Sparked in January 1789 by the efforts of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II to remake politics in the Austrian-dominated Low Countries, the Brabant Revolution began with a series of intense riots coupled with rising political opposition to foreign rule. After a rebel army defeated Austrian forces at the Battle of Turnhout in Oct. 1789, the revolution gained steam and by December, the Brabant declared its indepedence, forming the new United States of Belgium. Although resistance to Austrian rule spread throughout the region and several key towns fell to the rebels, the new state was fragile and gained little support from foreign powers. After dissension began to afflict the revolutionary ranks, pitting conservative “Statists” against allegedly anticlerical “Vonckists,” Emperor Leopold II (successor to Joseph) moved in in force. By the end of 1790, the rebellion was crushed.
The Brabant Revolution produced a vigorous literature on all sides, favoring and opposing revolution, representing the various factional interests, and the wide range of ideologies and political ideas wrapped up in the revolutionary struggle. The collection (also known as the Collection Brabançonne) consists of dozens of pamphlets and books issued in the years 1789 and 1790, many of exceptional scarcity, reflecting a rising national consciousness that resulted in the formation of the modern state of Belgium. The publications are written primarily in French or Dutch.
- Belgium--History--Revolution, 1789-1790
- Brabant (Belgium)--History--18th century