Internet Culture

Belgian farmer accidentally moves French border, makes France smaller

Borders on insanity? The farmer apparently got annoyed by a stone in his tractor's path.

"Gonna have to put things back in place," wrote the mayor of the Belgian village that gained territory.

Franch got a little smaller, and Belgium a little bigger, thanks to an annoyed Belgian farmer. The farmer in the border village of Erquelinnes moved a stone in the path of his tractor, according to the BBC. It turned out not to be just any stone, but one marking the boundary line between the two countries. In moving it, the Belgian gave his country 7.5 more feet (2.29 meters), by taking that same amount away from France. 

The stone has history on its side: The French-Belgian border was formalized under the 1820 Treaty of Kortrijk, and the stone was originally placed there in 1819 when the border was first laid out. The neighboring French village of Bousignies-sur-Roc suffered the shrinkage.

David Lavaux, mayor of Erquelinnes, posted a photo on Facebook of a French TV channel shooting video of the border stone.

"We moved the 1819 border," he posted. "Belgium and our municipality are enlarged; the French don't agree, obviously. Gonna have to put things back in place."

Avec une équipe de tf1 à la frontière entre Bousignies et Montignies. On a bougé la borne de 1819, la Belgique et notre...

Posted by David Lavaux on Monday, May 3, 2021

The farmer will be asked to return the stone, and if he doesn't, he could face criminal charges. In a sign of just how long it's been since a border battle, the BBC notes "the case could end up at the Belgian foreign ministry, which would have to summon a Franco-Belgian border commission, dormant since 1930."