In late medieval times, the area that became Belgium was a rich trading area with a flourishing wool trade, although there was poverty in towns and some parts of the countryside. The area was heavily ravaged by wars, including during the War of Spanish Succession, the War of Austrian Succession, the Seven Years’ War, and the French Revolutionary wars. Gradually the region, especially the city of Liège, became an important industrial area and played a crucial role in the Industrial Revolution. The result was that by the time Belgium became independent in 1830, large factories were beginning to be built in the country, and there was an industrial working class, as well as the rural poor. This led to moves toward social change in ...

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