Wallonia, or Wallonie, ( _fr. Wallonie, _de. Wallonien, _nl. Wallonië, _wa. Waloneye) is the meridional part of Belgium belonging to the Romance linguistic field (about 3,4 millions inhabitants), in opposition to the Germanic linguistic field in the north. Wallonia was concretized politically by the creation of the French-speaking language area, but principally by the creation of the (self-governing) Walloon region in 1970, which by metonymy is nearly always named by the term “Wallonia” [http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/634954/Wallonia]



The most popular region of Wallonia for tourism is the Ardenne. It is well known because of the 1944 Battle of the Bulge, which is named in French "La bataille des Ardennes".

In The Song of Roland, Charlemagne had a nightmare the night before the Battle of Roncevaux Pass. This nightmare took place in the Ardennes' forest where he had his most important battles. Wallonia has plenty of rivers, villages, named places linked to an other song about Charlemagne: Old French twelfth century "chanson de geste" "Quatre Fils Aymon". Among them, in Dinant, the Rock named Bayard (the magic bay horse which, according to the legend did a huge jump from the top of the rock as far as the other back of the Meuse).

The most advanced position of the German army during the "Battle of the Bulge" was not far from the town of Dinant, along the river Meuse. The German army could not go across the river in 1944 as in 1940. In 1940 the German army was able to go across the Meuse, not further than Dinant in Houx (Wallonia) (as well as in Sedan). General Erwin Rommel was also able to do it in a neighbourhood of Dinant named Leffe (as the Abbey beer linked to this abbey in this neighbourhood). Said that a German vehicle exploded just before the rock Bayard on an mine laid by American soldiers. Following this legend, Dinant's Rock was thus the most advanced position of the German army during this battle

Geopolitical position of the Ardenne and Wallonia during the World War II (1940 and 1944)

Ardenne : origin of the Wallonian industrial power (18th, 19th and 20th) centuries

"Ardenne" (Wallonian spelling), is an old mountain formed during the Hercynian orogeny as for instance in France the Armorican Massif, the Massif Central, the Vosges. At the bottom of these old mountains you have often (as in Wallonia,) coal, iron, zinc, and other kind of metals in the sub-soil. This geologic fact explains the greatest part of the geography of Wallonia and its history. In the North and West of the Ardennes lies the valleys of the Sambre and Meuse rivers, forming an arc Sillon industriel going across the most industrial provinces of Wallonia, for example Hainaut, along the river Haine (the etymology of Hainaut) : the Borinage, the "Centre" and Charleroi along the river Sambre, Liège along the river Meuse.

The Ardenne includes the greatest part of the Luxembourg (number 4), the south of the Namur (number 5) and Liège (number 3), in a very little part of the Hainaut (number 2). There were the first furnaces in the four walloon provinces, using, before the 18th century, the charcoal which was made in the Ardenne's forest. This industry was also in the extreme South of the Luxembourg, the region called Gaume. After this century, the most important part of the Walloon steel industry, using then coal, was built around the coal-mines, principally in the region around the cities of Liège, Charleroi, La Louvière, the Borinage, and further in the Walloon Brabant (in Tubize). Wallonia became the second industrial power of the world in proportion to its territory and to its population.

The second industrial Power of the World

Jean-Pierre Rioux drew the following table in his book "la révolution industrielle". The table is based on several "levels of development" (i.e. consumption of cotton in the rough state, of cast-iron, cast-steel, coal, the development of the railway network [Jean-Pierre Rioux, La révolution industrielle", Seuil, Paris, 1989, Collection "Points"] ).

Thus, this table is not based on absolute figures (or is not pointing out the absolute ranks), but the hierarchy of the industrial powers only on the base of their levels of development.

Following many authors, the word "Belgium" may be changed by "Wallonia" as for instance , quoted by Maurice Besnard: Belgium and its walloon part was "the first coutry becoming an industrial country after England". Herbert Lüthy did not agree with the theory of Max Weber on the link between capitalism and protestantism and, on the contrary, underlined the fact that Wallonia was a catholic country [Philipppe Besnard, "Protestantisme et capîtalisme. la controverse post-wébérienne." Armand Collin, Paris, 1970, pages 27-31] Philippe Destatte wrote that Wallonia was "the second industrial power of the world, in proportion to its population and its territory" [Philippe Desttate, "L'identité wallonne", Institut Destrée, Charleroi, 1997, pages 49-50) ISBN 2-87035-000-7] . Hervé Hasquin is thinking that " the development of the Wallloon industrial regions contributed to make of Belgium one of the main industrial powers in Europa, if not in the world..." [Hervé Hasquin, "La Wallonie, son histoire", Pire, Bruxelles, 1999, page 172 ISBN 2-930240-18-0] Philippe Raxhon wrote about the period after 1830,: "It was not propaganda but a reality the Walloon regions were becoming the second industrial power all over the world after England" [Philippe Raxhon, "Le siècle des forges ou la Wallonie dans le creuset belge (1794-1914)", in B.Demoulin and JL Kupper (editors), "Histoire de la Wallonie", Privat, Toulouse, 2004, pages 233-276, p. 246 ISBN 2-7089-4779-6] Marc Reynebau said the same thing [ "Histoire belge, 1830-2005, Translated from the Dutch by S.Delsart, Racine, Bruxelles, 2005, p. 48] Michel De Coster, Professor at the University of Liège wrote also:"The historians ant the economists say that Belgium was the the second industrial power of the world, in proportion to its population and its territory (...) But this place is the one of Wallonia where were concentrated the coal-mines, the blast furnaces, the iron and zinc factories, the wool industry, the glass industry, the weapons industry..." [Michel De Coster, "Les enjeux des conflits linguistiques", L'Harmattan, Paris, 2007, ISBN 978-2-296-0339-8 , pages 122-123 ] . The Professor is pointing out this possible confusion (Belgium/Wallonia), as a good example of the difficulties ot the Walloon identity. There are many other references about that: "The sole industrial centre outside the collieries and blast furnaces of Walloon was the old cloth making town of Ghent." [ [European Route of Industrial Heritage http://en.erih.net/index.php?pageId=114] ]

The Sillon industriel 

The "Sillon industriel" is at the bottom of the Ardenne as the geological phenomenon - the whole old mountain formed during the Hercynian orogeny - or at the South of the old mountain (a Company making zinc in Verviers was named "Vieille montagne", "Old mountain).

Here is the place of the Wallonian industrial revolution in the 18th and the 19th century and also the place of the Wallonian industrial power, the second of the world during the 19th century. This industrial area was the breeding grounds of the European socialist movement. Along this "sillon" took place major and general strikes in 1885, 1893 (for the universal suffrage), 1902, 1913, 1932, 1936, 1950 (against King Leopold III because of his relationship with the Germans during the World War II). Wallonia was never dominating Belgium. Belgium was dominated by a Francophone elite (from Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia). The historian Philippe Destatte wrote: "It is true that the Walloon movement, which has never stopped affirming that Wallonia is part of the French cultural area, has never made this cultural struggle a priority, being more concerned to struggle against its status as a political minority and the economic decline which was only a corollary to it." [http://www.wallonie-en-ligne.net/Wallonie_Politique/1995_Destatte_Philippe_Wallonia-Identity.htm ] Jules Destrée fought against . André Renard fought against this economic decline when he became the leader of the strike of 1960- 1961, a struggle for a self-governing Wallonia, arenardist strike.

When "The two world wars curbed the continuous expansion that Wallonia had enjoyed up till that time. Then everything changed dramatically in 1958. The factories of Wallonia were by then antiquated, the coal was running out and the cost of extracting coal was constantly rising. It was the end of an era, and Wallonia had to redefine itself as a dynamic industrial heartland. The key to the region's future was state-of-the-art technology." [http://www.wallonie.be/en/discover-wallonia/economy/history-of-the-walloon-economy/index.html] In December 1960, a strike gripped the country, but it succeeded only in Wallonia. The movement became a renardist strike. Renée C.Fox explained all the affair in a few words:

At the beginning of the 1960s (...), a major reversal in the relationship between Flanders and Wallony was taking place. Flanders had entered a vigorous, post-World War II period of industialization, and a significant percentage of the foreign capital (particularly from the United States), coming into Belgium to support new industries was being invested in Flanders. In contrast, Wallony's coal mines and time-worn steel plants and factories were in crisis. The region had lost thousands of jobs and much investment capital. A new Flemish-speaking, upwardly mobile "populist bourgeoisie" was not only becoming visible and vocal in Flemish movements but also in both the local and national polity [The strike of December 1960 against the asuterity law of Gaston Eyskens ] was replaced by a collecvtive expression of the frustrations, anxieties, and grievances that Wallony was experiencing in response to its altered situation, and by the demands of the newly formed Mouvement populaire wallon for (...) regional autonomy for Wallony... [Renée C. Fox, "In the Belgian Château", Ivan R.Dee, Chicago, page 13, 1994 ISBN 1-56663-057-6 ] .

Now Wallonia is managing interregional cooperation with its neighbours [http://www.wallonie.be/en/discover-wallonia/wallonia-and-europe/international-relations/cross-border-and-interregional-cooperation/index.html] , centres of excellence and-state-of-the-art technologies [http://www.wallonie.be/en/discover-wallonia/economy/centres-of-excellence-and-state-of-the-art-technologies/index.html] and business parks [http://www.wallonie.be/en/discover-wallonia/economy/walloon-incentives/index.html] . But the Region is not yet at the level of Flanders and is suffering many difficulties.

In the North of the Sillon industriel


The french word "Wallonie" comes from the term "Wallon", itself coming from "Walh". "Walh" is a very old germanic word used to refer to a speaker of Celtic or Latin. [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, "English and Welsch in Angles and Britons: O'Donnell Lectures", University of Cardiff Press, 1963. [http://druidry.org/board/photos/englishandwelsh.pdf read online] ]

The first apparition recognized of the French word "Wallonie" dates from 1842 [recognized by Albert Henry and actual studies. For your information, there is also a mention of "Wallonie" in 1825 : fr « les Germains, au contraire, réservant pour eux seuls le noble nom de Franks, s'obstinaient, dès le onzième siècle, à ne plus voir de Franks dans la Gaule, qu'ils nommaient dédaigneusement Wallonie, terre des Wallons ou des Welsches » Augustin Thierry, "Histoire de la conquête de l'Angleterre par les Normands", Éd. Firmin Didot, Paris, 1825, tome 1, p. 155. [http://www.google.be/books?id=2WUOAAAAQAAJ read online] ] in the "Essai d'étymologie philosophique" of the philologue and anthropologist Honoré Chavée who use it to refer to the romance word in opposition to Germany. Its «true» meaning, according to Albert Henry [fr Albert Henry, "Histoire des mots Wallons et Wallonie", Institut Jules Destrée, Coll. «Notre histoire», Mont-sur-Marchienne, 1990, 3rd ed. (1st ed. 1965), p. 12.] , happens two years later under the quill of François-Charles-Joseph Grandgagnage who by this name refers «this time, more and less neatly, the romance part of the young unitary State Belgium.» [Albert Henry, "ibidem", p. 13.] It is in 1886, with the writer and walloon militant Albert Mockel, that the word takes «its political meaning of cultural and regional affirmation» [fr «C'est cette année-là [1886] que naît le mot "Wallonie", dans son sens politique d'affirmation culturelle régionale, lorsque le Liégeois Albert Mockel crée une revue littéraire sous ce nom» Philippe Destatte, "L'identité wallonne", ibid., p. 32.] , in opposition with the word "Flanders" used by the Flemish Movement.


The emergence of an idea Walloon identity and a Walloon Movement organized has produced different symbols representing Wallonia and events celebrating it. The main symbol is the "coq hardi" (bold rooster, also named "coq wallon") which is widely used, particularly for flags. He was chosen by the Walloon Assembly on April 20, 1913 and formalized the same year by the painter Pierre Paulus. A hymn, Le Chant des Wallons [The Song of the Walloons] , composed in 1900, was also adopted. On September 21, 1913 first took place in Verviers the feast of Wallonia, the date is to commemorate the participation of Walloons during the Belgian revolution of 1830. There is also a motto of Wallonia, which is "Always Walloon ("Walon todi" in Walloon).

Except the motto, those symbols chosen by the Walloon Movement were set by the Walloon Parliament as official emblems and events of the Walloon Region in 1998. The French Community of Belgium chose the "coq hardi" for its flag in 1991.


Romance People or Land

The historians committed to the Belgian unity cause stressed the duality of Belgium. Léon Vanderkindere was speaking about "the striking difference of the two parts of the Belgian population" [L.Vanderkindere, "Ethnologie", in "Patria Belgica" Tome II, Bruxelles, 1873, p. 25 "la distinction des deux fractions de la population belge est frappante" ] . Henri Pirenne, recognized the same duality in his books and also in several lectures as, for instance, at the Walloon Congress of 1905: "The two people, the Walloon people and the Flemish people, who are in Belgium [...] made great things in different domains and different actions, with various capacities [...] Each of these people may have for the other the greatest admiration..." [Henri Pirenne's speech at the Walloon Congress of 1905 quoted by Jacques Stiennon in "La Wallonie, le Pays et les hommes", Tome II (lettres,arts, culture), La Renaissance du livre, Bruxelles, 1975, p. 461. The whole French sentence translated is (we translate "race" by "people") "Des deux races qui habitent la Belgique, la wallonne et la flamande, aucune n'a rien à envier à l'autre. Dans des domaines différents, avec des activités différentes et avec des aptitudes variées, elles ont toutes deux produit de grandes choses. Elles ont collaboré chacune à notre histoire dans une émulation réciproque, et elles ne peuvent avoir l'une pour l'autre que de l'admiration."] . He speaks also of two national feelings "There is undoubtless at home two other feelings, perfectly perceptible: the Flemish national feeling and the Walloon national feeling" [1. Congrès wallon. Compte rendu officiel, Liège 1905; Chantal KESTELOOT, "Mouvement wallon et identité nationale". C.H. CRISP, n°1392, 1993, p.17 : il y a certainement, chez nous, deux autres sentiments parfaitement reconnaissables : le sentiment national flamand et le sentiment national wallon .]

The point of view of the Official website of the Walloon Region is the following: "Julius Caesar conquered Gaul. Our ancestors became the Gallo-Romans and were called the "Walha" by their Germanic neighbours. Hence the name Wallonia. The "Walha" abandoned their Celtic dialects and started to speak Vulgar Latin. Already at that time, Wallonia was on the border between the Germanic world and the Latin world." [ [Officail website of the Walloon Region http://www.wallonie.be/en/discover-wallonia/history/a-young-region-with-a-long-history-from-57bc-to-1831/index.html] ] The historians committed to the Walloon cause are emphasizing the land of the Walloon people: Léopold Genicot [Léopold Genicot (editor), "Histoire de la Wallonie", Privat, Toulouse,1973, spoke in revue "Toudi" n° 1, 1987, p. of an "enclave" in "the area of the germanic languages", an "avant-garde"] , Francis Dumont etc. [Francis Dumont, quoted by Hervé Hasquin "Historiographie et politique en Belgique", IJD et ULB, Bruxelles, 1995, describes the Walloon territory " as a kind of isthmus" (p.218) connecting old France" and old "Germany"] . For Félix Rousseau, Wallonia has always been a romance land since Gallic Wars and constitutes a Latin "avant-garde" in the Germanic Europe. Félix Rousseau's book "La Wallonie, Terre Romane" [The Wallonia, Romance Land] begins like :

For centuries, the land of the Walloons has been and has never stopped to be a romance land. That's the capital fact of the history of the Walloons that explains their way to think, to feel, to believe. Moreover, in the whole romance world, the land of Walloons, stuk between germanic territories, occupies a special position, a position of "avant-garde". Indeed, the 300km long border separate those "extremi Latini" of the Flemish at the North, of the Germans at the East. [fr Depuis des siècles, la terre des Wallons est une terre romane et n'a cessé de l'être. Voilà le fait capital de l'histoire des Wallons qui explique leur façon de penser, de sentir, de croire. D'autre part, dans l'ensemble du monde roman, la terre des Wallons, coincée entre des territoires germaniques, occupe une position spéciale, une position d'avant-garde. En effet, une frontière de près de trois cents kilomètres sépare ces extremi Latini des Flamands au Nord, des Allemands à l'Est. Félix Rousseau, "La Wallonie, Terre romane", Institut Jules Destrée, Charleroi, 1962, 3rd ed., p. 9.] .

The maps of the regional languages in France and Wallonia and in the regions of the neigbbouring countries illustrates these facts as same as the map of the regional languages in Wallonia itself:

The official language of Wallonia is French, the Belgian French variety which differs from the standard French of France to various degrees depending on the speaker. That was the decision of the National Congress elected in november 1830 (some weeks after the democratic revolution against The Netherlands who pulled Belgium from this country), but Wallonia was the only region of Belgium who has been loyal to this decision even if both in Wallonia and Flanders the languages spoken by the upper classes was only the French. This language was not the language of the low classes in Wallonia (but the dialects, Walloon, PIcard and Lorrain as you can see it on the following maps). In Flanders, this decision of the upper classes only represented in the National Congress was the origin of a Flemish movement. There was not such a political movement in Wallonia. In this part of Belgium, the interests of the low classes will be defended by the trade unions and the socialist movement (and some parts of the LIberals and the catholic party). When the Flemish movement became successfull (at the end of the nineteenth century), the socialist party (for instance Paul Pastur Jules Destrée and some other leftist movements, as the communists, the christian-democrats, the liberals...), began to defend Wallonia in itself, not only their leftist programms. And during the sixties that will be also the case of the Walloon Trade Unions with André Renard. The most important justification of the Walloon movement is the fact that the Walloon population is a minority in Belgium (since 1830), even if the French-spaking upper classes dominated the Belgian state in the beginning.

Linguistic characteristics of Wallonia

The French language used in the administration and in the media is very similar in Belgium and in France. One notable difference is the use of the words "septante" (70) and "nonante" (90) in Belgium, as opposed to "soixante-dix" and "quatre-vingt-dix" in France. The other romance languages used are langue d'oïl regional languages : Walloon, Picard, Champenois, and Gaumais (a variety of Lorrain language).

The official language in Wallonia remained the French. Nevertheless the dialects of Romance Belgium are more important than in France for instance. These regional languages were not be defended by the Walloon movement beacause of its important social dimension:

The concepts of "francité" ou "romanité" are largely spread in the Walloon Movement today. They aime a romance linguistic community to which Walloon have always belong, that is to say since the Gallo-roman period. It strikes in this context that the wallingants have never fought for the recognition of the Walloon language as a standard language. Indeed, certainly since the 19th century the nations should have at it's disposal its own territory but also a language unified and prestigious. A dialect labelled as a linguistic variant is not enough. The prestige of French language presented a certain advantage in the fight against the Flemish Movement. [nl «De concepten van de "Francité" of "Romanité", een Romaanse taalgemeenschap waartoe de Walen sinds de Gallo-Romeinse periode, behoord zouden hebben, zijn wijdverspreid in de WB [Waalse Beweging] van vandaag. In deze context is het opvallend dat Waalsgezinden nooit hebben gestreden voor de erkenning van het Waals als standaardtaal. Zeker vanaf de 19de eeuw moesten naties immers niet alleen een eigen grondgebied hebben, maar ook een eigen prestigieuze standaardtaal. Een als dialect bestempelde taalvariant volstond niet. Het aanzien van het Frans was een belangrijk concurrentievoordeel in de strijd tegen de VB. » Maarten Van Ginderachter, "Het kraaien van de haan - Natie en nationalisme in Wallonië sinds 1880", Academia Press, coll. Jan Dhondt-Cahiers, Ghent, october 2005, p. 45. [http://www.flwi.ugent.be/btng-rbhc/pdf/Cahiers%20Jan%20Dhondt,%203,%20nl.pdf read online] ]

Champenois, Gaumais, Picard and Walloon (and also the germanic dialects present in Brussel and the French linguistic area) have only been officially recognized as regional languages since 24 December 1990 by a decree of the French Community of Belgium.

Walloon and Picard dialects were the predominant languages of the Walloon people until the beginning of the 20th century; French was the language of the upper class. With the development of education in French, these dialects have been in continual decline. There is currently an effort to revive Walloon dialects: some schools offer language courses in Walloon, which is also spoken in some radio programmes, but this effort remains very limited.

Francophone unity, respect for the diversity

Some Wallingants consider Wallonia as linguistically united and want to keep that linguistic unity. For example, the liberal and wallingant François Bovesse in 1929 said in one of his speeches :

Walloons, we should pay attention to that aspect of the problem. The prolific Flanders is invading us slowly; if those who come to us and that we welcome fraternally isolate themselves in flemish linguistic groups, if some fanatisms help them to not being absorbed, if an administrative legislation unclear about languages favors this non-absorption, Walloons, beware, in fifty years your land will not be yours anymore. It is hard, it is bitter to "drop" the Frenchmen (sic) of Flanders. It would be much harder and more dangerous to sacrifice our linguistic unity. [fr «Wallons, prenons garde à cet aspect du problème. La Flandre prolifique nous envahit lentement; si ceux qui viennent vers nous et que nous accueillons fraternellement s'isolent en des groupements flamands linguistiques, si certains fanatismes les aident à ne pas être absorbés, si une législation administrative peu nette en matière linguistique favorise cette non-absorption, Wallons, prenez garde, dans cinquante ans votre terre ne sera plus à vous.
C'est dur, c'est amer de "lâcher" les français de Flandre, ce serait bien plus dur et plus dangereux de sacrifier notre unité linguistique.» "La Province de Namur" Journal, 5-6 october 1929, p. 1 cited in "Pour la défense intégrale de la Wallonie - François Bovesse", Institut Jules Destrée, Collection Écrits politiques wallons, Mont-sur-Marchienne, vol. 4, p. 165.

Some other Wallingants, as for instance seven representatives of the Walloon Parliament in may 2006 made a proposal of a Walloon Constitution [ [Proposition de Constitution wallonne http://www.josehappart.be/propositions/constitution.php] ] , speaking of the inhabitants of the German-speaking municipalities (70.000 inhabitants at the East of the Province of Liège in Wallonia), as a very important link for Wallonia with the germanic countries of Europa [ Article 119 of the proposal: "Les habitants des communes de langue allemande et leurs institutions jouent pour la Wallonie entière, un rôle de relais privilégié vers les pays de culture germanique", Parlement wallon, 4 mai 2006]


Some wallingants, as the Chairmain of the Walloon Parliament José Happart, claim that the municipality of Voeren should belong both to Wallonia and Flanders [in french [http://www.action-fouronnaise.be/spip.php?article11] "un statut bi-régional]


Mosan art


Walloon films are often characterized by social realism, like those of the Dardenne brothers or Benoît Mariage, and the social documentaries of Patric Jean. On the other hand, films such as Thierry Zéno's "Vase de noces" (1974), "Mireille in the life of the others" by Jean-Marie Buchet (1979), "C'est arrivé près de chez vous" (English title: Man bites dog) by Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel (1992) and the works of Noël Godin and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are influenced by surrealism, absurdism and black comedy. Wallonia does not have an Anthology Film Archive Museum. No theater projects pointed cinema (experimental cinema, underground, or simply different, unusual test in the content or the form.) There is however the network of the theater known as "Art and essai" but, in practice, they diffuse only cinema subsidized "general public".


See also

* Walloon language
* Science and technology in Wallonia

External links

* [http://www.wallonie.be/en/home.shtml Official gateway to the Walloon Region]
* [http://wallonia.org/ Wallonia.org]

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