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Belgian 1870-1871 War Service Medal

Belgium like Switzerland is a multilingual neutral nation. Unfortunately Belgium is not blessed with the natural defenses of the Swiss Alps. In 1830 after a civil war Belgium gained it’s independence from The Netherlands. Since then the French have had their eyes on the French Speaking part of Belgium while the Dutch still desired the Flemish part. Germany on the other hand would have been happy to include Belgium in their customs union. After the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 one of the rewards Napoleon III wanted for his neutrality during that war was the French speaking part of Belgium which was put in writing. Bismarck, who was not subject to any privacy laws passed this piece of information on to the Belgians when the Franco-Prussian War started. This put Belgium squarely on the Prussian side during that war and the entire Belgian army was mobilized to protect the border. As luck would have it the only thing the Belgians had to do was to disarm and intern the French troops who would rather surrender to the neutral Belgians than the Prussians who were in hot pursuit. As a result the Belgian army received a military service medal (illustrated below) for remaining neutral.