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Walthère Frère-Orban

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Walthère Frère-Orban

Walthère Frère-Orban
Prime Minister of Belgium
In office
19 June 1878 – 16 June 1884
Monarch Leopold II
Preceded by Jules Malou
Succeeded by Jules Malou
In office
3 January 1868 – 2 July 1870
Monarch Leopold II
Preceded by Charles Rogier
Succeeded by Jules d'Anethan
Personal details
Born (1812-04-22)22 April 1812
Liège, France
(now Belgium)
Died 2 January 1896(1896-01-02) (aged 83)
Political party Liberal Party

Hubert Joseph Walthère Frère-Orban (22 April 1812 - 2 January 1896) was a Belgian liberal politician and statesman.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Political philosophy 3
  • Sources 4

Early life

He was born at Liège, received his education at home and in Paris, and began the practice of law in his native town. He identified himself with the Liberal party, and was conspicuous in the controversy with the Catholic clergy.


In 1846, he wrote the program, which was accepted as the charter for a liberal political party. In 1847 he was elected to the Belgian Chamber and appointed Minister of Public Works. and from 1848 to 1852 he held the portfolio of Finance. He founded the national bank of Belgium, reduced postage, abolished the newspaper tax and was a strong advocate of free trade.

His work, La mainmorte et la charité (1854–57), directed against the Conservatives, produced a great effect on the position of parties in Belgium. As a result, in 1857, the Liberals returned to power and Frère-Orban became once more Minister of Finance in the cabinet of Charles Rogier, whom he succeeded to become the 11th Prime Minister in 1868. In 1870 the Catholics regained their supremacy and forced him to retire, but from 1878 to 1884 he was again at the head of the cabinet, most notably breaking off diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1880 (which were restored in 1884).

Standing as a liberal again in the October 1894 elections, he categorically refused the support of Catholics against progressives and socialists. He was not re-elected, defeated by the socialist Célestin Demblon.

Weakened by illness, he died 2 January 1896. Frère-Orban lies in its birthplace, Liège, in the cemetery of Robermont.

Political philosophy

Frère-Orban's liberalism consisted in the assertion of the authority of the state over the church and the defense of the system of secular public instruction against the clergy. He was at all times opposed to the "undue extension" of suffrage. Among other works he wrote Le question monétaire.


  • Liberal Archive
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Rogier
Prime Minister of Belgium
Succeeded by
Jules d'Anethan
Preceded by
Jules Malou
Prime Minister of Belgium
Succeeded by
Jules Malou
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