The regime installed by the French was generally unpopular, but Belgium profited from French rule. It expanded in area after France conquered the prosperous city of Liège and annexed it to Belgian territory. Economically, after the French opened the Schelde River to shipping, Antwerp’s trade revived. New markets were also opened for local industry. In 1814 the country was occupied by armies of the nations ranged against Napoleon Bonaparte. The next year the Battle of Waterloo, the last great battle of the Napoleonic Wars, was fought on Belgian soil.
In 1815 the Congress of Vienna assembled to redraw the map of Europe in the wake of Napoleon’s defeat. The peace settlement adopted at the Congress again united Belgium and Netherlands, this time under a Dutch king, William I. Catholic Belgium, however, did not want a Protestant ruler, even though the country prospered under the Dutch. The outbreak of a revolution in France in July 1830 (see July Revolution) inspired a Belgian uprising in August. Dutch troops were driven from Brussels, and on October 4 a coalition of the normally antagonistic Catholics and Liberals proclaimed Belgian independence. The great powers—Austria, France, Britain, Prussia, and Russia—accepted Belgian independence, and the Dutch were unable to overcome such a formidable group. "Belgium" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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