The Kingdom of Belgium is located in Western Europe, bordered by France, Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg. A population of eleven million occupies 30,500 square miles of land. The capital and most densely populated city is Brussels, known for its historical and architectural landmarks. The Dutch-speaking flemish communities make up roughly 59% of the population, with the French-speaking population comprising the other 40%. A very small population (less than 1%) of German speaking individuals live in the East Cantons.
In 1830, the Belgian Revolution resulted in the separation of the Southern Provinces from the Netherlands. Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Queen Victoria’s Uncle, became the King on July 21, 1831, currently celebrated as Belgium’s “National Day.” The Netherlands eventually recognized Belgium’s independence in 1839. Throughout the 16th to the 20th centuries, the country has served as a battlefield for many European conflicts. Although it declared itself neutral in both the First and Second World Wars, Belgium fought bravely when German Forces crossed their borders, ultimately becoming occupied until 1918 and laying down their weapons in May 1940.
Administration of the National Orders are the responsibility of the Foreign Minister, and are conferred by the King. Conferrals occur on either April 8, the anniversary of the birth of King Albert I or on November 15, the Feast of the King. Since 1921, Belgian nationals must purchase their own insignia after a national order is conferred upon them. Prior to that year, the insignia was covered by the Foreign Ministry. The most prestigious order is the Order of Leopold I, officially established on July 11, 1832 in four classes. Today the order consists of five classes and three divisions (civil, military and maritime).
In MedalBook, Belgium is organized by Orders, Medals & Decorations, Badges and Insignia.
Christensen, Rolf. Kongeriget Belgiens ordner, hæderstegn og medaljer 1830-1995. Næstved: Forlaget Devantier, 1995.
Quinot, H. Recueil illustré des ordres de chevalerie et décorations belges de 1830 à 1963. 5th ed. Brussels: H. Quinot, 1963.
Ruokonen, Antti. The Spirit of the Lion: Orders of Belgium. Finland: Multiprint Vaasa, 2012.
Van Hollebeke, Léopold Dominique Marie. L’Ordre de Léopold et les marques d’honneur créés en Belgique depuis 1830: histoire et législation d’après les documents officiels. Brussels: A. Boitte, 1880.
Van Hoorebeke, Pat. 175 ans de l’Ordre de Léopold & les ordres nationaux belges. Brussels: Koninllijk Legermuseum, 2007.
Belgian Army 1940-1946. Modified on June 11, 2011. http://www.be4046.eu/index1.htm.
“Belgian Red Cross.” Gentleman’s Military Interest Club. Published on August 9, 2012. http://gmic.co.uk/topic/55306-belgium-red-cross/
“Document to the Red Cross 2nd Class Medal.” Gentleman’s Military Interest Club. Published on February 28, 2011. http://gmic.co.uk/topic/48206-document-to-the-red-cross-2nd-class-medal/
Meersschaert, Hendrik. “Les Décorations belges officielles de la première guerre mondiale.” http://www.wo1.be/UserFiles/files/BelgieMedailles-FR.pdf
“Pilot & Air Force Insignia (1946-Present).” Modified on December 5, 2010. http://users.skynet.be/Belgian.militaria/pilotair1946-present.htm
The website run by Hendrik Meersschaert was also used extensively throughout the Medalbook project, but it appears that it is no longer active: http://users.skynet.be/hendrik/.