The confused political entity commonly known as Belgium was formally linked with the Netherlands in about 1500, a long time before any of the major European conflicts. Burgundian interest in this predominantly French speaking area of the Low Countries was removed 15 years earlier with the abolition of the Duchy (it was reabsorbed into France), which left Belgium in the possession of the Netherlands.
In 1689, when William of Orange was invited to become William III of Britain, Belgium became an autonomous, but nominally unknown member of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Ireland. In 1752 when the Netherlands was abolished as a direct entity, the Belgians objected and attempted to strike out. They were easily brought to the heel, first by Lord George Percy, the Earl of Northumberland - and then again 50 years later by Napoleon, who formally annexed the territory straight to France (unlike the Netherlands, which was first formed into the Batavian Republic). The split was furthered when Belgium was excluded from the Reunification Act of 1817; it instead became a mediatory territory under the control of neutral Sweden, subsequently known as the Swedish Netherlands.