A little bit of history (1)
The name of Tervuren derives from the name of a little river called Voer. It is an adjunct river of the Dijle. Ter-Vure means literary “at-the-Voer”.
Excavations revealed that already in pre-history this area was populated. The early habitants settled on the highest points where the river the Voer and the Maalbeek, another small river were merging into another. The Maalbeek got filled up with river mud and does not exist anymore.
Tervuren was a poor village and there was absolutely no wealth, yet many Dukes and royalties favoured this location as a main, temporary or 2nd “home”.
I only explored a small part of it, and I have missed to visit the village itself. But I know I will be back for more!
Tervuren is situated just in the middle of Brussels and Leuven, one-day trip away from each of them.
This used to be a real forest, called Sonia along a document found from the around 1000. Later the name changed into Zonien.
The reason that this forest survived all these centuries was because it became the property of the Dukes of Brabant. It was not yet 1200 when they bought it for hunting ground and, not in the least, for the profits. Wood was in those days very important for constructions and for heating. At the end of the 15th century it represented 25 % of the income of the Dukes!
A little bit of history (2)
In 1190 duke Henri I built a fortified castle at the spot where the rivers Voer and Maalbeek met. It was at a comfortable distance between Brussels and Leuven. As told in the previous tip, they used this location mostly for leisure and hunting. What was a small castle soon would grow into almost a real palace where also the administration was stored.
The reign of Charles the V was disastrous for the nearby Zonien forest, but under reign of Albrecht and Isabella (1598-1633) it could restore a bit again.
It was also Albrecht and Isabella who loved to stay at the castle and because it became to humid, they started to renovate it completely.
In 1713 the Southern Low Countries became property of the Austrian Habsburgers and Karel of Lotharingen was assigned governor. He too grew very fond of the location and the castle.
However when he died, his ancestor, Joseph II was so furious about the debts Karel left, not in the least about his last will in which he told he wanted his whole staff to receive a donation once a year, and they were over 300!, that he came to Tervuren and in his fury and anger, he demolised the castle, and everything that stood for “Karel of Lotharingen”. Only the building where the horses were kept escaped.
This picture shows the remainings of this one so glorious castle that was victim under the destructive hands of Joseph II of Austria. So he didn’t only plundered our churches “buying our valuable paintings” he also was very revengeous!!!
What he didn’t demolish and had value, he confiscated and took it with him to Vienna, or sold it to gain money.
A little bit of history (3)
When Albrecht and Isabella discovered their love for Tervuren and the castle, they had a little chapel been built just next to the castle.
It is the Saint Hubertus Chapel.
It is told that Saint Hubertus is buried here, at least his heart is.
It was common that when a very important person died his body was divided in a couple of parts and the heart usually went where the “home” was.
The chapel is built in a mixture of Renaissance and Barok by W. Coeberger.
It is told to be erected on the very spot where Saint Hubertus is deceased.
A little bit of history (4)
Lots of stories are told about Saint Hubertus. He was a noble man that became a hermit, then bishop and ended as a saint. Hubertus was born in Maastricht around 656. He was the eldest son of the Frankish noble man Bertrand, Duke of Aquitania (situated between Bordeaux and the Pyreneans) and in direct blood line he was an ancestor of the French King Clovis.
He married Floribanne, daughter and only heritage of Dagobert, Count of Leuven. His wife dies during delivering his son Floribertus. Hubertus gives up all his possessions and leaves Floribertus to the custody of his brother Eudon.
It is said that one day during hunting Hubertus saw a deer with a shiny cross. He saw this as a sign of God and a way of telling him he must alter and better his life.
He went to the cloisters of Maastricht and Stavelot.
He met Lambertus, bishop of Maastricht, became priest and then Lambertus’s assistance. He went on a pilgrimage to Rome in 708 a 709.
Lambertus asked him to promise him that if anything would happen to him, he would succeed him, as if Lambertus foresaw already he was going to be murdered.
When Hubertus was on his pilgrimage to Rome, this is exactly what happened.
Hubertus was now titled bishop of Maastricht. It is said that the killing was done by order of Pepijn who lived together with a concumbine and was excommunicated by Lambertus and Hubertus.
In 710 he founded the monastery in Andage in the Ardens, were he got reburied (body as the heart was buried at Tervuren). Andage was then renamed Saint Hubert.
It is told that during repairing works at a fisherman's ship he was hit on his hand with a hammer.
The injury cured badly and a severe inflammation caused his dead. He died at Tervuren on 30 May 727, being bishop of Liege. In 17th and 18th century the French introduced the Saint Hubertus celebration mass, accompanied with music for horns. This kind of mass spread all over Europe and you can witness it now on many places. Sometimes it is in the church, but lots of times it is outdoors.
People come and ask for the blessing of their animals.
Every year there is also this tradition at Tervuren. I am told that it is really worth to experience it.
The mass and celebration is held every second Sunday of October.
After the mass with horn music, people will gather together in front of the chapel and have their pets and animals blessed.
A little bit of history (5)
Karel Alexander van Lotharingen (Charles Alexander of Lotharingen) was nominated general-governor of the Austrian Low Countries and moved to Tervuren where he renovated the castle that a century before was the residence of Isabella and Albrecht.
He was a man who was interested in art, in innovation, science, new industry and women.
During his life he gathered together a huge collection of artefacts that you still can admire in his former residence in Brussels.
One of the constructions he builds was a horseshoe-shaped building. Here he kept several horses and tried out new breeds. Only one was successful, that was the huge pulling horses people used to work on their acres.
The building now is a kazerne.