ANNEXATION OF BELGIUM BY FRANCE The restored regime was of short duration. Jourdan's victory at Fleurus (June 26, 1794) resulted in a fresh conquest of the Netherlands by France. The rule of the Austrian sovereigns was abolished in fact, and the position received legal sanction by the treaties of Campo Formio (179 7) and Luneville (18o i) , under which Francis II. recognized the annexation of Belgium by the French republic.
The battle of Fleurus enabled France to accomplish what Louis XIV. had planned. After a period of occupation and military rule, the Convention on Oct. 1, 1795, voted the annexation of Belgium and the principality of Liege (q.v.) which was thence forth amalgamated with it.
France accomplished, but in a far more radical manner, what had been attempted by Joseph II. A modern State was built up on the ruins of the past. All branches of the administration were centralized and systematized. All privileges were abolished. The Church, which had formerly been so powerful and so deeply re spected, was persecuted. It is not surprising that the Belgians detested the new regime. Their hostility was the greater for the terrible economic crisis which accompanied the change of rule. The introduction of military conscription led in Oct. 1798 to a revolt of the peasants in the Flemish districts of the country which was repressed without mercy.
Napoleon's coup d'etat in Nov. 1799 was the starting point of a new era. Under the consulate and the empire Belgium became accustomed to the new system which was introduced, and which still constitutes the basis of its administration. The country was divided into nine departments, each under a prefect. Courts of first instance and courts of appeal were created, and had to administer the French code of laws. A metric system of weights and measures and currency was introduced. The clergy were reconciled with the Government by the Concordat. With the vast markets of the empire now open to Belgian industry a period of unprecedented activity succeeded. The manufacture of cotton and beet sugar was introduced and made rapid progress.
The Napoleonic regime nevertheless remained unpopular. The complete lack of political liberty, the exigencies of conscription and the abuses of the Continental System (q.v.) led to a spirit of disaffection which, by the time of the fall of the empire, had be come general. The occupation of Belgium by the allies in 1814 was hailed with relief.