Charles III de Croÿ

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Charles III de Croÿ (Beaumont, Hainaut, July 1, 1560 – Beaumont, January 12, 1612) was Seigneur de Croÿ, 4th Duke of Aarschot, 5th Prince of Chimay and 5th Count of Beaumont.

He was the eldest son of Philippe III de Croÿ, Duke of Aarschot, and Jeanne of Halewijn.

His military career began in 1577 as lieutenant of his father's regiment of Walloon infantry. He married Marie of Brimeu, widow of Lancelot of Berlaymont, on September 3, 1580. She came from a rich Calvinist family in Picardy and was ten years older than her young husband. Her influence over Charles was so great that he abandoned his Catholic faith and his loyalty to the King of Spain. In 1583 he became stadtholder of Flanders for the Protestant insurgents. He was not able to stop the advance of Alexander Farnese and decided to reconcile with Spain in March, 1584.

In 1584 he divorced Marie of Brimeu and in 1585 he returned to the Catholic faith and loyalty to the Spanish Crown. Later that year, he handed over Bruges to the Spanish and in 1585 he did the same with Ghent. Over the next few years he fought alongside Farnese and was present at the Sieges of Grave, Venlo, Neuss and Sluis. His most important victory was the taking of Bonn on September 13, 1588. In 1590 he joined the Spanish troops that supported the Catholic League in the French Wars of Religion.

Finally, in 1599 he was rewarded with the Order of the Golden Fleece.

In December 1605 he married his cousin Dorothea of Croÿ, daughter of Charles Philippe de Cröy, Marquis d’Havré (1549–1613). Both his marriages remained childless.

After his death in 1612, all his titles and possessions went to his sister Anne of Croÿ and his brother-in-law Charles de Ligne, 2nd Prince of Arenberg.

Charles was an important art collector and is famous for his Albums, a collection of detailed illustrated maps of all his domains.