The United Kingdom of the Netherlands ( nl, Verenigd Koninkrijk der Nederlanden; french: Royaume-Uni des Pays-Bas) is the unofficial name given to the
Kingdom of the Netherlands ) when they act as Kingdom Ministers, as for example with "Our Minister of Justice in his capacity as Minister of the Kingdom" ( nl, Onze Minister van Justitie in zijn hoedanigheid van minister van het Koninkrijk), except for the Minister of For ...
as it existed between 1815 and 1839. The United Netherlands was created in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars through the fusion of territories that had belonged to the former
Dutch Republic The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or United Provinces (officially the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands), commonly referred to in historiography as the Dutch Republic, was a federal republic which existed from 1588 (during the Du ...
, Austrian Netherlands, and Prince-Bishopric of Liège in order to form a buffer state between the major European powers. The polity was a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchies differ from absolute monarchies (in which a monarch holds absolute ...
, ruled by
William I
William I
of the House of Orange-Nassau. The polity collapsed in 1830 with the outbreak of the
Belgian Revolution The Belgian Revolution (, ) was the conflict which led to the secession of the southern provinces (mainly the former Southern Netherlands) from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the establishment of an independent Kingdom of Belgium. ...
. With the ''
de facto In law and government, ''de facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law ...
'' secession of
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the s ...
, the Netherlands was left as a rump state and refused to recognise Belgian independence until 1839 when the Treaty of London was signed, fixing the border between the two states and guaranteeing Belgian independence and neutrality as the Kingdom of Belgium.


Before the
French Revolutionary Wars The French Revolutionary Wars (french: Guerres de la Révolution française) were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the peri ...
(1792–1802), the
Low Countries The term Low Countries, also known as the Low Lands ( nl, de Lage Landen, french: les Pays-Bas) and historically called the Netherlands ( nl, de Nederlanden), Flanders, or Belgica, refers to a coastal lowland region in northwestern Europe formin ...
was a patchwork of different polities created by the
Eighty Years' War The Eighty Years' War ( nl, Tachtigjarige Oorlog; es, Guerra de los Ochenta Años) or Dutch War of Independence (1568–1648) was a Dutch Revolt, revolt of the Seventeen Provinces of what are today the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg a ...
(1568–1648). The
Dutch Republic The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or United Provinces (officially the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands), commonly referred to in historiography as the Dutch Republic, was a federal republic which existed from 1588 (during the Du ...
in the north was independent; the Southern Netherlands was split between the Austrian Netherlands and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège - the former being part of Habsburg Monarchy, while both were part of the Holy Roman Empire. In the aftermath of the French Revolution, the War of the First Coalition broke out in 1792 and France was invaded by Kingdom of Prussia, Prussia and the Holy Roman Empire. After two years of fighting, the Austrian Netherlands and Liège were captured by the French in 1794 and annexed into France. The Dutch Republic collapsed in 1795 and became Batavian Republic, a French client state.

Creation of the United Netherlands

In 1813, the Netherlands was liberated from French rule by Prussian and Russian Empire, Russian troops during the Napoleonic Wars. It was taken for granted that any new regime would have to be headed by the son of the last Dutch ''stadhouder'', William I of the Netherlands, William Frederik of Orange-Nassau. A provisional government was formed, most of whose members had helped drive out the House of Orange 18 years earlier. However, they realised that it would be better in the long term to offer leadership of the new government to William Frederik themselves rather than have him imposed by the allies. Accordingly, William Frederick was installed as the "sovereign prince" of a new Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands. The future of the Southern Netherlands, however, was less clear. In June 1814, the Great Powers secretly agreed to the Eight Articles of London which allocated the region to the Dutch as William had advocated. That August, William Frederik was made Governor-General of the Southern Netherlands and the List of bishops and prince-bishops of Liège, Prince-Bishop of Liège, which combined are almost all of what is now Belgium. For all intents and purposes, William Frederik had completed his family's three-century dream of uniting the Low Countries under a single rule. Discussions on the future of the region were still ongoing at the Congress of Vienna when Napoleon attempted to return to power in the "Hundred Days". William used the occasion to declare himself Monarchy of the Netherlands, king on 16 March 1815 as William I. After the Battle of Waterloo, discussions continued. In exchange for the Southern Netherlands, William agreed to cede the Principality of Orange-Nassau and parts of the Liège to Prussia on 31 May 1815. In exchange, William also gained control over the Duchy of Luxembourg, which was elevated to a grand duchy and placed in personal union, personal and political union with the Netherlands, though it remained part of the German Confederation.


Constitution and government

Though the United Netherlands was a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchies differ from absolute monarchies (in which a monarch holds absolute ...
, the king retained significant control as head of state and head of government. Beneath the king was a bicameral legislature known as the States General of the Netherlands, States General with a Senate (Netherlands), Senate and House of Representatives (Netherlands), House of Representatives. From the start, the administrative system proved controversial. Representation in the 110-seat House of Representatives, for example, was divided equally between south and north, although the former had a larger population. This was resented in the south, which believed that the government was dominated by northerners. Additionally, the king had somewhat greater power than is the case for Dutch and Belgian monarchs today. Most notably, the ministers were responsible solely to him.


File:1815-VerenigdKoninkrijkNederlanden-en.svg, upMap of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands The United Netherlands was divided into 17 provinces and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg which was constitutionally distinct. Many were based on the pre-existing ''Departments of France, départements'', established by the French. They included: *Antwerp Province, Antwerp (part of modern-day Belgium) *Drenthe (part of the Netherlands) *East Flanders (Belgium) *Friesland (Netherlands) *Gelderland (Netherlands) *Groningen (province), Groningen (Netherlands) *Hainaut Province, Hainaut (Belgium) *Holland (Netherlands) *Province of Limburg (1815–39), Limburg (split between Belgium and the Netherlands) *Liège Province, Liège (Belgium) *Namur Province, Namur (Belgium) *North Brabant (Netherlands) *Overijssel (Netherlands) *Province of Brabant, South Brabant (Belgium) *Utrecht (province), Utrecht (Netherlands) *West Flanders (Belgium) *Zeeland (Netherlands) The United Netherlands was also Dutch colonial empire#Post-Napoleonic era (1815–1945), a colonial power with overseas colonies in the Dutch East Indies, East Indies and elsewhere.

Economic policy

Economically, the United Netherlands prospered. Supported by the state, the Industrial Revolution began to affect the Southern Netherlands where a number of modern industries emerged, encouraged by figures such as John Cockerill (industrialist), John Cockerill who created the steel industry in Wallonia. Antwerp emerged as major trading port. William I actively supported economic modernisation. Modern universities were established State University of Leuven, in Leuven, University of Liège, in Liège, and Ghent University, in Ghent in 1817. Lower education was also extended. The Société Générale de Belgique, General Netherlands Society for Advancing National Industry (''Algemeene Nederlandsche Maatschappij ter Begunstiging van de Volksvlijt'') was created in 1822 to encourage industrialisation in the south, while the Netherlands Trading Society (''Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij'') was created in 1825 to encourage trade with the colonies. William I also embarked on a programme of canal building that saw the creation of the North Holland Canal, North Holland, Ghent–Terneuzen Canal, Ghent–Terneuzen and Brussels-Charleroi Canal, Brussels–Charleroi canals.

Regional tensions

Differences between Southern and Northern Netherlands were never totally effaced. The two were divided by the issue of religion because the south was strongly Roman Catholic and the north largely Dutch Reformed. The Catholic Church in Belgium resented the state's encroachment on its traditional privileges, especially in education. In French language, French-speaking parts of the south, attempts to enforce the use of Dutch language were particularly resented among the elite. Many Belgians believed that the United Netherlands' constitution discriminated against them. Though they represented 62 percent of the population, they were only allocated 50 percent of the seats in the House and less in the Senate while the state extracted money from the richer south to subsidise the north. By the mid-1820s, a Unionism in Belgium, union of opposition had formed in Belgium, uniting Liberalism, liberals and Catholic conservatives against Dutch rule.

Belgian Revolution and secession

The Belgian Revolution broke out on 25 August 1830, inspired by the recent July Revolution in France. A military intervention in September failed to defeat the rebels in Brussels, radicalising the movement. Belgium was declared an independent state on 4 October 1830. A constitutional monarchy was established under Leopold I of Belgium, King Leopold I. William I refused to accept the secession of Belgium. In August 1831, he launched the Ten Days' Campaign, a major military offensive into Belgium. Though initially successful, the French intervened to support the Belgians and the invasion had to be abandoned. After a period of tension, a settlement was agreed at the Treaty of London in 1839. The Dutch recognised Belgian independence, in exchange for territorial concessions.D Richards, ''Modern Europe'' (London 1964) p. 89 The frontier between the two countries was finally fixed by the Treaty of Maastricht (1843), Treaty of Maastricht in 1843. Luxembourg became an autonomous state in personal union with the Dutch, though ceding some territory to Belgium.

See also

*Orangism (Belgium) *Belgium–Netherlands relations *Benelux Union *Southern Netherlands




External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:United Kingdom of the Netherlands United Kingdom of the Netherlands, Former polities in the Netherlands Former monarchies of Europe States and territories established in 1815 States and territories disestablished in 1839 1815 establishments in the Netherlands, 1839 disestablishments in the Netherlands,