The Duchy of Brabant was a State of the Holy Roman Empire established in 1183. It developed from the Landgraviate of Brabant and formed the heart of the historic Low Countries, part of the Burgundian Netherlands from 1430 and of the Habsburg Netherlands from 1482, until it was partitioned after the Dutch revolt.
Present-day North Brabant (Staats-Brabant) was adjudicated to the Generality Lands of the Dutch Republic according to the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, while the reduced duchy remained part of the Southern Netherlands until it was conquered by French Revolutionary forces in 1794. Today all the duchy's former territories, apart from exclaves, are in Belgium except for the Dutch province of North Brabant.
Duchy of Brabant
Coat of arms (1459)
The Duchy of Brabant (1350) within the 17 provinces and the borders of the Holy Roman Empire (thick line)
|Status||State of the Holy Roman Empire|
part of the Burgundian Netherlands (1430–1482)
part of the Habsburg Netherlands (1482–1794)
part of the Southern Netherlands (1648–1794)
|Duke of Brabant|
|Henry I (first)|
|Francis I (last)|
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
• Inherited by Duchy of Burgundy
• Inherited by House of Habsburg
• Inherited by Habsburg Spain
|30 January 1648|
|7 March 1714|
|18 September 1794|
The Duchy of Brabant was historically divided into four parts, each with its own capital. The four capitals were Leuven, Brussels, Antwerp and 's-Hertogenbosch. Before 's-Hertogenbosch was founded, Tienen was the fourth capital.
Its territory consisted essentially of the three modern-day Belgian provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Antwerp, the Brussels-Capital Region and most of the present-day Dutch province of North Brabant. Its most important cities were Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven, Breda, 's-Hertogenbosch, Lier and Mechelen.
Probably first used by Count Lambert I of Louvain (ruled 1003-1015), the lion is documented in a 1306 town's seal of Kerpen, together with the red lion of Limburg. Up to the present, the Brabant lion features as the primary charge on the coats of arms of both Flemish and Walloon Brabant, and of the Dutch province of North Brabant.
The region's name is first recorded as the Carolingian shire pagus Bracbatensis, located between the rivers Scheldt and Dijle, from braec "marshy" and bant "region". Upon the 843 Treaty of Verdun it was part of Lotharingia within short-lived Middle Francia, and was ceded to East Francia according to the 880 Treaty of Ribemont.
In earlier Roman times, the Nervii, a Belgic tribe, lived in the same area. They were incorporated into the Roman province of Belgica, and considered to have both Celtic and Germanic cultural links. At the end of the Roman period the region was conquered by the Germanic Franks.
In 959 the East Frankish king Otto I of Germany elevated Count Godfrey of Jülich to the rank of duke of Lower Lorraine. In 962 the duchy became an integral part of the Holy Roman Empire, where Godfrey's successors of the ducal Ardennes-Verdun dynasty also ruled over the Gau of Brabant. Here, the counts of Leuven rose to power, when about 1000 Count Lambert I the Bearded married Gerberga, the daughter of Duke Charles of Lower Lorraine, and acquired the County of Brussels. About 1024 southernmost Brabant fell to Count Reginar V of Mons (Bergen, later Hainaut), and Imperial lands up to the Schelde river in the west came under the rule of the French Counts Baldwin V of Flanders by 1059. Upon the death of Count Palatine Herman II of Lotharingia in 1085, Emperor Henry IV assigned his fief between the Dender and Zenne rivers as the Landgraviate of Brabant to Count Henry III of Leuven and Brussels.
About one hundred years later, in 1183/1184, Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa formally established the Duchy of Brabant and created the hereditary title of duke of Brabant in favour of Henry I of Brabant, son of Count Godfrey III of Leuven. Although the original county was still quite small - and limited to the territory between the Dender and Zenne rivers, situated to the west of Brussels - from the 13th century onwards its name came to apply to the entire territory under control of the dukes.
In 1190, after the death of Godfrey III, Henry I also became Duke of Lower Lotharingia. By that time the title had lost most of its territorial authority. According to protocol, all his successors were thereafter called Dukes of Brabant and Lower Lotharingia (often called Duke of Lothier).
After the Battle of Worringen in 1288, the dukes of Brabant also acquired the Duchy of Limburg and the lands of Overmaas (trans-Meuse). In 1354 Duke John III of Brabant granted a Joyous Entry (charter of liberty) to the citizens of Brabant.
In 1477 the Duchy of Brabant became part of the House of Habsburg as part of the dowry of Mary of Burgundy. At that time the Duchy extended from Luttre, south of Nivelles to 's Hertogenbosch, with Leuven as the capital city. The subsequent history of Brabant is part of the history of the Habsburg Seventeen Provinces.
The Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) brought the northern parts (essentially the present Dutch province of North Brabant) under military control of the northern insurgents. After the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the United Provinces' independence was confirmed and northern Brabant was formally ceded to the United Provinces as Staats-Brabant, a federally governed territory and part of the Dutch Republic.
The southern part remained in Spanish Habsburg hands as a part of the Southern Netherlands. It was transferred to the Austrian branch of the Habsburg monarchy in 1714. Brabant was included in the unrecognised United States of Belgium, which existed from January to December 1790 during short-lived revolt against Emperor Joseph II, until imperial troops regained the Austrian Netherlands for Leopold II who had succeeded his brother.
The area was overrun during the French Revolution in 1794, and formally annexed by France in 1795. The duchy of Brabant was dissolved and the territory was reorganised in the départements of Deux-Nèthes (present province of Antwerp) and Dyle (the later province of Brabant).
After the defeat of Bonaparte in 1815, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was created at the Congress of Vienna. The three old provinces were restored as North Brabant, Antwerp and South Brabant. The latter two became part of modern Belgium when it was created in 1830, South Brabant becoming simply Brabant province.
Brabant had fortified walled cities and unwalled cities. The unwalled cities did not have the right to construct walls. Trade was allowed in the walled areas and usually this right resulted in a larger population and the development of major villages and later cities. The unwalled cities had also the right to hold markets which they held on large market squares. This distinguishes them from surrounding villages who were not allowed to hold markets and did not possess market squares. Being unwalled also meant that some of these places suffered heavily in war and during the Dutch Revolt.
Abraham Ortelius (; also Ortels, Orthellius, Wortels; 14 April 1527 – 28 June 1598) was a Brabantian cartographer and geographer, conventionally recognized as the creator of the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World). Ortelius is often considered one of the founders of the Netherlandish school of cartography and one of the most notable figures of the school in its golden age (approximately 1570s–1670s). The publication of his atlas in 1570 is often considered as the official beginning of the Golden Age of Netherlandish cartography. He is also believed to be the first person to imagine that the continents were joined before drifting to their present positions.The Google Doodle of May 20, 2018, recognised Ortelius's endeavours, particularly the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.Battle of Baesweiler
The Battle of Baesweiler (22 August 1371) was a conflict between the dukes of Brabant and Jülich.Capture of Geertruidenberg (1589)
The Capture of Geertruidenberg of 1589, also known as the English betrayal of Geertruidenberg, took place on April 10, 1589, at Geertruidenberg, Duchy of Brabant, Flanders (present-day the Netherlands), during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604).On April 10, 1589, the garrison of Geertruidenberg, composed of a large number of English and some Dutch troops commanded by Governor Sir John Wingfield, surrendered the city to the Army of Flanders led by Don Alexander Farnese, Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands (Spanish: Alejandro Farnesio). A few days before, when pay did not arrive on time, the English soldiers mutinied, and was rumored that Wingfield had intended to surrender (or "sold") the city to the Spaniards. The States-General and Prince Maurice of Nassau (Dutch: Maurits van Oranje) accused him of treason for its surrender, but Wingfield denied the charges against him. The fact was that Geertruidenberg was in Spanish hands.
The same year, in September, Parma sent a force under Count Peter Ernst of Mansfeld to besiege Rheinberg. The garrison capitulated to the Spaniards in February 1590.Geertruidenberg was recaptured in June 1593 by an Anglo-Dutch force under the command of Maurice of Nassau and Francis Vere respectively.Chancellor of Brabant
The Chancellor of Brabant was the head of the civilian government of the late medieval and early-modern Duchy of Brabant as president of the Council of Brabant.Charter of Kortenberg
On September 27, 1312, the Duke of Brabant signed the Charter of Kortenberg that should better be referred to as a constitution. It was valid for the entire duchy of Brabant. From this charter originated a kind of "Parliament of Kortenberg" or a "Council of Kortenberg" or what was called an assembly of "The Lords of Kortenberg". With this Charter the Duchy of Brabant was the first state in the Low Countries or perhaps even the first state of Europe to give the estates the right for participation. Actually one of the first democratic decisions in feudal Europe.
The control organ, a precursor of the later "Estate assembly" (namely, the first estate was the clergy, the second estate was the nobility, and the third estate was the municipalities) gathered in the Abbey of Kortenberg and elsewhere with ups and downs until 1375.
From 1332 on the council was extended by two more members, so that there were 16 Lords; Antwerp got a second member and the Walloon Brabant town of Nivelles (Dutch: Nijvel) also got a member. In 1340 documents were sealed with a special seal on which a tree was planted on a little hill (the "short" or "sharp"?). The seal bore the words "SIGILUM COMMUNE : CONSILII DE CORTENBERGHE" (the common or usual seal of the Council of Kortenberg).Council of Brabant
The Council of Brabant was the highest law court in the historic Duchy of Brabant. It was presided over by the Chancellor of Brabant. One of its functions was to determine that new legislation was not contrary to the rights and liberties established in the Joyous Entry.
The Belgian Federal Parliament now sits in the building that was designed in the late 18th century by Gilles-Barnabé Guimard as the Palace of the Council of Brabant.Duke of Brabant
The Duke of Brabant (Dutch: Hertog van Brabant, French: Duc de Brabant) was formally the ruler of the Duchy of Brabant since 1183/1184. The title was created by the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in favor of Henry I of the House of Reginar, son of Godfrey III of Leuven (who was Duke of Lower Lotharingia at that time). The Duchy of Brabant was a feudal elevation of the since 1085/1086 existing title of Landgrave of Brabant. This was an Imperial fief which was assigned to Count Henry III of Leuven shortly after the death of the preceding Count of Brabant, Count Palatine Herman II of Lotharingia (born 20 September 1085). Although the corresponding county was quite small (limited to the territory between the rivers Senne and Dender) its name was applied to the entire country under control of the Dukes from the 13th century on. In 1190, after the death of Godfrey III, Henry I also became Duke of Lotharingia. Formerly Lower Lotharingia, this title was now practically without territorial authority, but was borne by the later Dukes of Brabant as an honorific title.
In 1288, the Dukes of Brabant became also Duke of Limburg. The title fell to the Dukes of Burgundy in 1430. Later on, it followed with the Burgundian inheritance until the French Revolution, although the northern part of the territory of Brabant was actually governed by the United Provinces during the 17th and 18th century (see Generality Lands).Dukes of Brabant family tree
This is a family tree of the Dukes of Brabant from 1139 up to 1430. Godfrey I, count of Leuven, became Duke of Lower Lotharingia in 1106. Henry I became the first Duke of Brabant in 1183/1184.
Duchy of Brabant
List of family treesDyle (department)
Dyle [dil] was a department of the First French Empire in present-day Belgium. It was named after the river Dyle (Dijle), which flows through the department. Its territory corresponded more or less with that of the Belgian province of Brabant, now divided into Walloon Brabant, Flemish Brabant and the Brussels-Capital Region. Its capital was Brussels.
The department came into existence on 1 October 1795, after the Southern Netherlands were occupied by the French. The department of Dyle was formed from the southern part of the Duchy of Brabant, part of the County of Hainaut, (Halle) and some smaller territories. See the 130 departments of the Napoleonic Empire.
The department was subdivided into the following arrondissements and cantons (situation in 1812):
Brussels, cantons: Anderlecht, Asse, Brussels (4 cantons), Halle, La Hulpe, Sint-Martens-Lennik, Sint-Stevens-Woluwe, Uccle, Vilvoorde and Wolvertem.
Leuven, cantons: Aarschot, Diest, Glabbeek, Grez, Haacht, Leuven (2 cantons), Tienen (2 cantons) and Zoutleeuw.
Nivelles, cantons: Genappe, Herne, Jodoigne, Nivelles (2 cantons), Perwez and Wavre.Its population in 1812 was 431,969, and its area was 342,848 hectares.After the defeat of Napoleon the department became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, as the province of (South) Brabant.House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (; German: Haus Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha) is a German dynasty that ruled the duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which was one of the Ernestine duchies. It is a cadet branch of the Saxon House of Wettin.
Founded by Ernest Anton, the sixth duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, it has been the royal house of several European monarchies. Agnatic branches currently reign in Belgium through the descendants of Leopold I and in the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms through the descendants of Prince Albert. Due to anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during World War I, George V changed the name of his branch from "Saxe-Coburg and Gotha" to "Windsor" in 1917. The same happened in 1920 in Belgium, where the name was changed to "de Belgique" (French) or "van België" (Dutch) or "von Belgien" (German), meaning "of Belgium".Joanna, Duchess of Brabant
Joanna, Duchess of Brabant (24 June 1322 – 1 November 1406), also known as Jeanne, was a ruling Duchess of Brabant from 1355 until her death. She was the heiress of Duke John III, and Marie d'Évreux.John II, Duke of Brabant
John II van Brabant (September 27, 1275 – October 27, 1312, Tervuren), also called John the Peaceful, was Duke of Brabant, Lothier and Limburg (1294–1312). He was the son of John I of Brabant and Margaretha of Flanders, daughter of Guy of Dampierre.
John II succeeded his father in 1294 During the reign of John II, Brabant continued supporting a coalition to stop French expansion. He tried to conquer South Holland (district of medieval Holland) from the pro-French count John II of Holland, but was not successful.
In 1309, the Crusade of the Poor besieged the castle of Genappe in Brabant because it was sheltering Jews. John sent an army that defeated the crusaders, who incurred heavy losses.John, who suffered from kidney stones and wanted his duchy to be peacefully handed over to his son upon his death, in 1312 signed the famous Charter of Kortenberg. After his death in 1312 John II was buried in the St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral in Brussels.John III, Duke of Brabant
John III (Dutch: Jan; 1300 – 5 December 1355) was Duke of Brabant, Lothier, and Limburg (1312–1355). He was the son of John II, Duke of Brabant, and Margaret of England.Joyous Entry
A Joyous Entry (Blijde Intrede, Blijde Inkomst, or Blijde Intocht in Dutch, Joyeuse Entrée in French) is the official name used for the ceremonial royal entry — the first official peaceable visit of a reigning monarch, prince, duke or governor into a city — mainly in the Duchy of Brabant or the County of Flanders and occasionally in France, Luxembourg or Hungary, usually coinciding with recognition by the monarch of the rights or privileges to the city, and sometimes accompanied by an extension of them.The most recent Joyous Entries took place in 2013 in honour of the Belgian king.Joyous Entry of 1356
The Joyous Entry of 1356 (Dutch: Blijde Intrede, French: Joyeuse Entrée) is the charter of liberties granted to the burghers of the Duchy of Brabant by the newly-ascended Duchess Joanna and her husband Duke Wenceslaus. The document is dated 3 January 1356, (NS) and it is seen as the equivalent of Magna Carta for the Low Countries.Landgraviate of Brabant
The Landgraviate of Brabant (1085–1183) was a small medieval fiefdom west of Brussels, consisting of the area between the Dender and Zenne rivers in the Low Countries, then part of the Holy Roman Empire.
Before 1085 the land had belonged to Hermann II, Count Palatine of Lotharingia. Upon his death, Emperor Henry IV assigned it to Henry III, Count of Louvain and Brussels, granting him the Landgrave of Brabant. This is the earliest known use of the term Landgrave.
In 1183 the landgraviate of Brabant and the counties of Louvain and Brussels were formally merged and elevated together into the Duchy of Brabant, by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa; Henry I became the first Duke of Brabant.
The area made up part of South Brabant from 1815 to 1830 as part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, and part of the Belgian Province of Brabant from 1830 to 1996. It is currently in the western part of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region of Belgium.Margaret of Brabant
Margaret of Brabant (4 October 1276 – 14 December 1311), was the daughter of John I, Duke of Brabant and Margaret of Flanders. She was the wife of Count Henry of Luxemburg and after his election as King of Germany in 1308, she became Queen of Germany.Seventeen Provinces
The Seventeen Provinces were the Imperial states of the Habsburg Netherlands in the 16th century. They roughly covered the Low Countries, i.e. what is now the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and most of the French departments of Nord (French Flanders and French Hainaut) and Pas-de-Calais (Artois). Also within this area were semi-independent fiefdoms, mainly ecclesiastical ones, such as Liège, Cambrai and Stavelot-Malmedy.
The Seventeen Provinces arose from the Burgundian Netherlands, a number of fiefs held by the House of Valois-Burgundy and inherited by the Habsburg dynasty in 1482, from 1556 held by Habsburg Spain. Starting in 1512 the Provinces formed the major part of the Burgundian Circle. In 1581 the Seven United Provinces seceded to form the Dutch Republic.States of Brabant
The States of Brabant were the representation of the three estates (nobility, clergy and commons) to the court of the Duke of Brabant. The three estates were also called the States. Supported by the economic strength of the cities Antwerp, Brussels and Leuven, the States always were an important power before the rulers of the country, as was reflected by the charter of the duchy.
After the duchy of Brabant and all Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands came under the rule of the dukes of Burgundy, the States of Brabant became the host of the States-General of the Netherlands, who used to assemble in Brussels.
In 1579 and 1580, during the Eighty Years' War, most cities and States of Brabant joined Dutch independence declaration (Union of Utrecht and Act of Abjuration), but Spanish troops reconquered most of the territory of the duchy and restored Spanish Catholic rule (except for North Brabant. See also Siege of Antwerp (1584-1585)).
By the end of 1789, the States of Brabant again declared independence, this time from Austrian imperial rule, and, on January 11, 1790, they joined the United States of Belgium. All Southern Netherlands "States" disappeared four years later because of the French revolutionary occupation.
|History of the Low Countries|
Gallia Belgica (55 BC – 5th c. AD)
Germania Inferior (83 – 5th c.)
|Frankish Kingdom (481–843)—Carolingian Empire (800–843)|
|Middle Francia (843–855)||West
|Kingdom of Lotharingia (855– 959)
Duchy of Lower Lorraine (959–)
Burgundian Netherlands (1384–1482)
Habsburg Netherlands (1482–1795)
(Seventeen Provinces after 1543)
United States of Belgium
Batavian Republic (1795–1806)
Kingdom of Holland (1806–1810)
associated with French First Republic (1795–1804)
part of First French Empire (1804–1815)
Princip. of the Netherlands (1813–1815)
|United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815–1830)|
Gr D. L.
Kingdom of the Netherlands (1839–)
Kingdom of Belgium (1830–)
|Gr D. of|
Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands