Anneessens, Frans (François, Franciscus)

Anneessens, Frans (François, Franciscus)
   Born in Brussels on 25 February 1660, Frans Anneessens was a craftsman who, as a slate cutter, belonged to the Saint Nicholas nation, and, as a chair maker, to the Saint Christopher nation, two of the nine nations that together comprised one of the municipal governing institutions in Brussels.
   In 1698, Anneessens was chosen dean of the Saint Christopher nation and, in July 1699, he acted as an advocate before the Council of Brabant in arguing for preservation of time-honored privileges accorded to the craft guilds, for which the publication of the Luyster van Brabant in 1698 had given renewed impetus. Defeated in his efforts, the council passed a regulation consisting of 24 articles, on 12 August 1700, that severely restricted the political power of the nations, which the deans refused to swear an oath to uphold.
   Anneessens was chosen by the Saint Nicholas nation sometime before 1717 as the officer charged with leveling fines on members guilty of committing transgressions. In that capacity, he acquired an in-depth knowledge of urban statutes and privileges, and he served as a spokesman for the nation in dealing with city and provincial authorities. Recognized for his eloquence and acumen, he became a leading advocate for the nine nations, which had recently rejected a new tax increase.
   Backed by Hercule Turinetti, the marquis de Prié, minister plenipotentiary of the governor, Eugene of Savoy, the Council of Brabant passed two decrees on 11 June and 24 July 1717 that rescinded the political powers of the nations. The citizens of Brussels rebelled and the marquis, lacking adequate military forces, backed down and annulled the measures. Disturbances continued and, with the arrival of Austrian troops in 1719, de Prié quelled the insurrection. Anneessens and five other deans were charged with inciting the insurrection and imprisoned, most probably in the Steenporte. Following a six-month trial, Anneessens was found guilty and, cited as the leader of the rebellion, he was decapitated on the Grand' Place on 19 September 1719. The other four deans were banished.
   Viewed as a martyr, Anneessens is remembered as a hero by the populace for defending the city's freedoms. A statue has been erected to his memory and a central city square and metro station are named after him.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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