5.2 Benelux events before 1850

© Bob Denton 2018
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The Netherlands was a collection of Burgundian and Habsburg provinces until its adoption of Protestant-thought saw it declare itself a republic in 1581 developing a growing empire until 1795. That year it declared itself the Batavian Republic. However, Napoléon subjugated it as a vassal-state, the Kingdom of Holland, ruled by his brother Louis Bonaparte from 1806 to 1810. It remained annexed as part of France until autumn 1813. The 1815 Congress of Vienna added further southern territory to the Netherlands.

The Belgian Revolution in 1830 split the territory forming the southern territory into an independent Belgium. 1831 saw the installation of a Belgian king, Leopold I. Leopold was in fact a German prince who had joined the Imperial Russian Army to combat Napoléon. He had previously been offered the crown of Greece but thought it too high risk. He married the future British king George IV’s only daughter Princess Charlotte of Wales and ruled Belgium for 34 years

Luxembourg had been under French rule until 1815 when the Congress of Vienna awarded it autonomity.  Prussia and the Netherlands made claims on the territory which was resolved by a personal union with the Netherlands that operated until 1890.

There were six exhibitions in Benelux during this period, all held in what is today Belgium.

5.2.1  1820, Ghent, the first Netherlands’ industrial exhibition

See also 1820 Ghent industrial exhibition data sheet

The Flemish town of Ghent gained notoriety when the Treaty of Ghent settled the ‘War of 1812’, thirty months of conflict between Great Britain and the USA. It was signed by both parties on Christmas Eve 1814. The treaty agreed that all conquered territories were to be returned. It also set up commissions that would define the Canadian-USA borders. King William I of the Netherlands, encouraged by the success of the 1819 Paris Exposition, decided to run one for his new country, and selected Ghent as the venue.

It was primarily organised by the Academie royale de dessin, peinture, sculpture, architecture et gavure de Gand (Royal Academy of Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and Stencil of Ghent) and directed by the Ghent and Flanders governments.

 The exposition ran alongside an art salon featuring living artists. This exhibition focused upon Ghent’s metal industries. There were co-located sports and music competitions. Further information proves scant.

Medal from Ghent exposition

5.2.2  1824, Tournai, Exposition provinciale

All that could be found about this event was that it was held in September and that its full name was the Première Exposition périodique de produits de l’Industrie et des Arts à Tournay. (First periodic exhibition of industrial products and arts of Tournai).

5.2.3  1825, Haarlem, Exposition Générale

This event was awarded a royal grant and ran for the month of July..

The catalogue initially sounds more like a haberdashery shop – exhibits of linen, cotton, wool or cotton threads, leather items and bindings. But it also included paper and typography products, wood and joinery products, pottery and earthenware, metal products, chemicals, glassware and crystal. Its industrial heading appears to be more about art, as it includes anatomical figures, marble bas-reliefs, portraits of Da Vinci and King William. A raft of scientific instruments and machines, surgical equipment, a broad range of fabrication utensils and luxury consumer equipment.

The second part of the catalogue lists extraordinary exhibits that include a large telescope, new styles of locks and a model of a floating bridge. There is no information on the venue used nor any visitor statistics.

5.2.4  1830, 1835, 1847, Brussels, Exhibition of the Products of National Industry

Belgium’s Independence Day was founded on 21Jul1830, on the same day Brussels was declared as the capital of Belgium. That day many Belgians were involved in celebrations and ceremonies, there were military and civil parades and an outdoor festival in Brussels’ Royal Park ending in a firework display. There is rather less information about this Exposition nationale. Details of subsequent events in 1835 and 1847 have also proven elusive.

Botanic Gardens of Brussels, 1826

© Bob Denton 2018
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