|Grote Raad / Grand Conseil / Grosse Rat|
The Schepenhuis in Mechelen, seat of the Great Council 1473–1477 and 1504–1609
From the 15th century onwards, the Great Council of the Netherlands at Mechelen (Dutch: De Grote Raad der Nederlanden te Mechelen; French: le grand conseil des Pays-Bas à Malines; German: der Grosse Rat der Niederlände zu Mecheln) was the highest court in the Burgundian Netherlands. It was responsible for the Dutch-, French- and German-speaking areas. In Luxembourgish the phrase "mir ginn op Mechelen" (we'll go to Mechelen) still means playing one's last trump card. The Grote Raad first sat in the Schepenhuis in Mechelen then, from 1616, in the (old) palace of Margaretha of Austria on Keizerstraat.
The medieval rulers were assisted by advisers. Together with the ruler they formed the Council of State, also called the consilium or curia. Gradually the council became more specialised, with separate financial, judicial and political council emerging.
In the Burgundian Netherlands, the councils initially travelled with the Duke. In 1473 Duke Charles the Bold decided to establish the council in a specific location, in Mechelen. The council took on the name of the Parliament of Mechelen. After Charles' death in 1477, this parliament was abolished by Charles' daughter Mary of Burgundy on the occasion of the issuing of the Great Privilege. This was the result of the constant struggle between the centralisation of the rulers and the particularism of the states. The French king was also against a parliament in Mechelen, as it would become a rival of the Parliament of Paris. Nonetheless, under Philip the Fair, the Great Council was again established in Mechelen in 1504, this time permanently, but without the addition of parliament to its name.
In the 16th century the territorial powers of the Great council grew. Through the establishment of authority by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor over Tournai, Utrecht, Friesland, Overijssel and Guelders, the council's territory now included all of the Seventeen Provinces.
In 1526 the construction of a new Seat for the Great Council started by the architect and Master Mason Rombout II Keldermans. This Brabantine Gothic project was abandoned in 1547 —with little more than the ground floor built.The council was losing power and influence. After the Eighty Years' War, the Dutch Republic became independent. In the Northern Netherlands, the judicial power was taken over by the provincial council and the Supreme court of Holland, Zeeland and West-Friesland (1582). The Great Council of Mechelen remained active in the remaining Southern Netherlands, of which France annexed the southern province of Artois and parts of Flanders, Hainaut and Luxembourg. A number of provincial councils declared themselves independent from the Great Council: in the beginning of the 16th century the councils of Brabant and Hainaut did this, and in the late 18th century (1782) the judicial councils of Luxembourg and Tournai as well. This left the Great Council only Flanders, Mechelen, Namur and Upper Guelders.
The Great Council was abolished during the French Revolution. During the first French invasion in 1792, the Council moved to Roermond, where it watched over the last unoccupied lands, the twelve remaining municipalities of Austrian Guelders. During the second French invasion in 1794, part of the council members moved to Regensburg and Augsburg, in imperial territory; another part chose for the new regime and became part of the new judicial organisation.
The composition of the Great Council was noticeably stable throughout the centuries. It had one chairman or president, 15 to 16 councillors, one procureur-general, one replacement procureur-general, one fiscal advocate, 10 paid secretaries, two or three clerks, advocates and lastly Huissier de justice. Of the councillors, who wore red vestments, traditionally four were clerical, later lessened to two. All councillors were appointed by the ruler from a list of candidates of the Council itself. They had to be licentiate or doctor in law at one of the universities in the ruler's lands.
The following people were council members:
The president was appointed for life by the monarch. [ clarification needed ]Normally noble lords were chosen, they had the right to change their coats of arms with heraldic maces.
The President was the direct contact between the Council and the Emperor, he had great influence and played often a major part in local history or even beyond. Many Presidents had a great international network that allowed them to enlarge their social status.
|1.||1503||1521||Joannes Peeters, Lord of Catz|
|4.||1532||1556||Lambert de Briarde, Lord of Liezele|
|5.||1556||1562||Nicolas II Everaerts|
|6.||1562||1584||Jean de Glymes, Lord of Waterdijk|
|7.||1584||1595||Jan van der Burch|
|8.||1598||1604||Igram van Achelen|
|9.||1605||1622||Jacques Libaert, Lord of Sommaing|
|10.||1622||1628||Ranunce of France, Lord of Noyelles|
|12.||1637||1651||Henri de Vicq, Lord of Meuleveldt|
|14.||1661||1669||Adrien of France, Lord of Noyelles|
|15.||1669||1686||Jean-Antoine Locquet, 1st Viscount of Hombeke|
|16.||1686||1690||Andre del Marmol|
|17.||1690||1690||Guillaume-Philippe, Marquess of Herzelles|
|18.||1690||1699||Guillaume-Albert de Grysperre, Baron of Goyck|
|19.||1699||1707||Hyacinthe-Marie de Brouchoven|
|20.||1707||1714||Jacques Jean Baptiste Stalins, Lord of Poppenrode|
|21.||1716||1725||Christophe-Ernest, 1st Count of Baillet|
|20.||1726||1738||Pierre-Primitive van Volden|
|21.||1739||1756||Eugène Joseph d'Olmen, Baron de Poederlé|
|22.||1756||1773||Guillaume-Ignace Pycke, Lord of Ideghem|
|23.||1773||1794||Goswin de Fierlant|
Impressive buildings built by the councillors include:
The competence of the Great Council strongly fluctuated from period to period and from province to province. In the small lordship of Mechelen, it controlled practically all legislative and executive power. It was also the court, for both initial charges and appeals for persons and institutions that fell under royal protection. Members of the court, knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece, and everyone who was privileged through title or function could only be judged before the Great Council. For the rest the Council functioned as a court of appeal and a court of cassation over all sentences made by provincial justice councils and other, lower, courts in the Seventeen Provinces (or what remained of it later on). The Great Council also treated issues of privileges, mandates, letters of commendation, letters of marque, donations of functions and goods, gifts and other taxes, confiscation of property, jurisdiction conflicts between separate government institutions, and also border conflicts. Appeals against judicial rulings were also handled, but generally only against serious cases. On the other hand, family rights and inheritance usually fell under the jurisdiction of the church courts.
Archives of the Great Council of Mechelen can be found in the National and Provincial State Archives in Brussels and the Archives Départementales du Nord in Lille. Because it held jurisdiction over large areas and widely ranging subjects during its three centuries of existence, the Great Council takes an important place in the Legal history of the Netherlands and Belgium.
A calendar of the memorials of the Great Council edited by Arthur Gaillard has been published in two volumes under the title Inventaire des mémoriaux du Grand Conseil de Malines (Brussels, P. Weissenbruch, 1900–1903).
Mechelen is a city and municipality in the province of Antwerp in the Flemish Region of Belgium. The municipality comprises the city of Mechelen proper, some quarters at its outskirts, the hamlets of Nekkerspoel (adjacent) and Battel, as well as the villages of Walem, Heffen, Leest, Hombeek, and Muizen. The Dyle flows through the city, hence it is often referred to as the Dijlestad.
St. James' Church is a former Collegiate church in Antwerp, Belgium. The church is built on the site of a hostel for pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. The present building is the work of the Waghemakere family and Rombout Keldermans, in Brabantine Gothic style. The church contains the grave of Peter Paul Rubens in the eastern chapel.
The House of Hornes was an important European noble family, which became extinct in the male line in 1826. The name refers to Horn, a small village in Limburg, located in the Netherlands.
Thomas Philip Wallrad de Hénin-Liétard d'Alsace named Cardinal d'Alsace, was a Cardinal- Archbishop of Mechelen, Belgium. He participated in 2 conclaves, during the conclave of 1758 he acted as Cardinal Proto-Priest.
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Vilain and Vilain XIIII is a Belgian noble family. Their coat of arms is basically "sable, au chef d'argent", a colour scheme that is present from the earliest Vilains in the 15th century, and is also seen in the Vilain XIIII arms, which have the "XIIII" added to it.
Guillaume de Steenhuys, Lord of Flers (1558–1638) was a noble magistrate and diplomat in the Spanish Netherlands.
De Lannoy is the name of a noble family that takes its name from the French town of Lannoy, Nord. The name comes from l'Annoy which means «the alderwood» in Picard French of Flanders.
The House of van der Noot is a Belgian Noble family.
The Rubens family is a Flemish noble family that lived in Antwerp.
Spoelberch is an old Belgian noble house, they are titled Viscount de Spoelberch. The family still exists today and are legally recognised as being part of the nobility of the kingdom.
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Charles Emmanuel Joseph, 1st Prince de Gavre, 4th Marquess of Ayseaux, Count of the Empire was the first Prince de Gavre, created by Emperor Charles VI in 1736. He was the son of Rasse II François of Gavre, 3rd Marquess of Ayseau, and Marie Catherine de Brias.
Jean Alphonse, 1st Count de Coloma, was a Flemish noble lord of Spanish descent. He was a member of the Great Council of Mechelen, of the supreme council in Vienna, and president of the Brussels Privy Council.
Philippe-Guillaume de Steenhuys, 1st baron of Poederlee and lord of Flers, Heerle, Gierle, Moerbeke, etc., was an office-holder in the Spanish Netherlands who served on the Great Council of Mechelen, the Council of Flanders, and the Brussels Privy Council.
Snoy or Snoy d'Oppuers currently Snoy et d'Oppuers, is a Belgian noble family. The current descendants are titled Barons Snoy and of Oppuers.
Henri IV de Vicq, Lord of Meuleveldt, was a Flemish Ambassador and became President of the Great Council of Mechelen
Simon de Fierlant, Lord of Bodegem, was a jurist and holder of high office in the Spanish Netherlands.