Albert of Austria


Albert of Austria
(1559-1621) and Isabella (1566-1633).
   Born in Neustadt, Germany, on 15 November 1559, Albert was entrusted with the government of the southern Netherlands by King Philip II of Spain in 1595. The grandson of Emperor Charles V through his mother Mary of Austria, it was Albert's ancestry that endeared him to the welfare of his subjects and the sentiment was reciprocated. He entered Brussels in February 1596. On 6 May 1598, Philip III renounced his ruling rights over the Netherlands in favor of his daughter Isabella. Her marriage to Albert made them corulers of the provinces. Together they made their Joyeuse Entrée as archduke and archduchess on 5 September 1599.
   The Twelve Years' Truce (1609-1621) between Spain and the Netherlands permitted much regeneration, both moral and material. Brussels prospered and saw during their reign the arrival of many religious orders, welcomed by the sovereigns as ardent upholders of the Counter-Reformation. Numerous churches were restored and enlarged. Plagued by gout, Albert died on 15 July 1621, much mourned by the populace as a ruler who supported considerable self-government.
   Isabella was born in Segovia, Spain, on 12 August 1566, the daughter of Philip III and Elizabeth of France. Intensely devout, she devoted herself during Albert's life to pious works and charitable pilgrimages in the Brussels area. Seeking religious life after her husband's death, Isabella was compelled by her brother King Philip IV to retain sovereignty. A patron of the arts, which flourished at her court, she confronted major economic troubles. To pay creditors, she pawned jewelry, and she had transported to Brussels the image of the Virgin of Laeken, whose help she implored. Isabella died in Brussels on 2 December 1633. The couple was childless and the southern Netherlands reverted to rule by Spanish governors. Albert and Isabella are interred in the Cathédrale des Saints-Michel-et-Gudule.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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