Situation de la noblesse en Belgique
L’article 113 (ancien article 75) de la Constitution belge stipule que le Roi peut accorder des faveurs nobiliaires sans toutefois pouvoir y attacher un quelconque privilège.
La Noblesse est reconnue par la loi et le droit nobiliaire belge stipule quels titres nobiliaires peuvent être portés et dans quelles conditions la Noblesse et les titres peuvent être transmis d’une génération à une autre. De nos jours, il y a en Belgique environ 1300 familles nobles, dont environ 400 étaient déjà nobles sous l’Ancien Régime.
Le Roi fait usage de son droit d’accorder des faveurs nobiliaires. Pour l’octroi de ces faveurs, Il se fait assister par une Commission d’Avis qui Lui soumet les noms de personnes qui pourraient en bénéficier, en raison de leur conduite et de leur rayonnement. Le Roi peut également de sa propre initiative (motu proprio) honorer des personnes qui ne figurent pas sur la liste qui lui est soumise. Durant Son règne (1950-1993) le Roi Baudouin a accordé des faveurs nobiliaires (anoblissements et autres faveurs) à 489 personnes.
Pour être reconnue officiellement, une faveur nobiliaire doit être confirmée par une Lettre Patente à laquelle s’ajoute le paiement des droits d’enregistrement. C’est le Service de la Noblesse au Ministère des Affaires Etrangères qui est compétent pour ces matières.
L’Association de la Noblesse du Royaume de Belgique (ANRB)
L’Association de la Noblesse du Royaume de Belgique (ANRB) est une association sans but lucratif (asbl) créée en 1936. Les fondateurs voulaient assurer le maintien du patrimoine moral acquis par la noblesse, la défense des intérêts communs, et l’aide aux membres en difficulté.
L’article 4 des statuts prévoit que “L’association a pour objet d’établir un lien entre les membres de la noblesse belge, d’entretenir parmi eux les sentiments d’entraide et de solidarité, de maintenir chez eux l’idéal social et l’esprit de devoir qui sont l’un des apanages de la noblesse, ainsi que de sauvegarder, dans la mesure la plus large, leurs intérêts communs.”
La création de l’Association fut très bien accueillie et un an après, elle comptait déjà 1200 membres. Depuis lors, le nombre n’a cessé d’augmenter pour arriver actuellement à 12000 membres. Pratiquement tous les chefs de ménage des familles nobles sont membres, s’y ajoutent les isolés, les épouses et les enfants.
History of the nobility in Belgium
In Belgium, as in many other regions of Europe, the most ancient nobility appeared before the period when sovereigns began to practise an ennoblement policy. This started in Belgium with the Dukes of Bourgogne, in 14th and 15th centuries. Later, an edict of 1595 excluded any ascent to nobility except for those who were granted of patent letters, at first by the Habsbourg of Spain, then by those of Austria, which successively reigned in our region at that time.
After nobility was abolished in 1795, consecutive to the French Revolution, a procedure of recognition of the ancient nobility was established when Belgium and current Netherlands were gathered under the scepter of King Willem. Then, after the separation and independence in 1830, the Belgian constitution gave the King the power and a total freedom to ennoble and to grant titles, without being able to attach any privilege to it.
In diverse degrees and until this day, the successive sovereigns made use of this power. The result of this evolution is that the nobility, registered in the fundamental law of the country, is protected and very rare are the non-noble persons who dare pretend being noble. Nevertheless it already happened that politicians suggested that the status of the nobility should be eliminated.
The exact number of noble people in Belgium is not known, but is close to 0,2 % of the population of the country. The existing titles are the ones of duke, prince, marquee, count, viscount, baron and knight. The name of male non-titled noble persons is, in Dutch language, rather often preceded by the predicate of “Jonkheer”.
History of the Nobility Association of the Kingdom of Belgium
The Nobility Association of the Kingdom of Belgium (A.N.R.B – V.A.K.B.) was born in 1936 thanks to a small group of clear-sighted noble persons, members of the order of Malta for most of them. Their concern was double:
- On one hand, it was obvious that the evolution of the society, the consequences of the first world war, the inflation, the big economic crisis of 1929 and the recession of the profitability of the rural properties had very hardly affected the conditions of existence of the nobility ;
- On the other hand, for the clear-sighted spirits, it was clear that the insertion of nobility into the professional world had become an inevitable necessity. Moreover, wasn’t it in this domain that would have to be shown in the future the sense of duty and service so characteristic of nobility? These considerations were fundamental.
Today, the Association owns a beautiful building in Brussels and is installed in it. There are about 15.000 members, which represents more than two thirds of Belgian nobility, and it is member of CILANE since the origin of this last one.
The activities of the Nobility Association are multiple: two publications, conferences, an assistance organization to deprived noble persons, a youth club, a library and an iconographic office, a permanent secretariat, etc.
History of the youth club (Club des Jeunes)
The Club des Jeunes (CJ) was established in 1946, ten years after the Nobility Association was created, which makes it the oldest youth club of CILANE and is gathering together its members aged from 18 to 35 around diverse activities. It has counted more than 1.000 members a few years ago. At the acquisition of its building by the Nobility Association, a large room, located in the basement, was attributed to the exclusive use of the CJ, allowing it to organize of numerous drinks and parties for its members.
The activities of the club are very varied: clay shooting, automobile rallies, classical music concerts, social activities, conferences collecting high-quality speakers (ambassadors, cardinals, economists, journalists, etc.) But, the highest topic on the calendar remains unmistakably the ball and the Cilane International Week-End (IWE).
For a long time, the CJ organized its own youth ball in different places of Brussels, a couple of weeks before the huge Nobility Association’s ball, at Concert Noble. It was in this occasion that a Cilane IWE was organized. But, a few years ago, it has been decided that the IWE would be held at the same time as the huge nobility ball (the quadrille is always opened by members of the CJ), for everyone’s greatest pleasure. Indeed, with the arrival of all the young Cilane participants, Belgians are happy their ball looks much younger now, and Cilane guests now have the opportunity to attend the only ball which gathers together every year more than 800 people exclusively from nobility in Europe.
Since the origin, the CJ edits a little publication, enriched by numerous articles written by its members, to keep these informed about all the activities of the club. Having changed name around ten years, it is now sent only to the electronic form and remains, with the web site clubdesjeunes.be the link between the Committee and its members.
The youth club (Club des Jeunes) today
Now, in 2009, the Club des Jeunes (CJ) consists of a Committee, chaired by Amaury de Beauffort and about 550 members. Among the activities registered on the calendar this year, diverse conferences, parties, wine tastings, excursions and, of course, the big Cilane International Week-End (IWE) in March!
Indeed, every two years, the CJ organizes a big IWE which represents among the most frequented ones of Cilane, thanks to the attractive prices of the program and flights, the numerous possibilities of hosting in Brussels and, especially, thanks to this quite particular atmosphere which reigns there and which made that the organizers were nicknamed the “crazy Belgians”.