Errors and Omissions: Don’t deprive Belgium of its long and illustrious history

It is true that the modern kingdom of Belgium dates only from 1830 - but the name goes back a long way

Share

On Monday, we carried a picture of uniformed Napoleonic war enthusiasts taking part in a procession to commemorate the battle of Ligny, which took place in June 1815, two days before Waterloo. “Napoleon’s army,” the caption informed us, “defeated the Prussians in what is now Belgium.” That is not wrong, but it leaves out a great deal. For the country was already known as Belgium in 1815.

It is true that the modern kingdom of Belgium dates only from 1830. The country has a complicated history and has gone under several official names. The territory of the medieval counties of Flanders and Brabant, falling under the sovereignty of the Valois dukes of Burgundy, and later of the house of Habsburg, became the Spanish Netherlands, and later still the Austrian Netherlands.

But the name Belgium goes back a long way – at least as far as the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. That the name was current at the time of Waterloo is attested by the wonderful passage from Childe Harold (1818) in which Byron tells of the Duchess of Richmond’s ball, given in Brussels before the battle.

“There was a sound of revelry by night

“And Belgium’s capital had gathered then

“Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright

“The lamps shone o’er fair women and brave men.”

The upshot of all that is that in the picture caption the words “what is now” are redundant.

Two-for-one offer: Never before have two of this column’s most popular features, a Homophone Horror and a Mixed (or at least misapplied) Metaphor, been found in the same sentence. I am grateful to Bob Lowrie for pointing out the following, from a news story published on Monday: “The novel, published in 1938, is widely regarded [the text actually said “regarding”, but since there is nothing interesting to say about that, we will pretend not to have noticed it] as the pinnacle of the Jeeves cannon.”

First, “cannon” should be “canon”. The former is a gun; the latter a collection of sacred texts, or a cleric on the governing body of a cathedral. It is difficult to see how any of them could be said to have a pinnacle, which is the apex of a roof or a mountain.

You’re fired: “Boy, 16, fired airgun pellets at schoolchildren,” said a headline last Saturday. We who practise the noble art of archery suffer constant low-level annoyance from writers who refer to “firing” arrows from a bow. Firearms are fired, obviously, but arrows are shot, there being no fire involved. The same ought to apply to airguns.

Puzzle corner: Here is a headline from Monday. To appreciate its full mystery you have to see it with the original line breaks:

Iran censors crack

down ahead of

presidential poll

Eh? How do you censor a crack? At the second or third reading, you get it: “censors” is a noun, not a verb; and “crack” is a verb, not a noun.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Negotiator

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Central London based firm loo...

Recruitment Genius: Events / Conference Operations Manager

£25000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Administrator

£14400 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a multi-d...

Recruitment Genius: Service, Maintenance & Installation Engineers - London

£34000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of Energy Consult...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd champion the young and hold a cabinet meeting on top of Ben Nevis

Bear Grylls
 

i Editor's Letter: The five reasons why I vote

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot