Neutral Belgium, a barrier or a way across
A fledgling University of Liège historian gets to grips with the strategic importance of Belgian railways in the country’s defence policy and in the war plans of powerful neighbours, throughout the whole of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. In his doctoral thesis (1), Christophe Bechet lifts a corner of the veil on a neglected aspect of European geopolitics before the First World War.
The Risquons-Tout incident
In the nineteenth century a Belgian banker could already take the train at Brussels in the early morning to meet a client in Paris, have lunch with him, deal with his business and then take the evening train to return home. You cannot stop progress. Since its creation in 1846, the Paris-Brussels line constantly brought the two capitals closer together. Leopold I, very concerned about the economic development of his kingdom, was delighted with it at the time. Hadn’t Belgium constructed the first railway network on the continent?
(1) Traverser la Belgique? De l’indépendance au plan Schlieffen (1839-1905), Thesis presented by Christophe Bechet, in order to obtain a Doctorate in History, Art and Archaeology, supervised by Catherine Lanneau and Francis Balace.