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On the refusal of the great majority, they were banished en masse and a decree issued, closing all churches served by recalcitrant priests.
The officials of many communes ignored this order, and in more than one respect, it became a source of trouble.
The victory of Fleurus, gained by the French army over the Austrian forces, 26 June, 1794, gave to revolutionary France all the territories which constitute Belgium of today: the Austrian Netherlands, the ecclesiastical principality of Liège, the little monastic principality of Stevelot-Malmedy, and the Duchy of Bouillon.
The French, who professed to have entered the country to deliver the Belgians form the yoke of tyranny and to liberate them, in reality gave themselves up to such pillaging and extortion that, as a Brussels magistrate said, they left the inhabitants nothing but their eyes to weep with.
They also refused to sanction the promise of fidelity to the Constitution of the seventh year, which the Government exacted of the clergy before permitting them to exercise the duties of their ministry, because the Constitution rested on false bases and contained articles deserving of condemnation.Of this number, the oldest and those who were ill were detained in Belgium and in France ; about three hundred were sent to Rochefort with Guiana as their ultimate destination, and, in the interval, were held at the Ile de Re and the Ile d'Oleron where they had much to undergo from ill treatment.It was the darkest hour during the French domination, and was terminated by the coup d'état of 18 Brumaire, 1799.But the French Government soon caused these local differences to be lost sight of in the common hatred of the foreign oppressor.The Directory began by enforcing, one after another, the French revolutionary laws concerning monastic orders and public worship in Belgium.