Territory of Belgium
surrounded by the Netherlands
district of Baarle-Nassau
). Baarle-Hertog consists of twenty separated parcel
s of Belgian territory messily clustered together, located about five kilometers from the main Dutch-Belgian frontier
. To make things more interesting, there are a few Dutch enclaves within
these Belgian enclaves, and there is even a Belgian enclave within a Dutch enclave within a Belgian enclave within the Netherlands (called a counter-counter-counter enclave on one website)
. The division between the Netherlands and Belgium sometimes extends across streets and through buildings.
The circumstances that led to this cadastral chaos originate in the twelfth century. The area back then comprised of both ducal fiefs and portions of those fiefs. Count Dirk VII of Holland and Hendrick I, the Duke of Brabant had rival claims over the territory. After the death of the duke the territory was somehow inherited by a Godfried of Schoten with both freeland and perpetual land titles. Under the Charter of 1190 Godfried was forced to hand the land over to Duke Henry, who then immediately leased it back to Godfried (thus cementing Duke Henry's claim, something that riled Count Dirk). During the fourteenth century, various ducal parts of Baarle-Hertog were horsetraded by rival lords who needed to raise money.
Perhaps because of their trivial size, and the nightmare complexity of the territorial arrangements, statesmen never bothered to settle the Baarle-Hertog question in any major European treaty. The 1648 Peace of Munster the the enclaves and the surrounding territories merely got new owners : The United Provinces and the Spanish Southern Netherlands (modern day Belgium). The Treaty of Fontainebleau of 1785 between the Dutch Republic and Emperor Joseph II never got around to reincorporating the Dutch parts of Baarle-Hertog before the entire area was subsumed by France. Yet the enclaves were still divided between the municipal borders of Antwerp and Noord-Brabant. The French wanted a common border for the sake of determining tax levies, but the Belgian Revolution of 1830 stopped that. A few cartographic mistakes followed and the ownership of more parcels became undetermined. The boundaries between Belgium and the Netherlands were finally deliniated in the Treaty of Maastricht of 1843, except for 50 km of Baarle-Hertog territory that comprises of 5,732 parcels of land.
Since then there have been two attempts - in 1875 and 1996 - to redetermine nationality for the sake of local government expediency, but the parliaments of both countries in both instances voted against changes.