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Bank account of “National Trust Belgium” (NTAB)
BE17 0016 2443 2021
The Castle of Beersel is a classic example of a medieval fortified castle. Fortifications were already erected around 1300 to protect the inhabitants of Brussels. However, it was in fact the “Brusselaars” who captured the castle in 1489, with the help of the French artillery of Charles VIII.
To understand this peculiar situation we need to know that the people of Flanders and Brabant were opposed to the marriage of Mary of Burgundy and the Habsburgian Emperor Maximilian I. Moreover, after the death of Mary, Maximilian became the guardian of their underage son Philippe the Fair (later King of Spain) which was not to the liking of Flanders and Brabant.
In spite of the uprising in Brabant and Brussels, Hendrik III van Witthem, Lord of Beersel remained loyal to the Emperor and defended the castle against the “Brusselaars”, who took the fortress by storm with the help of the Royal French Artillery. The leader of the defenders, Willem de Ramilly was hanged on the Grande Place in Brussels.
Finally Maximilian was able to recapture Brussels and the “Brusselaars” had to pay damages to the van Witthems. The castle was rebuilt between 1491 and 1508 and today still looks the same as at the end of the 15th century.
Hendrik III van Witthem, Lord if Beersel and Knight of the Golden Fliece and Chamberlain of Maximilian of Austria was buried in the Parish Church of Beersel, which we will visit after the AGM. The alabaster funeral monument (“gisants”) of Hendrik II and his wife erected by their son Hendrik III is to be seen there. Apparently the painter Rogier van der Weyden was involved in this sculptural project.
After visiting the castle a short walk uphill brings us to the venue of the AGM “3 Fonteinen”. Here in the aftermath of the Second World War, Flemish writers and poets such as Herman Teirlinck (founding father), Hugo Claus, Gerard Walschap, Maurice Roelants, August Vermeylen, Ernest Claes, Albert Westerlinck and many others used to meet in the Mijol Club, a literary club named after an old pub game. Besides having discussions and playing Mijol they enjoyed the local beer “geuze” and the traditional local gastronomy.
Following their example we will start the AGM with a little beer tasting of geuze and kriek. (Mijol is a pub game consisting of a tray with a slit in which brass coins have to be thrown).