Castle of the Valley of the Duchess

Castle of the Valley of the Duchess

The Castle of the Valley of the Duchess (Dutch: "Kasteel van Hertoginnedal"; French: "Château de Val-Duchesse") is a former priory situated in the municipality of Auderghem in the Brussels Capital Region of Belgium. The castle is owned by the Belgian Royal Trust.

It played an important role as a venue for negotiations in Belgian and European politics after World War II. In 1956, Paul Henri Spaak [Pierre-Henri Laurent, "Paul-Henri Spaak and the Diplomatic Origins of the Common Market, 1955-1956", Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 85, No. 3 (Sep., 1970), pp. 373-396] lead the Intergovernmental Conference on the Common Market and Euratom at the castle, which prepared the Treaties of Rome in 1957 and the foundation of the European Economic Community and Euratom in 1958 [ [ Conférence intergouvernementale pour le Marché commun et l'Euratom] ] . The first formal meeting of the Hallstein Commission, the first European Commission, under the presidency of Walter Hallstein, was held on 16 January 1958 at the castle ["Procès-verbal de la première réunion de la Commission tenue le 16 janvier 1958 à Val Duchesse" (Bruxelles), CEE/C/9 f/58 (rév.) mb, Annexe II. Bruxelles: Commission de la Communauté économique européenne, 05 Feb. 1958] .


The priory for women was founded in 1262 by duchess Alice of Burgundy, widow of Henry III, Duke of Brabant. "Duchess Alice" gave her name to the place "Val Duchesse" or "Hertoginnedal" (=Valley of the Duchess). According to the legend Aleydis was inspired by Saint Thomas of Aquin who is said to have been a guest at Val Duchesse. It was the first priory for women in the Low Countries that followed the rule of Saint Dominic and was generously donated by Aleydis and other noble ladies. According to her wish Aleydis' heart was interred at a mausoleum today disappeared.

The priory further flourished and gained considerable wealth thanks to the generous gifts of numerous royal persons and noble families. In 1650 a wall was erected to protect the diverse edifices of the priory. The present-day castle was built as a residence for the prioress in 1780 [Mignot Adolphe, "Le Prieure De Val-Duchess en 1782", Brussels, Editions Universitaires, 1969, 157 pp.] .


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