Heritage and tourism
History of the Commune of Schaerbeek
Certain objects discovered fortuitously at the time of earthworks with 19 and 20th centuries, let predict that Schaerbeek was already inhabited at the time Neolithic era then occupied by the Romans at time of Nerviens.
In 1861 for example, during the widening of the roadway of Haecht (in the garden of the current College Emile max), one updated Gallo-Roman tombs. One found there ballot boxes containing of the bronze medals dating from year 117 (reign of the Hadrian emperor) as well as vases and potteries. Two years later, during work of foundation of the royal church Sainte-Marie, with the locality "Zavelberg", one discovered vaults attesting of the existence in this place of a Roman fortification. In 1908 finally, weapons and flint tools of the neolithic age were also discovered in the Josaphat valley, with the locality "Kattepoel".
Schaerbeek was besides with the turning of two secondary Roman lanes of the road Cologne-Tongres-Sea of North (Boulogne). One of these ways started from Adze, where an important Roman camp of supply of the armies was established, and, via Brussels, towards Elewijt, another great Roman center moved, then then towards Leuwen and Tongres. Its layout followed, in Schaerbeek, that of the street of the Post office and the roadway of Helmet.
The other on the basis of Bavay (France) ended in Elewijt via Maubeuge, Ecaussines, Tubize, Uccle, Brussels, Schaerbeek, Machelen and Vilvoorde. In Schaerbeek still, its layout followed that of the roadway of Haecht. The first mention of the name of the commune appears in an act of 1120 in which the bishop of Cambric, BURCHARD, allotted management as well as a share of the incomes of the churches of Scarenbecca and Everna (Evere) to the chapter of Soignies. The territory belonged to the Dukes of the Brabant then. Among those, the lord EVERWIN, known as of SCARENBEKE, which lived at the beginning of the 12th century in a residence strengthened at the edge of Maelbeek, with height of the place of Houffalize, opposite Neptunium. This residence, called "Castle the Mound" (because it was high on a monticule surrounded by water) was transformed during centuries and still remained at the 17th century. One is unaware of the date of his demolition. At the Average Age, the duke Jean II of the Brabant included Schaerbeek in the "Tank of Brussels", by subjecting his territory, in 1301, with the jurisdiction of the échevinat of Brussels.
At the 14th century, the lords of Crainhem had goods with Schaerbeek, between the roadway of Haecht and the boulevard Léopold III. Half of these goods were yielded, in 1389, in Henri, Seigneur of Heverlee, which resold this part in 1390 in Jean Van den Spieghel, called of Speculo. This last there built a country cottage and obtained from the Jeanne duchess of the Brabant the right to establish a wild rabbit or drives out private on the neighbouring grounds which it had acquired of Sweder van Zuylen d' Abcoude, Seigneur of Gaesbeek. The property, where one raised game being used for hunting, preserved a long time the name of "Warande" (wild rabbit). It passed to the Knights of Ophem by the marriage of Marguerite de Speculo (girl of above mentioned), then with Tower who assert it into 1647 in Boisschot, barons de Zaventem. The latter preserved it until the end of the 18th century.
Philippe the Good and its son Charles, dukes of Burgundy, also had them, in 1425, of the territories on the territory of Schaerbeek (between the street of the Consolation and the roadway of Leuwen (Wijngaerdberg)). A little further, with the locality "Twee Linden" (Two Limes), with the intersection of the street of the Walnut tree and the street Charles-Quint, were done, at that time, the reception of the princes visiting their good town of Brussels, second capital of the duchy. They were to swear there to observe the privileges of the chapter of Holy Gudule, of which they were going to press the territory.
As of the 15th century, the first fair of Schaerbeek bears the name of "fair of Diegem", simply because it fell at the same time as the pilgrimage from Holy Crow in Diegem. It extended along the ways leading to the church Saint Crow. 11th century at the end of 18th, Schaerbeek remains entirely rural. It is a modest village gathered around the old church Saint-Were useful, located at the origin in the middle of the current avenue Louis Bertrand, with height of the "monumental vase" (this work, entitled "Bacchantes" was carved by Godefroid Devreese and was offered to the municipal authorities by Raoul Warocqué 1911). The old church Saint-Were useful, built in 1300 with the site of a vault dating from the beginning of the 12th century, had to suffer from the misdeeds of the iconoclasts at the 16th century. Restored on different occasions (in 1637 and 1773 inter alia) and increased in 1842, it unused in 1879 (during the inauguration of the new church Saint-Were useful, built with the angle of the avenue Louis Bertrand and the roadway of Haecht), then is transformed into art school and gymnasium in 1891 and finally demolished in 1905. The two churches Saint-Were useful thus coexisted during more than one quarter century.
In 1540, Jacques de Deventer publishes a plan on which Schaerbeek appears for the first time. The village counts with 112 houses and 600 inhabitants. Part of the territory of Schaerbeek is then occupied by vegetable gardens of an excellent report/ratio, except for the almost uncultivated fields which separate it from the center of Saint-Josse, and which one named Zavelberg (sand mountain) because the ground was extremely sandy there. Another part was devoted to the culture of the vine. In south-east, the plate of Linthout was covered with a wood (forming part in the beginning of the Forest of Look after) extending by wood from Woluwé until Woluwe with Woluwé-Saint-Lambert and by that from Melsdal until Auderghem. The roadway of Leuwen was a way which, it there has two centuries, bordered its edge.
This wood, shaven in 1833 and converted one year later into a parade ground, is transformed, at the 20th century, in residential district. Let us note that the sandstones and the stones to be built that one formerly extracted from this plate were useful, inter alia, with the construction of the collegial Michaelmas. At the time, in addition to the gardens and feeder fields of Brussels, Schaerbeekois use asses, like nap or draught animal. The breeding of the asses was famous besides there since the time of the crusades; also one called Schaerbeek the country of the asses (in 1786, 1158 ago of them!). Every morning, a caravan of small asses heavily packsaddlled left Schaerbeek and moved towards the market of Brussels, taking a way which was baptized "Ezelsweg" (way of the asses) which is not other than the current street Josaphat.
When this caravan trottinait in the streets of Brussels, the housewives said "the asses of Schaerbeek are there! ". Thus, confusing the donkey-drivers and their animals, one affubla autochtones of the nickname of asses, which upset them by no means, quite to the contrary.
Today still, it appears, they are very proud of this name. During many years, Schaerbeek was besides the theatre of a village fair of the asses during which races of asses were organized. It was removed in the 1830 bus it often ended in memorable brawls. Until the medium of 16th, Schaerbeek will know one period of quietude. In fact the wars of the Reform will come to disturb this era of peace.
Then, the village will know many passages, campings, incursions, requisitions and military exactions of troops and successively will be devastated or plundered, inter alia by the mercenaries of prince d' Orange fighting against the pile cluster in 1572 and 1573, by Spanish soldiers mutinés in 1576 and 1584, by French soldiers in 1583, 1635 and 1673, by the troops of combined after the battle of Fleurus in 1690, by English soldiers of the duke of Malborough in 1706, by Bavarian soldiers in 1708, then again by French troops in 1746 and 1794. In 1795, under the French mode, a decree of the Committee of Public Hello removes the "Tank of Brussels" going back to 1301, sets up Schaerbeek in independent commune, attaches it to the canton of justice of Woluwé-Saint-Etienne and annexes the hamlet of Helmet there. At the end of 1799, the administrative existence of the commune is recognized officially by the appointment of a mayor (Mr. Goossens), of an assistant (alderman) and a town council. However, the principle of communal autonomy is definitively applied only after the revolution of 1830.
During days of this revolution, and more precisely on September 27, the Josaphat valley was the theatre of violent skirmishes between the Belgian revolutionists and the Dutch rear-guard which operated its retirement on Diegem.
With the census general of 1846, Schaerbeek has an extent of 884 ha of which 694 are cultivated; limits having mainly remained intact during centuries (the Seine was besides a long time its natural limit in the West).
In 1853, its surface is cut down by approximately 8 ha to the profit of the Town of Brussels for the creation of the Léopold District. On the other hand, it is increased in 1896 by the extension of its limits on the side western to the channel of Willebroeck and again reduced on the same side in 1921 by the transfer to the Town of Brussels of the band bordering the channel. Today, its surface, which was not modified any more thereafter, is 798 ha.