Early Modern Living Comfort. Charles of Croÿ (1560-1612) and the Description of his Residence in Heverlee

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Situated south of Leuven, within a one-day travel distance from Brussels, the castle of Heverlee was one of the main residences of the Croÿ dynasty. It was Anton of Croÿ who purchased the seignory with accompanying hereditary title of sénéchal of Brabant in 1446. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, William of Croÿ and his wife Mary of Hamal built a new residence on the site, supplementing the existing uncomfortable living tower with a fully-fledged L-shaped residence. Three generations later it became one of the favourite residences of Charles III of Croÿ (1560-1612), duke of Aarschot and Croÿ, count of Beaumont and prince of the Holy Roman Empire. As one of the highest noblemen in the Low Countries Charles was considered a patron of the arts and architecture, as well as a military commander. During his lifetime he developed an obsession with the recording of his heritage for his posterity, even though he died without children. Part of this obsession were the so-called besoignés and specifications, describing the domain of Heverlee to an amazing level of detail. This extraordinary source covers everything in the castle – even the collection of linen at the disposal of the duke – as well as the entire surrounding domain with gardens, orchards and a private hunting forest. The content of this description hints at an amazing level of technology, with – for example – fountains spraying water to seven or eight feethigh. In this paper, we will explore how these descriptions, in combination with iconographic sources of the castle and its surroundings, give insight into the level of comfort concerning food, personal hygiene and technological advances.
Periode5 jun. 2021
BegivenhedstitelSixth International Conference of the European Architectural History Network Conference (EAHN)
PlaceringEdinburgh, Storbritannien
Grad af anerkendelseInternational