Belgian general strike of 1893

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The Belgian general strike of 1893 was ordered (12 April) by the General Board of the Belgian Labour Party after the Belgian Parliament rejected (11 April) the Law Proposal on universal suffrage.

This general strike forced a "terrified"[1] bourgeoisie into concessions (according to Henri Pirenne Wp→: the bourgeoisie in the Parliament). But following the same author, "the leaders of the Belgian Labour Party were also terrified in front of events that were no more under their control".[2]

"In the end," on 18 April, "a toned down version of universal suffrage, which gave plural votes based on wealth, education and age (ensuring the bourgeoisie of a safe majority), was approved."[3]

General strike diary according to Otago Witness[4]

Civic guard's fusillade of Mons Wp→ on 17 April 1893 in Le Petit Journal Wp→ May 1893

Otago Witness Wp→ a weekly magazine of the Otago Wp→, New Zealand wrote a concise and detailed reportage on the story.

April 12

The trouble with the strikers at Borinage Wp→ has led to the calling out of the civic guard.

April 14

The strike ordered by the Belgian Labour party is of an extensive character, but it is not general. (...)

April 15

The general strike in Belgium is extending. (...) Much blood has been spilt, and many persons seriously wounded.

Brussels, April 17

The Belgian strikers now number 50,000. Many have been killed in conflicts with the police and military. (...) There is increased ferment throughout Belgium, and desperate fighting has taken place at Mons and Antwerp. A number of the Civic Guard were wounded, and several strikers killed and many wounded.

April 18

The strikers at Mons are maddened by the death of their comrades, and have sworn to avenge them.

Violent conflicts have taken place between the civic guard and rioters in Mons. The troops charged the mob, many of whom were wounded. The strikers retaliated with bricks, and the guard then fired, killing five and wounded many more. A large number were arrested, and the crowd then fled, taking the dead with them. (...)

The Belgian Government advocate manhood suffrage combined with plural voting. If the proposal is rejected the King must intervene...

Henri Pirenne wrote nevertheless the strike quickly spread to the Walloon Wp→ basins of Liège Wp→, Charleroi Wp→ Centre Wp→, Borinage Wp→ Verviers Wp→ and also in Flanders Wp→ in Ghent Wp→ and in Antwerp Wp→

The riots of Mons were also accurately described by the Otago Witness. We read almost the same version in a Walloon book.[5] There were finally seven strikers killed by the civic guard of Mons.

See also


  1. Henri Pirenne, Histoire de Belgique, Tome VII, Maurice Lambertin, Bruxelles, 1948, p. 319. Histoire de Belgique Tome VII
  2. Henri Pirenne, Histoire de Belgique, p.319. French: Les chefs du parti ouvrier s'épouvantent de la tournure des événements qu'ils ne peuvent plus maîtriser. Histoire de Belgique Tome VII
  3. Els Witte,Jan Craeybeckx,Alain Meynen Political History of Belgium: From 1830 Onwards, Academic and Scentific Publishers, Brussels, 2009, p. 278. ISBN 978-90-5487-517-8
  4. Otago Witness, 20 April 1893, p. 17
  5. Léon Fourmanoit, Des luttes, des hommes et du Borinage, Mons 1983 D/1983/3323/001 : La garde opère un simulacre de charge. Mouvement de recul de la foule mais au même moment des pierres sont lancées (...) Sans sommation aucune, un coup de feu part suivi d'une fusillade générale de quelques dizaines de secondes...
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