The centenary of the 1830 revolution in Belgium

The late summer is an excellent time for those of us in Cambridge libraries to catch up on work that is less pressing, but still needs to get done. Foreign academics have by and large gone back to their home institutions, while our own academics and students haven’t yet fully returned. Some older donated volumes arrived in the UL several months ago, but it wasn’t until September that I had a chance to examine them and assure myself that they belong in the Library’s collections. Of note are four volumes produced during the 1930 celebrations in Brussels honouring the centenary of the 1830 revolution:

Most  of these commemorate Belgian history through military history. Royaume de Belgique : centenaire de l’indépendance nationale (2016.11.2142) [with the colourful cover] includes illustrations of Belgian officers from the late 18th century, demonstrating how uniforms have changed over time. The similarly titled book with a buff cover, at classmark 2016.11.2143 includes many of the same illustrations but without the large-format portraits on glossy plates.

A selection of Belgian military uniforms

The highly illustrated Psyché (in process) includes all branches from the history of the Belgian military, including mounted soldiers and officers, sailors, the colonial army and military aviators, among others. Of historical interest, this volume also includes some rather excellent advertisements, including for cars, restaurants and shampoo. Finally, Les fastes belges 1930 (2016.11.2141), provides a rather Belgian-centred view of history, from La légende de l’anneau d’or to Les gloires nationales a travers les siècles. Presented in 9 tableaux, with actors credited for each, it appears that these were executed as mini-plays or spectacles. It also has a splendid woodcut giving the illustrator’s name.

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Josh Hutchinson

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