Fondation d'Arenberg

Leuven International Forum
Networking for Knowledge and Society

1.06.2012

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear professors, dear friends of History and Culture,

It is a great pleasure and a great privilege to be with you today at the occasion of the first «LEUVEN INTERNATIONAL FORUM : Networking for Knowledge and Society» together with the president of the Arenberg foundation, minister of state, former prime minister and professor Mark Eyskens.
In a few words, I shall try to summarize the old bonds existing since the beginning of the 17th century between the dukes of Arenberg, the city of Leuven, the duchy of Aarschot and above all the university of Leuven.
Thereafter, minister of state Mark Eyskens, is going to explain what the Arenberg foundation is trying to achieve in order to find out if synergies can be bundled together here to achieve common objectives.

If you drive to Leuven, coming from Brussels, you are going to see pannels like Arenberg Campus, Arenberg library, Arenberg research park, Arenberg castle and you are going to see a real castle in Oud-Heverlee, at the gates of  the city of Leuven.
If you ask about Arenberg at the university, you may be referred to the ‘centrale bibliotheek’, the university’s library, and to the team around prof. dr. Jan Roegiers, its former boss and Mel Collier its current boss.

If you become a little more curious and ask around, you may learn that there was a blind duke of Arenberg, Louis-Engelbert who promoted a scientist whose name was Minckeleers or another duke  Engelbert-Maria who gave money  to the university of Louvain in 1909 to build the institute of agronomy, then the Arenberg castle in 1916 and finally the important art collection in 1949 that is still on display today at the Arenberg castle in Heverlee.

If you want to know even more about this name, open the phone book or browse thru the web and you’ll find :

An Arenberg choir – in Dutch, the „ Arenbergkoor“ – created by Dieudonné Feys in the fifties and performing under various excellent conductors as E.H Thys, Jan van Bouwel, EKH Denis, Pieter Boon, Louis Weemaels, Joz Swinnen, Urbain van Asch, Frans Mariman and since 1986 Lou van Cleynenbreugel.
Today 65 members repeat each monday evening at the monastery of the Jesuit fathers in Heverlee. They sing religious and  secular songs and perform regularly, especially in spring, autumn and around Christmas.
Its honorary president is Jean-Paul De Clerck and its president Erik Kuijpers ; they are responsible for the well being of the association.

On July 28th, 1965, the choir performed ‘live’ at the occasion of the wedding of Laetitia de Belzunce d’Arenberg in the castle of Menetou-Salon, France.
In the eighties, the contacts between the choir and the dukes of Arenberg increased. The choir was present at the wedding of princess Marie-Gabrielle of Arenberg in Lausanne on January 28th, 1984, at the christening of prince Evrard-Guillaume in Enghien on April 8th, 1996 and above all at the royal chapel of Versailles on october 9th, 1997 when prince Pierre married countess Sylvia de Castellane.
On October 6th, 1992, the choir was present at the occasion of the funerals of duke Erik of Arenberg, XIth duke of Arenberg in the chapel of the Capuchin monks in Enghien.
On August 27th, 2011 the ‚Arenbergkoor‘ was in charge of the musical aspect of the funerals of duke Jean-Engelbert, XIIth duke of Arenberg in the church of Notre-Dame-du Sablon/Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-van-de Zavelkerk in Brussels.
Sinds 1992, the Arenberg choir helps occasionally when the prizes for History ‚duke of Arenberg‘ are awarded to the laureates every two years.
 There is another association, the association of the Arenberg hunting horn players, in Dutch the „Jachthoornkring van Arenberg“, founded in 1973 and based in Kessel-Lo. In 1983, they got the authorization of prince Jean-Engelbert of Arenberg to use the family coat of arms as well as the ducal family name. In 1986, prince Leopold accepted to become its honorary vice-president. Their goal is to keep alive the century old tradition of the hunting music, especially the hunting horn.
As the Arenberg choir, the Arenberg hunting horn players were involved in helping the Arenberg foundation when the prizes for History ‚dukes of Arenberg‘ were awarded, for instance in Heverlee in 1996.

If you „google“ further on the web, you may get another name on your screen, namely the name of ‚ Arenbergruiters‘ or ‚Arenberg horsemen‘.
This association is also based in Heverlee and has the support of the dukes of Arenberg.
And as I said before, you have four Arenberg university campuses around the former castle as well as one Arenberg institute, one Arenberg student community and one Arenberg library in the former Celestine convent.

There is also a club „hertog van Arenberg/ duke of Arenberg“ in Heverlee. This club is a business club where business people, entrepreneurs and dealers from Flemish speaking Brabant regularly meet at the ‚Arenberg restaurant‘.
Finally, there is the „Order of the Prince Arenberg Oranje“, an association regrouping high state employees and liberal professions and promoting the unity of Flemish language and culture.
 
As I will tell you later, Heverlee was one of four seigniories with Aarschot, Bierbeek en Rotselaar belonging to the old duchy of Aarschot, a feudal duchy that was not independent like the old duchy of Arenberg for instance but depended upon the duke of Brabant, here emperor Charles V.
The princes of Arenberg became dukes of Aarschot at the beginning of the 17th century, in 1612 to be precise.
As a consequence, the name Arenberg is also going to be found in many cities and villages of the former duchy of Aarschot.
In the city of Aarschot, a museum was opened in 1961. The idea of mr Jos Pelgrims, its promotor, was to attract tourism to his city. On October 24th, 1961 mr Willy Schroeven founded the ‘Aarschotse Kring voor Heemkunde’, an association whose purpose was to study the history, the traditions and the arts in the old duchy of Aarschot.
Prince Jean-Engelbert and his wife, princess Sophie of Bavaria, visited the museum as well as the church of The Holy Virgin (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) on April 10th, 1965.
At the occasion of the four hundred fortiest anniversary of the elevation of the city of Aarschot to the status of duchy in 1533, a big square became the ‚Hertogelijk Plein‘, in Dutch  the „ ducal square“ and a monument was inaugurated with the coats of arms of the families Harcourt, Croy and Arenberg.
Thirty years after its foundation, the „Aarschotse Kring voor Heemkunde“, an association I already mentionned before, got the authorization of duke Erik of Arenberg to call itself ‚Hertogelijk Aarschotse Kring voor Heemkunde‘, hertogelijk meaning ducal.
Their trimestrial magazine, ‚Het Oude Land van Aarschot‘ – the old country of Aarschot – got the authorisation to use the Arenberg coats of arms on its cover.
On May 23d, 1993, the 12th duke of Arenberg, his wife and two sons, princes Henri and Etienne, came to Aarschot. Duke Jean was welcomed by the maire of Aarschot, mr. Rik Daems who made him a honorary citizen of his city.

On November 24th, 1996 , at the occasion of the thirty fifth anniversary of the association « Hertogelijk Aarschotse Kring voor Heemkunde’, president Willy Schroeven welcomed prince Leopold in the castle van Elzenhof in Aarschot to attend the event.
And finally, let me tell you a few short stories involving my close family and its relationship with the University of Leuven.
Duke Erik, the eleventh duke, was born in the castle of Heverlee in 1901.
I was baptized by mgr Van Wayenbergh, dean of the university of Louvain many decades ago as well as my brothers and sister.
I studied at the university of Louvain two years, namely between 1976 and 1978, and used to bike quite often to Leuven from our home, Paterdupierreuxlaan n°44, in 1980 Tervueren.
By doing so, I got a first hand view of Flemish Brabant, its small villages, Vossem, Leefdael, Bertem and its „witloof culture“.
My father, duke Jean-Engelbert, became dr. honoris causa of your ‚Alma Mater‘ in 1994 upon the recommandation of his promotor, prof. dr. Jan Roegiers and got his diploma from dean professor baron Roger Dillemans.
Duke Jean, ‘doctor in Law and master of Arts’,  had written three books about « les Princes du St Empire de la Nation Germanique », « La candidature involontaire de Prosper-Louis d’Arenberg à la couronne de Belgique » and « Trois ducs, trois batailles » and had promoted ‘History and Culture’ during his whole life.

We owe him the existence of three Belgian family foundations, namely the ‘Studium Arenbergense asbl/vzw’ in 1970, the ‘Archives et Centre Culturel d’Arenberg/Archief- en Cultureel Centrum van Arenberg asbl/vzw’ in 1997 and finally the ‘Arenberg Foundation’ in 2010 as well as a German ‘Arenberg Stiftung,’ in 1981 in collaboration with the ‘Landeshauptarchiv Koblenz’ - the archives of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Dean baron Roger Dillemans served as president of the scientific committee of the « Archief- en Cultureel Centrum van Arenberg vzw » for many years.
Today, minister of state professor Mark Eyskens is president of the Arenberg foundation and president of the scientific committee of the Arenberg foundation.
Professor dr. Jan Roegiers is member of the scientific committee of the Arenberg foundation and member of the scientific committee of the Arenberg prizes for History.
The Arenberg foundation and the university of Leuven have cooperated in the past, organizing prize awards and exhibitions, among others the exhibition of 1996 dedicated to the blind duke, Louis-Engelbert.
Prof. dr. Jan Roegiers and his team of the „Centrale Bibliotheek“, the university library, namely Anne Verbruggen, Mark Derez and Marc Neelissen, wrote a very important book about „Arenberg in de Lage Landen, Holland en Vlaanderen“ in 2002, the first book about the dukes of Arenberg in Dutch, in collaboration with the ‚Vrije Universitaire Pers‘, Leuven where you still can buy the book.

De aanwezigheid van de hertogen van Arenberg in the hertogdom Aarschot hebben iets met de hertogen van Croy te doen.
En hier wil ik nog eens naar het uitstekende boek van professor Roegiers aangaande „Arenberg in de Lage Landen, Holland en Vlaanderen“ verwijzen. Het boek verscheen in 2002 en jullie kunnen het nog vandaag bij de Vrije Universiteit Pers, Leuven bestellen.     In verschillende artikels hebben de  professor Jean-Marie Duvosquel, de heren Johann Breugelmans,  Bart Minne,  Pieter Vlaardingerbroek, Luc Verpoest en mevrouw Krista de Jonge een uitstekende samenvatting van het Arenbergse verleden in Brabant gemaakt.
Op 12 januari 1612 stierf hertog Karl II van Croy. De laatste hertog van Croy was kinderloos.
Op dat ogenblik, gingen alle zijn bezittingen, waaronder ook het hertogdom Aarschot, over op zijn zuster Anna en haar man, Karel van Ligne, prins-graaf van Arenberg, die daarmee ook de titel van vijfde hertog van Aarschot verkreeg. Hierna bleef de omvangrijke, maar door de godsdienstoorlogen zwaar geteisterde Croy-erfenis tot het einde van het Ancien Regime in het bezit van het huis Arenberg.  
Maar de privé-bezittingen in het Brabantse land bleven in de handen van de hertogen van Arenberg tot het sekwester van 1921.

Ich hoffe, dass meine Ausführungen nicht zu ausgiebig waren aber ich wurde gebeten eine eingehende Beschreibung der Arenbergischen Vergangenheit hier in Leuven und Umgebung für ein auserlesenes Publikum zu erstellen. Die Arenberg Stiftung wünscht diesem internationalen Symposium viel Erfolg und erklärt sich bereit diese bemerkenswerten Bemühungen zu begleiten. In der Wissensgesellschaft müssen wir auf Ausbildung, Pionniergeist und Freiheit setzen. Die Freiheit ermöglicht die Entfaltung der Kreativität. In einem rohstoffarmen Land wie Belgien, in einem rohstoffarmen Kontinent wie Europa sind gute, unternehmerische, junge Menschen ein knappes und sehr kostbares Gut weil sie die Zukunft der europäischen Völker sind. Die Katholische Universität Leuven hat den Zeitgeist gut verstanden. In unserer heutigen Zeit, sind Kreativität und Originalität mit Sicherheit angebracht.
La Fondation d’Arenberg tente également d’oeuvrer à un rapprochement des sociétés civiles de l’Union Européenne et de la Fédération de Russie en organisant des symposiums ou des soirées russes favorisant les échanges. En effet, nous sommes complémentaires dans la mesure où la Russie possède tout ce que nous avons besoin et que nous pouvons fabriquer tout ce dont la Russie a besoin. Il serait très souhaitable de chercher à établir davantage de contacts avec le monde universitaire russe et la Fondation d’Arenberg pourrait œuvrer dans ce sens avec succès. [ En russe]

Je cède maintenant bien volontiers la parole au président de la fondation, le ministre d’Etat Mark Eyskens, qui vous parlera de l’avenir car la fondation d’Arenberg est résolument tournée vers l’avenir dans un esprit de convivialité et de partage d’un héritage prestigieux qui est mis à la disposition du plus grand nombre pour le bénéfice des jeunes générations et d’un avenir commun mûrement réfléchi.
Je vous remercie pour votre patience

Leuven, 1er juin 2012

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