Lavaux-Sainte-Anne Castle (Belgium)

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Lavaux-Sainte-Anne castle is located in Lavaux-Sainte-Anne (5580) in Belgium near Rochefort, in the province of Namur. In 1450, John II of Berlo ordered the construction of this castle. From century to century, the building was reinforced and renovated. Lavaux-Sainte-Anne did not occupy a very strategic position for long.
The origins
In Roman times, the Famenne was crossed by several secondary roads. One of them, coming from Givet and continuing towards Ave-et-Auffe, passed through Lavaux about a hundred meters north of the castle. It was bordered by villas like those which were discovered in Genimont or by fortresses like that of Eprave. The creation of the Principality of Liège will make the Lavaux region a border area with the neighboring Duchy of Luxembourg. This border is protected by fortresses like Agimont, Revogne, Lavaux and Rochefort. The lords of this period come from the “de Wellin” family. The first known mention of Lavaux dates from 1244; Jacques de Wellin called himself Lavaux during his lifetime.

The wars of the fifteenth century
In 1456, Louis de Bourbon, nephew of Duke Philippe of Burgundy, became prince-bishop of Liège. The animosity and mistrust of the towns of Liège against the Duke of Burgundy grew and armed bands roamed the country which was no longer safe.

Jean II de Berlo, who was Lord of Lavaux at that time and whose dedication to the prince was known, became suspect in the eyes of the people of Dinant who wanted to have control of the castle of Revogne, it in fact depended militarily on the châtellenie of Dinant and represented in this border region an important advance for the Mosan city. Clashes did not take long to occur. The Lord of Lavaux who had first accepted a treaty of neutrality with the Dinantais (1462) clearly sided with the prince against the revolted Liège towns and Duke Philippe sent him men at arms to defend Lavaux. At the beginning of 1463, the rupture was completed between Jean de Berlo and the city of Dinant. The Lord of Lavaux had all the food and ammunition transported from the castle of Revogne to his castle of Lavaux, equipped with the latest military improvements and better able to resist any attack.

During the summer of 1463, the castle of Lavaux had to support an assault from the Dinantais, the result of which we do not know. The magistrates of Dinant imposed fines and banishment on those who had helped in the defense of Lavaux. At the beginning of August 1464, a new Dinant expedition, more decisive it seems, against Lavaux. If the dungeon resisted, the rest was largely destroyed. This was the end of the resistance in Lavaux. Jean de Berlo left Lavaux to join the court of Louis de Bourbon. In Famenne, disorder and insecurity are growing: Érard de La Marck, enemy of the House of Burgundy, ravages the lands of Jean de Berlo with the men at arms of Liège. In August 1468, the Duke of Burgundy made himself master of Revogne and Dinant.

The peace imposed by his son, Charles the Bold, stipulated that none of the castles destroyed during the war on the territory of the principality could be rebuilt except those of the faithful supporters of the bishop, among others those of Jean de Berlo. Barely recovered from the terrible struggles with the House of Burgundy, the land of Liège was going to experience civil war. Guillaume de la Marck, supported by the King of France began, in 1482, a war in which Jean de Berlo was to be killed with his prince near the fountain of Basse-Wez. (Liège) At the end of the 15th century, the castle was no longer inhabited by its masters; only the old dowager of Berlo, a widow since 1482, ended her days in the dilapidated fortress. Refuge in his castle, Everard de Merode, Lord of Lavaux-Sainte-Anne, was besieged there in 1567 by the Duke of Alba.

In 1627, the seigneury of Lavaux was sold to Denis de Pottiers, governor of Bouillon, who quickly sold it.

The Rouveroit
On April 3, 1630, the castle was sold to the knight Jacques Renard de Rouveroit, a native of Herstal, infantry colonel of the Emperor. This young lord studied the art of war in the Rhineland at the military school for young nobles of the Counts of Nassau. In Prague, on June 16, 1637, Emperor Ferdinand III granted him the title of Baron of the Holy Empire. He married on an unknown date with his cousin, Marie Valérie de Locquenghien heir to the seigneury of Pamele in Audenaerde. By this marriage, the Rouveroit become lord of Pamele and beer of Flanders (the four lords who escort the count of Flanders).

Did the roofs of the towers of the Rhine castles inspire the new lord of Lavaux? On the site of the hamlet of Val Sainte Anne, Jacques Renard built the castle farm which still exists. Henri Joachim de Rouveroit, great-grandson of Jacques Renard, had the grand staircase of honor built. It is the height of refinement for the castle but also its swan song. Henri Joachim died in 1748. He had three daughters, the eldest of whom, Amour Désirée, married in Lavaux in 1753, the Prince de Gavre, governor of Namur who became the last Lord of Lavaux. The castle will no longer be inhabited by Father Berard who acts as bailiff. The domain of Lavaux-Sainte-Anne will be sold in 1810 by the son of Prince de Gavre to the Malacord-Fischbachs of Stavelot, who will probably never live there.

A famous man lived in the castle for a few years. This is Florimond Claude de Mercy Argenteau, born April 20, 1727, son of Thérèse Henriette de Rouveroit who died on May 13, 1729. After the death of his mother, his father entrusted him to his brother-in-law, Baron de Rouveroit. He left Lavaux at the age of 7 to study in Turin. He became Austrian Ambassador to Turin, Warsaw, Saint Petersburg and Versailles in 1766 where he negotiated with Louis XV the marriage of Marie-Antoinette Archduchess of Austria and the Dauphin, the future Louis XVI.

The twentieth century
Abandoned by its successive owners, the castle of Lavaux-Sainte-Anne was in ruins at the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1927, the then owner, Société immobilière Bernheim, bequeathed it to the non-profit organization Les Amis de la Commission royale des Monuments et des Sites 1, which planned some work before Raymond Pelgrims took matters into its own hands. From 1933 to 1939, the gigantic restoration was then carried out by Pelgrims - under the control of the Royal Commission on Monuments and Sites and of the architect Van der Hulst - thanks to the patronage of Baroness Lemonnier 2. Since 1933, the castle has belonged to to the “League of Friends of the Château de Lavaux-Sainte-Anne” which made it the hunting museum, transformed into a nature museum in 2005.

Images of the castle

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Useful infos

Latitude: 50.115868
Longitude: 5.092501
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Map of Lavaux-Sainte-Anne Castle