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View Poll Results: Which individual(s) do you think is/are the greatest Belgian(s) ever ?

Voters
13. You may not vote on this poll
  • Clovis I (born in Tournai)

    0 0%
  • Charlemagne (born in Liège), first Holy Roman Emperor

    5 38.46%
  • Godfrey of Bouillon, first King of Jerusalem

    1 7.69%
  • Baldwin IX of Flanders-Hainault, first Latin Emperor

    0 0%
  • Jan van Eyck, inventor of oil painting

    2 15.38%
  • Emperor Charles V (born in Ghent)

    1 7.69%
  • Peter Paul Rubens

    1 7.69%
  • Peter Minuit, founder of New York City

    1 7.69%
  • King Leopold II of Belgium

    0 0%
  • Ernest Solvay

    0 0%
  • Victor Horta

    0 0%
  • Hergé, creator of Tintin

    1 7.69%
  • Eddy Merckx

    1 7.69%
  • Justine Henin-Hardenne

    0 0%
  • George Simenon

    1 7.69%
  • Andreas Vesalius

    0 0%
  • Other

    3 23.08%
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Thread: Greatest Belgian ever

  1. #1
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    Question Greatest Belgian ever



    We already have a thread about the greatest German ever and one about the greatest French ever. I suggest we start one about Belgium. It will be more fun as usually people tend to ask "Who the hell is famous from Belgium ?". Here is a list I made to answer that question. Now let's vote for the one you think is the greatest of them.

    In terms of political impact on history and today's world, I would have to say Charlemagne (a true Walloon from Liege, like his father and grandfather). Charlemagne founded the longest lasting empire Europe has ever known, the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted over 1000 years (twice more than the Roman Empire from which it was inspired). Charlemagne unified what is now the Benelux, France, Germany, Switzerland Austria, Northern Italy and Catalonia. This area is roughly the same as the original 6 members of the European Union (Benelux, France, Germany and Italy), and the name of Charlemagne is in fact used in connection to the EU (e.g. as the EU section of the magazine The Economist, or as a nickname for the EU Commission, which address in Brussels is Boulevard Charlemagne).

    In terms of heritage left to Belgium, it is definitely Leopold II, who built more monuments than anybody else. However he can't be great as he was responsible for one of the biggest genocide commited by a single man in history.

    It's hard to choose a painter from the list. Rubens is maybe the most internationally famous.

    Nevertheless, Hergé is regarded as the father of Belgian comics, and his Tintin became a true symbol of Belgium, known and appreciated all over the world. So he would make a better choice than Rubens.

    I think that one of the Belgian who had the greatest impact on today's world (without knowing it at the time), and yet is not so famous even in Belgium, is Pierre Minuit, the guy who purchased Manhattan from the Amerindians and founded what later became the greatest, richest and most cosmopolitan city in the world : New York.
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  2. #2
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    How about solvay and victor horta ? they certainly had a big impact

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    I would think to most people the most famous Belgian is a fictional character called Hercule Poirot. If someone asked me then the first name I would come up with would most likely be Herge. I remember seeing an interview with Peter Ustinov once and he was asked could he name 6 famous Belgians, which he did. Might have been all those years of playing Poirot made him look for real famous Belgians

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    We could argue that people such as Haydn or Mozart were a bit Belgian as they lived all their lives in a country that no longer exists (The Habsburg Empire) and that comprised most of today's Belgium at the time. If we want to stretch it more, we could include famous French people born between 1789 and 1815, as all Belgium was part of France at that time...

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    Is that the same way Bob hope is a little bit American seeing he lived most of his life there, despite being born in Britain? Or even better why not say that between 1789 to 1815 that all Belgians are French? Somehow I think not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycernius
    Is that the same way Bob hope is a little bit American seeing he lived most of his life there, despite being born in Britain? Or even better why not say that between 1789 to 1815 that all Belgians are French? Somehow I think not.
    Well, would you describe Scots who lived before the creation of the UK to be British or only Scottish ? Likewise, are Scots born in the UK only Scottish or also British ? What if Scotland becomes independent ? Would a 19th-century Scot still seen as British if Scotland is no more part of the UK ?

    What's more nationalities are we know now are a fairly recent concept (late 18th to early 20th century depending on the part of the world). The place of birth alone doesn't determine nationality nowadays (e.g. Audrey Hepburn was born in Belgium but was not Belgian). But a few centuries ago, as there were no nationality law or passports, birth (and heritage) was a major factor.

    That's why I would say that Charles V of Habsburg was Belgian, eventhough his empire included about 10 modern countries, because he was born and raised in Belgium with French as his mother-tongue. Yet the Habsburg family split in the Austrian and Spanish branch after him, but he was neither Spanish nor Austrian of birth and education.

    Same for Charlemagne, who was also born and raised in Belgium, as were his parents and grandparents, despite that his empire later split and gave birth to the Kingdom of France and "Germany" (Holy Roman Empire of the German nation).
    Last edited by Maciamo; 13-06-06 at 20:52. Reason: spelling

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    Timeline of Belgian events and great people in history

    Without the Walloons, Europe would be Muslim (and would probably not have discovered the Americas nor developed the same level of scientific, artistic or political influence over the world.

    Without the Walloons Germany would not have had an empire lasting 1000 years.

    Without the Walloons, New York, the greatest city on the American contient, and possibly in the world, wouldn't exist.

    Without the Wallons, the saxophone, the most important "non-classical" instrument wouldn't exist - and thus jazz and derivated styles also wouldn't exist.


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    I have to admit that Béjart was the first person to come into my mind. :) Followed by a handful of painters. But Poirot is certainly the most famous fictional Belgian! *nods*

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kinsao View Post
    But Poirot is certainly the most famous fictional Belgian! *nods*
    Or second after Tintin (depends what you read )

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    I think Audrey Hepburn was born in Belgium?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by filosofia View Post
    I think Audrey Hepburn was born in Belgium?
    Yes, she was, of a Dutch mother and a British father.

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    That handpicked list needs more Flemish, German and English representation. English representation due to the English traders etc in Brugge, Duke of Wellington, Audrey Hepburn, William and John Cockerill who bought the industrial revolution and civillisation to Belgiumland etc. Seeing as King Leopoldo is listed, why not Marco Dutroux?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Knatchbull View Post
    That handpicked list needs more Flemish, German and English representation. English representation due to the English traders etc in Brugge, Duke of Wellington, Audrey Hepburn, William and John Cockerill who bought the industrial revolution and civillisation to Belgiumland etc. Seeing as King Leopoldo is listed, why not Marco Dutroux?
    To be fair, the Duke of Wellington was not Belgian at all, and Audrey Hepburn was only born in Belgium (and I wouldn't add an actor/actress to the greatest person list of any country). You are right for William and John Cockerill being a major influence in the industrial revolution, but they were not the only ones, and I would rather add them to the greatest English list.

    King Leopold II is indeed a controversial sovereign because of the Congo, but he did a lot for the industrial revolution and in building great edifices and museums in Belgium. Brussels would look so different without him.

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    Belgium would not exist if it were not for Wellington. Hitler also built great bling and done wonders for industry and Berlin to this day is loved by many, unlike Brussels which is considered a dump.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Knatchbull View Post
    Belgium would not exist if it were not for Wellington. Hitler also built great bling and done wonders for industry and Berlin to this day is loved by many, unlike Brussels which is considered a dump.
    A dump from what point of view ?

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    Thumbs up

    The greatest Beligan?

    Ronny Coutteure of course!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Knatchbull View Post
    ..... Brussels .... is considered a dump.
    I can't imagine anyone thinking that Brussels is "a dump". It's a fine city - and although it certainly is not the most exciting place in Europe - it is steep in culture, language, history and archetecture. Its' citizens are friendly, intelligent and easy-going.

    There are SEVERAL Belgian cities/towns that I admire much more than Brussels but to call it a dump is a vicious sin.

    I disagree with you Derek in the strongest possible terms.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miss Marple's nephew View Post
    I can't imagine anyone thinking that Brussels is "a dump". It's a fine city - and although it certainly is not the most exciting place in Europe - it is steep in culture, language, history and archetecture. Its' citizens are friendly, intelligent and easy-going.

    There are SEVERAL Belgian cities/towns that I admire much more than Brussels but to call it a dump is a vicious sin.

    I disagree with you Derek in the strongest possible terms.
    Brussels is a city of contrasts. Some poor neighbourhoods (maybe as much as a third of the city) could easily be called dumps, but other parts of the city have some wonderful architecture, probably among the best in northern Europe outside Paris and London. The Grand Place is the most beautiful square I can think of (better than Place Vendôme in Paris or Plaza de Espana in Madrid).

    There are many beautiful houses in Brussels. It's a shame that the city suffers from an utter lack of architectural homogeneity. One has to look at houses individually instead of looking at a whole street. It's a bit like when visiting Japan and having to mentally ignore the ugly concrete buildings and power lines around the beautiful temples.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    There are many beautiful houses in Brussels. It's a shame that the city suffers from an utter lack of architectural homogeneity. One has to look at houses individually instead of looking at a whole street.
    I guess it depends upon how you look at it. There's a road in Anvers (you probably know of) where there are houses from several different epok, lined up one after another. I enjoy looking at those houses but still I can understand why you'd think it is a shame.


    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    It's a bit like when visiting Japan and having to mentally ignore the ugly concrete buildings and power lines around the beautiful temples.
    Many of the greatest surprises can be found in eastern Europe, at least from my experience. I travelled all of the "communist block" countries during the Soviet era. Shit, shit, and more shit! But I've been back to some of them since the end of the cold war. Wow! Now that it's been cleaned up there are some very beautiful cities that I once considered awful and ugly. But there again it's like you say, "having to mentally ignore the ugly concrete buildings "

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycernius View Post
    I would think to most people the most famous Belgian is a fictional character called Hercule Poirot. ...
    Yes, and this character is responsible for one of the greatest quotes in film history.
    When he was called a "French idiot", he replied with great indignation, "Belgian idiot!"

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    I'd like to suggest George Simenon it seems that Maciamo forgot to mention him but he is the most famous belgian writer of the last century and a lot of europeans red his books or watched movies based on his novels ...but people actually think he was french
    I'm quite skeptic in considering Charles V as a belgian(even though his mother tongues were dutch and french he is actually seen as a symbol of Spain) and surely Charlemagne wasn't a belgian........if Charlemagne were considered a belgian the roman emperor Trajan would be considered spanish and Augustus italian, but they were neither italian nor spanish they were just romans and Charlemagne imho was a frank
    Last edited by antibus; 31-03-09 at 01:58.

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    Most of these people listed in your poll aren't Belgians, because Belgium as a Nation didn't exist, thus they can't be Belgian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Without the Walloons, Europe would be Muslim (and would probably not have discovered the Americas nor developed the same level of scientific, artistic or political influence over the world.

    He, he like the medieval/dark age Christianity was a thing of beauty. Thanks for saving it.
    Please, it was a 1 000 waisted years, a millennium down the drain.
    The biggest advances in Europe came after religion was separated from science, economy and later from politic. The things that made today's Europe, with hundreds of millions of people, peaceful and prosperous.
    I don't really think that any religion, either pagan, Christianity or Islam would have changed the history (development of technological civilisation) of Europe too much. Give or take a hundred years but we would have gotten here regardless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Well, would you describe Scots who lived before the creation of the UK to be British or only Scottish ? Likewise, are Scots born in the UK only Scottish or also British ? What if Scotland becomes independent ? Would a 19th-century Scot still seen as British if Scotland is no more part of the UK ?

    What's more nationalities are we know now are a fairly recent concept (late 18th to early 20th century depending on the part of the world). The place of birth alone doesn't determine nationality nowadays (e.g. Audrey Hepburn was born in Belgium but was not Belgian). But a few centuries ago, as there were no nationality law or passports, birth (and heritage) was a major factor.

    That's why I would say that Charles V of Habsburg was Belgian, eventhough his empire included about 10 modern countries, because he was born and raised in Belgium with French as his mother-tongue. Yet the Habsburg family split in the Austrian and Spanish branch after him, but he was neither Spanish nor Austrian of birth and education.

    Same for Charlemagne, who was also born and raised in Belgium, as were his parents and grandparents, despite that his empire later split and gave birth to the Kingdom of France and "Germany" (Holy Roman Empire of the German nation).

    British by Nationality. Scottish by the Grace of God.

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    Quote Originally Posted by S-K View Post
    Most of these people listed in your poll aren't Belgians, because Belgium as a Nation didn't exist, thus they can't be Belgian.
    What if I said that someone is Andalucian or Cornish or Breton or Parisian or Provencal, because they were born and lived there most of their lives ? Are you saying that it is mistaken to give them such a label because there is no Cornish or Parisian nation ? Stop thinking in exclusive terms. People can be both French and Parisian, both Californian and American, both Bavarian and German, even if that does not match "nation-states".

    Incidentally, the concept of nations or nation-states is completely obsolete nowadays. Borders are purely political fabrications. It's not because someone is born in Strasbourg and another person on the opposite side of the Rhine, let's say in Offenburg, that they are more different than people born at the other end of France or Germany. Try to think in terms of gradients instead of black and white. If central France is blue and central Germany is yellow, people living along the border are green. It's pointless to argue that green on the French side is bluer than on the German side. Well, at least in terms of history and genetics.

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