Frans Anneessens (Brussels, 1660 – Brussels, 19 September 1719) was a leader of a Brussels guild. He was decapitated on the Grand Place in Brussels, because of his involvement with uprisings within the Austrian Netherlands.
The end of the War of the Spanish Succession saw the Spanish Netherlands be awarded to Austria. In 1716 the Austrians raised new taxes on the Flemish and Brabantian cities to fund the Dutch occupational forces installed by the Barrier Treaty and questioned their old medieval privileges. In 1717 these issues caused riots in Ghent, Antwerp, Mechelen and Brussels. The Italian Marquess de Prié, deputy for the absent governor-general, Prince Eugene of Savoy, suppressed the riots with brute force.
To suppress further rioting and restore order de Prié ordered the arrest of those he saw to be the ringleaders. Frans Anneessens was seen as the most important of these ringleaders and was lured to a business conference with an Austrian colonel to discuss victuals for his regiment. There Anneessens was arrested. Anneessens and four other leaders were kept in confinement for six months. During this period they were denied contact with their family and denied catholic services. On 12 September 1719 Anneessens was condemned to death, the four other guild leaders to perpetual banishment.
19 September 1719 was the day set for Anneessens' execution. As the Austrians feared troubles they had forced the priests to remove the ropes of the church bells and all major streets and squares were occupied by Austrian soldiery. At 8 o'clock Frans Anneessens was brought from prison, and placed on a cart while bound by his hands and feet. After the reading of the sentence, Anneessens refused to sign it, claiming to be innocent in the eyes of God. He was then brought to the scaffold on the Grand Place where his wig was removed. When Anneesens tried to address the crowd, his words were drowned by drum roffles. The executioner then decapitated the old man with a sword.
Anneessens is commemorated in Brussels with a statue, a street and a square named after him. Anneessens premetro station takes its name from the square.
- M. Huisman, “Prié, Hercule-Joseph Turinetti, marquis de”, Biographie Nationale, XVIII (1905), pp. 231–243.
- A.H. WERTHEIM-GIJSE WEENINK, Een kwarteeuw burgerverzet in de beide Nederlanden (1698-1719) Voorspel van de 'democratische revoluties' (Dutch)