Renesse Castle

Renesse Castle

Belgian Castles

Renesse Castle

Renesse Castle, locally known as Kasteel de Renesse or Kasteel Oostmalle, lies in the village of Oostmalle, in the province of Antwerp in the Flemish region in Belgium.

The first castle at this site was probably built between 1431 and 1464 by Willem van Berchem. How this castle looked is unknown.

In 1501 the castle came into the possesion of Frederik van Renesse, through his marriage with Anna van Hamal, who was the heiress of Elisabeth van Berchem. After Frederik died in 1538 the castle went to his son, Jan van Renesse. He, however, saw his castle burned down, together with the village, by the troops of Maarten van Rossum, in 1542, during the revolt of William, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, against Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor.

Between 1545 and 1548 Jan van Renesse then built a completely new moated mansion directly south of the earlier one. On the foundations of the earlier castle he built a bailey which incorporated the present flat-topped round tower as the only remnant of the earlier medieval castle.

In the years after completion of the new Renesse Castle it was visited by the Emperor Charles V, the Governor of the Netherlands Margaret of Parma, Lamoral the Count of Egmont and William of Orange, amongst others.

In 1561 Renesse Castle went to Frederik, the 4th son of Jan van Renesse. In 1583 it was confiscated by the Spanish general Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba, who then garrisoned Spanish soldiers in the castle. It was later returned to Frederik.

In 1603 the castle was plundered by soldiers from the Hoogstraten garrison. In 1630 the last inhabitant of Renesse Castle, Willem, son of Frederik, died. After that the Renesse family left to reside at one of their other castles.

During the next 170 years the castle dilapidated due to standing empty or being used to garrison soldiers. Finally the moated mansion was demolished in 1800.

In 1830 Viscount Léonard du Bus de Gisignies bought Renesse Castle from Count Clement-Wenceslas de Renesse-Breidbach and had it rebuilt in Empire style.

During World War I the castle was occupied by the German army. In 1920 the castle was rebuilt in Flemish Renaissance Revival style by Count Maximillian de Renesse-Breidbach. He gave the castle its present appearance.

During World War II the castle was again occupied by the German army and part of the left wing was destroyed by a bomb in 1941. In 1944 the castle served as a field hospital for wounded American and English soldiers.

In the 1980’s Renesse Castle was acquired by the local council and restored.

At present the domain of Renesse Castle can freely be visited. The castle itself is used for cultural purposes. A nice castle.

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