- Louis de Nevers, the count of Flanders, took refuge in Brussels from Flemish urban oligarchies in 1345. During the Spanish regime, the city hosted many prominent visitors, including the Prince de Condé, Marie de Medici, the duke of Vendôme, Charles IV of Lorraine, Emmanuel of Portugal, and the future kings Charles II and James II, sons of Charles I of England. Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-1689) spent eight months in Brussels following her abdication. She arrived on 23 December 1654 and the ceremony marking her conversion to Roman Catholicism took place the following day in the private rooms of the governor-general of the Spanish Netherlands, Archduke Leopold-Wilhelm, at the Coudenberg Palace, where she stayed for six weeks before moving to the Palais d'Egmont. Thomas Bruce, the earl of Aylesbury, lived in Brussels for 40 years (see GRAND SABLON, PLACE DU).Antoine Arnauld (1612-1694), the French theologian, spent the last 15 years of his life in Brussels. Jean-Baptiste Rousseau (1671-1741) fled France in 1712 for writing defamatory verses and lived in Brussels and Brabant for 30 years. Jean-Jacques Régis de Cambâcères (1753-1824), jurist, statesman, and archchancellor of the French Empire (1804), arrived in 1815. As a regicide, he was exiled after the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. The sculptor François Rude (1784-1855), maintained a studio in Brussels from 1815 to 1827. George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824), spent 10 days in spring 1816 in the city en route to Switzerland from England. He is believed to have written verses of the third canto of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage at rue Ducale 51. Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) arrived on 24 April 1834, fleeing his creditors in France. Former Austrian chancellor Klemens von Metternich (1773-1859) resided in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode at the townhouse of his friend violinist Charles de Bériot for a year beginning in October 1849, where he worked on his memoirs. Apolitical refugee, Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) lived on boulevard de Waterloo, where he completed Ange Pitou (1853). Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) lived in voluntary exile in Brussels from 1858 to 1860. Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) spent the years from 1870 to 1877 largely in Brussels, where he executed portrait busts as well as public monuments, including sculptures for the Bourse. Italian patriot, political figure, and Catholic philosopher Vincenzo Gioberti (1801-1852) lived and wrote in Brussels and Paris from 1833 to 1848, when he returned to Italy in the wake of revolution. Fleeing the Third Republic, General Georges Boulanger (1837-1891) departed Paris following a threatened coup d'état by his supporters in 1889. Despondent on the death of his mistress, he committed suicide at her tomb in Ixelles cemetery in 1891. The South American revolutionary José de San Martin (1778-1850) lived in Brussels from 1824 to 1831. Dutch writer Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-1887), known under the pseudonym Multatuli, wrote his masterpiece Max Havelaar (1860) at the tavern and inn Au Prince Belge at what is now rue d'Arenberg 52. American writer John dos Passos (1896-1970) lived at chaussée de Charleroi 90 between 1898 and 1901.In the 20th century, Dutch artist Maurits Escher (1898-1972) lived in Brussels from 1939 to 1941. During midcentury, political exiles fleeing totalitarian regimes in Europe found refuge in the city. Italians such as Count Carlo Sforza, the former foreign minister, arrived in the 1920s followed by German opponents of Nazism in the 1930s. Eastern Europeans, notably Poles, arrived in the immediate post-World War II years.Since the 1960s Brussels has hosted increasing numbers of foreigners consequent to its status as headquarters of the institutions of the European Union. In 1961, foreigners accounted for 6.7 percent of the population. Before 1960 most expatriates were from western European countries (France, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom). In the 1960s large numbers of Spaniards, Greeks, and Moroccans arrived as "guestworkers" to fill growing numbers of menial jobs available in a booming economy. Turks appeared in the 1970s.Approximately one-third of the metropolitan region's population currently consists of non-Belgians. In 1997, foreigners—both expatriates and immigrants—formed large percentages in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode (53.8 percent), Saint-Gilles (47.7 percent), and Schaerbeek (37.2 percent). In the city of Brussels the percentage was 35.5 percent.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.