, Great Britain, Prussia, France, Austria and Russia also signed the treaty on August 19th, 1839. When the Great Powers signed the treaty they became the guarantors of perpetual neutrality, which simply means that because the most powerful nations in the world are backing Belgium that the newly independent nation is safe. After the signing of the Treaty of London there was still more drama between Belgium and the rest of the world, however, Britain merely moderated all the troubles with the help of other nations who recognized such problems occurring. For example, one of the...
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