Welcome on iBelgica     

Home > French Occupation (1795-1815)


French Occupation from 1795 to 1815

Updated on - December 2010
1070 coins repertoried during this periode + variants and infos
When you notice a coin, please note it like this : IBELGICA, FRA-###


With the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, the Austrian Netherlands declared their independence, but were reoccupied by the Austrians within a year. Following the Campaigns of 1794 of the French Revolutionary Wars, the Southern Netherlands were invaded and annexed by the First French Republic in 1795, ending Habsburg rule. They were divided into nine united départements and became an integral part of France. The Bishopric of Liège was dissolved. Its territory was divided over the départements Meuse-Inférieure and Ourte. Austria confirmed the loss of the Austrian Netherlands by the Treaty of Campo Formio, in 1797.
Until the establishment of the Consulate in 1799, Catholics were heavily repressed by the French. The University of Leuven (Louvain) was closed in 1797, priests were considered criminal, and churches were plundered. During this early period of the French rule, the Belgian economy was completely paralyzed: it was forbidden to export from the port of Antwerp, heavy taxes had to be paid in gold and silver coin, while goods bought by the French were paid for with worthless assignats. During this period of systematic exploitation, about 800,000 Belgians fled the Southern Netherlands.[3] The French occupation in Belgium led to further suppression of the Dutch language across the country, including its abolition as an administrative language.[4][5] With the motto "one nation, one language", French became the only accepted language in public life, as well as in economic, political, and social affairs.[6] The measures of the successive French governments and in particular the 1798 massive conscription into the French army were particularly unpopular within the Flemish segment of the population and caused the Peasants' War.[7] The Peasant's War is often seen as the starting point of the modern Flemish movement.[8]
With the defeat and exile of Napoleon in 1814, French control of Belgium ended.
But in 1815, Napoleon's last campaign was fought out in Belgium. Having escaped from Elba, Napoleon resumed power in France (the Hundred Days), and attacked the Prussian and British armies then deployed in Belgium. On June 18, 1815, in the Battle of Waterloo, he was finally defeated.