|WikiProject Architecture||(Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)|
The first castrum
I'm posting this here rather than in the main meme because it is original research. The work was done in collaboration with Gery de Pierpont, the first Curator of the Coudenberg.
The origins of Brussels are known to lie around two geographic poles, a crossing of the River Senne at the closest bridgeable point to the sea and a stronghold (known technically as a castrum) on the plateau overlooking it.
The line of the first ring of town walls clearly extended from an earlier bailey (roughly the area occupied by the modern Palace, of which the Coudenburg forms the eastern side) to include its burg, stretching downhill to the river. However, the strong point around which that bailey was built has never been found, because of a geographical mistake by the City Archaeological section.
Those first walls were strengthened by a standard design of fairly large D-shaped towers, some of which survive and demonstrate a standard layout. However, another tower has often been mistaken for one of them, because it is quite close to where one stood: it survives, quite remarkably, buried in the revetment wall of the Flemish Regional Government's Errara Reception Centre, accessible from the patio of the Bozar centre below it. A second storey is reputedly accessible from the technical areas lower still. It is described more fully by the City Archivist Guillaume Desmarez in his study of Rue Isabelle, as part of the de Montfort town house, which stood in the angle between Rue Isabelle and the original road running down from the plateau, originally named Inghelandt ("To the Country") and later, Rue Terarken - of which a mere ten meters survives at the foot of the Ravenstein. It was dismissed by Desmarez as a construction dating from 1625, but as the main meme correctly points out, Rue Isabelle was an upgrade of a service track running inside the walls leading to the butts of the Palace Guard's firing range. The house is shown on the Braun and Hogenstat map of 1568, so we may surmise it is older.
The exact cross-section of Rue Isabelle at this point is worth describing in detail. Descending from the square beyond the Aula Magna, which survives as the far end of the modern Place Royale, alongside the very wall of the Aula Magna, it continues in very much the same direction almost as far as the Cathedral, where is turned left for about 50 meters, joining the Rue des 12 Apôtres, the 12 Apostles Street. It was built in 1625 to allow the Crown Duchess Isabelle to reach the Cathedral safely, during the Wars of Religion, and was lined with small cottages housing the Palace Guard. On the east side, the cottages backed immediately onto the first town wall, on the west, the firing range, and it is for this reason Demarez supposed the corner house, far larger, dated from the same time. It is the only time I have ever discovered him to be wrong.
A close examination of the Google satellite imagery shows the line of Rue Isabelle preserved in the roofline of the much later Bozart complex, I suppose because in common with other buildings in the area, the previous layout of land plots constrained the construction. The position of the Aula Magna can also be plotted, and therefore the position of the original wall, somewhere under the modern Rue Royale some 10 meters to the east. Consequently, that tower lies within the walls, as described by Desmarez, and that poses a problem, as it has arrow loops facing directly at the inside of the wall a mere ten meters in front (and indeed less, if you follow his argument, as the other side of the road was meters away)!
Equally, other loops face north and south, straight into the rest of the building Desmarez describes! It is clearly far older than either the building or, indeed, the wall. The clincher is the line of the bailey wall: if you extend it down, it comes to the tower. We evidently have a tower which is part of the original keep: whether it is indeed the castrum itself is another question.
The house is first described in detail in the Wijksboek, the Parish Register of 1655, when it was auctioned by the de Montfort family. There is no detail of when they acquired it, and the family itself has an ancient connection with the Duchy: a number of marriages between Brabant and de Montfort were annulled through consaguinity, the reason only recently (2006) having been discovered in the Landen genealogies, the founder of the line, Guillaume de Hainaut, having been the second son of Judith of Cambrai, in the tenth century. The identity of her husband is not known.
de Montfort is a toponym, but not one relating to their Paris holding, as the family already bore the name when they were still in Evreux, long before that castle was built. On the other hand, Coudenberg is also the toponym of the Cluytinckx family, the farmers who originally owned the land in the area (from Evere to Watermael to Forest and as far as the Senne), long before the City grew and the Duchy moved in. The farm pond survives in the Palace grounds. As the town grew, so did the importance of the family, and it spawned a number of cadet lines identifiable by punning variants on the name. With no other recognisable known, is Montfort Mons Fortis - or Cold Hill, Coudenberg? And if so, we know the Cluytinckx were Ducal lieutenants from the start, and so presumably the castellans before the Dukedom was created. If so, was that de Montfort tower the earliest? From its small size and round shape, it may very well be 11th Century: and so the long-sought castrum. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 126.96.36.199 (talk) 20:38, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
You may want to make an ajustment to the wording concerning Breughel, as the family were resident on Rue Haute from at least the 1560s - Jan was a local. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.8.131.52 (talk) 21:05, 18 March 2013 (UTC)