Short historical overview of the d’Ursel family

The d’Ursel family descends from the Schetz. Originating from Smalkalde (Hesse), the latest established in Hasselt and Maastricht in the XVth century, and in Antwerp at the beginning of the XVIth century.

Les armes Schetz
     Real founder of the House, Erasmus Schetz (around 1480-1550), quickly acquired a dominating influence among the most important merchants of Antwerp. He was well known for the dealing of metals, in particular at the Calamine mines, and sugar imported from Brasil and cropped on the lands he had acquired since 1540. The remains of the factory he founded are now considered as an archaelogical site of increasing interest. He was ennobled by the court in 1527 and bought in 1545 the Grobbendonk seigniory. 
Erasme Schetz

Gaspard Schetz
et Catherine van Ursel
    His eldest son, Gaspar Schetz (1513-1580) was not only a powerful merchant but also King officer. In 1560, he gained the important position of general treasurer of The Netherlands. He also played a main political role which he wrote down. Heir to the Grobbendonk seigniory, he bought many lands, among which Wezemaal, Heyst and Hingene. His second wife, Catherine van Ursel (+ 1605), one of the daughters of the famous burgomaster of Antwerp Lancelot van Ursel, gave him two sons who made successsful careers.
    The youngest son, Antoine Schetz (1560-1640), made a brilliant military career. Governor of Bois-le-Duc, he defended this catholic bastion until 1629, thrown out then by prins Frédéric-Henri. Some years later, in 1635, he took his revenge, defending victoriously Leuven when assaulted by the franco-batave army. In 1602, the king set his Grobbendonk land up as a barony, and in 1637 as a county. His descendants died out in 1726, handing down all his fortune to the eldest branch of the family.
Antoine Schetz

Conrard Albert, 1er Duc d'Ursel
    This branch is descended from Conrard Schetz (1553-1632), Lord of Hingene, who in 1600 got the title of baron of Hoboken. Conrard Schetz was councillor, treasury assistant and even ambassador of the archdukes in London for a while. Adopted by one of his mother’s sisters, he received in 1617 the family name d’Ursel. He was married to Françoise, the eldest daughter of the Private Council’s president, Jean Richardot.

His son Conrard d'Ursel (1592-1659) was promoted to the dignity of count of the Holy Empire in 1638 and his great-grandson Conrard-Albert (1665-1738) to that of duke of Hoboken in 1717.

    The first duke of Hoboken, better known under the name of duke d'Ursel, ended off his long military career as governor of the county of Namur. He married in 1713 Princess Eléonore of Salm, daughter of a Bavarian family related to most European courts. He inherited the fortune from the youngest Grobbendonk family branch complying with the written wishes that the old count of Grobbendonk had addressed to him several years before : « United, our fortunes will make our family one of the most powerful of the country. » (...) 
Eleonore de Salm

Charles 2eme Duc d'Ursel
    His son Charles, 2nd duke d'Ursel (1717-1775), lieutenant field marshal in the service of Marie-Thérèse, military governor of Brussels, Knight of the Golden Fleece, married Princess Eléonore of Lobkowicz.

One of his daughters, Henriette d'Ursel, married the famous marshal Ferraris who designed the map that still carries his name.
Pcsse Eleonore de Lobkowicz

Wolfgang-Guillaume, 3ème duc d'Ursel
    His son Wolfgang-William, 3rd duke d'Ursel (1750-1804), general officer and husband of Princess Flore d'Arenberg, played a short but main role in the end-of-the-century disturbances well-known under the name of « Revolution of Brabant ». 
Pcsse Flore d'Arenberg

Charles-Joseph, 4ème Duc d'Ursel
    The French Revolution and the continuous debt contracted by his House all along the XVIIIth century, seriously undermined the fortune he left to his son Charles-Joseph, 4th duke d'Ursel (1777-1860).
L-V-M-J-F Ferrero-Fieschi, Pcsse de Masserano

This duke was described as a man « of pleasant company (...), witty and moderate in his opinions, what led him to earn the highest esteem from people .» He became burgomaster of Brussels under Napoleon, minister and Grand Master of the Queen’s House under King William, and last but not least senator of the new recently created kingdom  of Belgium. His wife Louise-Victoire-Marie-Josèphe-Françoise Ferrero-Fieschi, Princess of Masserano, gave him three sons from whom all the currently living d’Ursel are descended.

Joseph 6eme Duc d'Ursel
Antonine de Mun,
Duchesse d'Ursel
Comte Jean d'Ursel

The d'Ursel, killed during the two world wars for their King and Country

Le comte Wolfgang d'Ursel,
† 1914
et son fils Gérard,
† 1945
Le comte Jacques d'Ursel,
† 1942
Le comte Antoine d'Ursel
Le comte Hubert d'Ursel
† 1944
Le comte Edouard d'Ursel
† 1917
La comtesse Jean d'Ursel
† 1944


   1.      E. Coornaert, Les Français et le commerce international à Anvers. Fin du XVe-XVIe  siècle, 2 vol., Paris 1961.

2.      H.L.V. De Groote, De vermogensbalans van Melchior Schetz en zijn vrouw Anna van Stralen met hun testament van 1 juli 1569, dans Bijdragen tot de Geschiedenis, 3rd set, 55, 1972, pp. 226-263.

3.      Dr.H. Dierickx, Geschiedenis van Hoboken, Antwerp 1954.

4.      R. Ehrenberg, Le siècle des Fugger, Ecole pratique des hautes études, VIth section. Historical research centre,.S.E.V.P.E.N. 1955. French translation of " Das Zeilalter der Fugger ".

5.      L. François, Charles-Joseph d'Ursel (Brussel 1777-Hingene 1860), in Elite en Gezag. Analyse van de Belgische Elite in haar relatie tot de politieke regimewisselingen, Thesis presented to obtain the degree of Dr in Philosophy and Literature, History department, Gent 1987, t. III, pp. 1017-1061.

6.      Baron Freytag von Loringhoven, continued by D. Schwennicke, Europaïsche Stammtafeln, Marburg 1975. (This is a remarkable and very useful compilation presenting the family trees of the most famous European Houses. The Schetz and the d'Ursel are treated in t. IX (Marburg 1987, table 127 to 133). This chapter deals with the families " des früh- und hochkapitalismus ", among which the Borgia, Fouquet, Fugger, Henckel von Donnersmark and Rotschild ).

7.      P. Génard, Un acte de société commerciale au XVIe siècle. La maison Schetz Frères d'Anvers, in the Antwerp Geography Society’s Bulletin, Antwerp 1883.

8.      P.J. Goetschalckx, Geschiedenis van Grobbendonk, s.l. 1897.

9.      F. Kieckens, Une sucrerie anversoise au Brésil au XVIe siècle, in the Antwerp Geography Society’s Magazine, 1882, pp. 468-474.

10.  Lonchay, Etudes sur les emprunts des souverains belges au XVIe et au XVIIe siècle, in the Royal Academy of Belgium Bulletin, 1907, pp. 923-1013.

11.  L. Mees, Geschiedenis van Hingene, Gent 1894.

12.  J.L. Meulleneers, De Antwerpse bankier Erasmus Schetz en zijn geassocieerden Jan Vleminck en Arnold Proenen, in the Annals of the Archaeological Society of Limburg, 1891, pp. 307-334.

13.  G. Schetz, Report of the first negotiation between the States General and don Juan of Austria and their preceding events, by Gaspar Schetz, Lord of Grobbendoncq, general financial treasurer: 2 September 1576-16 February 1577, in the Report of the Royal Commission of History, 1st set, 1845, pp. 172-223 and 3rd set, VII, pp. 66-100.

14.  G. Schetz, Viri pietate virtute moderatione doctrinaque clarissimi Dialogus de Pace, s.l. 1579.

15.  H. Soly, Urbanisme en kapitalisme te Antwerpen in de XVIde eeuw, Brussels 1977.

16.  E. Stols, Um dos primeiros documentos sobre e engenho dos Schetz em Sao Vincente.

17.  Count Baudoin d'Ursel, Grobbendonk, morphologie d'une seigneurie du XVIe au XVIIIe siècle, in the anthology of the Genealogical and Heraldic Office of Belgium, XXXIV, pp. 43-114.

18.  (under preparation) Count Baudouin d'Ursel, Les Schetz. La Maison de Grobbendonk. La Maison d'Ursel.

19.  Count Hippolyte d'Ursel, Notes et documents concernant la famille d'Ursel, Brussels 1914.

20.  (Count Hippolyte d'Ursel), Les principaux tableaux de famille du château d'Hingene, s.l.n.d.

21.  (Count Hippolyte d'Ursel), Un roman familial au XVIIIe siècle. Conrard-Albert d'Ursel et Eléonore-élisabeth de Salm, s.l. 1928.

22.  Stéphane, (duke) d'Ursel, Une fortune princière sous l'Ancien régime: l'exemple de la Maison d'Ursel, Thesis presented to obtain the Master degree of Modern History under the direction of Pr. Hervé Hasquin, in 1997-1998, 143 pages.

Baudoin d'Ursel
Copyright 2007
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