In ancient times, Belgium was part of the Roman Empire, and through the centuries its territory has belonged to many different nations.
It was the battlefield for many European wars. Napoleon, the most powerful ruler of France, was defeated by the English in Belgium in 1815 in the famous Battle of Waterloo. You can read about this in another article on Waterloo. In 1815, Belgium was joined with Holland. They were called the Netherlands. However, the people of Belgium were very different from those in Holland, and they wanted to have their own government.
They grew more and more dissatisfied until finally, in 1830, the people revolted and declared their independence. The country prospered, and the rich a colony. (You can read about the Belgian Congo in this volume.) But difterritory of the Belgian Congo became ficult times lay ahead. In World War I, Germany invaded the country, and although the people fought back bravely, they could not defeat the powerful German army. However, the courage of King Albert of Belgium is remembered by everyone. (You can read about King Albert in the first volume of this encyclopedia. ) In World War II, the Germans again invaded Belgium. King Leopold III surrendered after eighteen days of fighting, and the Germans occupied the country for the next four years.
The people could not fight back openly, but- they formed secret groups, known as the "underground." In the middle of the night they would go out and destroy railroads, bridges, and places where ammunition was kept. In 1944, the country was freed by the Allies, and the Belgians set to work to rebuild their country. They were very angry with Leopold III who had surrendered to the Germans. When he returned to the throne, the people objected and forced him to give up the throne to his son, Prince Baudouin.