In the middle of the 19th century, it was generally accepted, that the Belgian Army would not be able to resist any enemy attack by the use of it's Field Army only. When an attack could not be stopped, the Field Army should be able to retreat into fortified areas. To support thos strategy, fortresses had to be build around major strategic points, like the city of Antwerpen (in English : Antwerp) which followed the Rupel-Nete river defense line in the north part of the country and the city of Namur and Liège in the South-East. When the Belgian capital was under threat, the government would eventually move to Antwerpen, which was considered the 'National Refuge' (national stronghold).
In order to provide adequate protection, a ring of fortresses was build by General Henri Alexis Brialmont (1821-1903), around Antwerpen, starting from the year 1859 until 1914.