In 1714, at the end of the War of Spanish Succession, the southern Netherlands, previously Spanish, came under Austrian rule. The districts around Tournai and Ypres, French since 1668 and 1678 respectively, were also handed over to the Austrians. Neither the British nor the Dutch wished to see the Spanish Netherlands pass into the hands of Philip V, the Bourbon King of Spain and grandson of Louis XIV of France.
The task of preventing French influence there fell on their ally, Austria, which took it on without enthusiasm, for it was obvious that if the peace of Europe failed again, Austria would be at war with France and their new acquisition would once more become a battleground. This happened in the 1740s, though in the next decade Austria reversed its policy of enmity with France. Another reason why the Austrians were reluctant was that their acquisition was conditional upon the Dutch garrisoning Barrier Fortresses against the French with Austria paying for it.
For a time in late 1789 and early 1790 it looked as if Austria might be driven from the southern Netherlands by internal revolt, but in the event it was Revolutionary France, not Belgian revolt, that ended Austrian rule. In 1795, together with the former Bishopric of Liège, which had separated the eastern lands of the Austrian Netherlands from the main body, the southern Netherlands were divided up into departments of the French Republic. When at last Napoleon was defeated Austria did not want the return of its Belgic provinces and they became part of the united Netherlands. In the 1830s the southern Netherlands was divided between Belgium and Luxembourg.