The company is named after the street of the same name where Cotonco had decided to construct a building to house its European staff and to locate its registered office. This project was entrusted to an ad-hoc subsidiary which when founded in 1957 took the name Immobilière Brederode. This name was later changed into Financière Brederode, and later still in into its present, simpler name.
As the inhabitants of Brussels know, the rue Bréderode is a narrow and short street alongside the rear of the Royal Palace linking the Place du Trône with the rue de Namur. This regal neighbourhood housed the main colonial companies that were active in the Congo Free State, only one step away from their main source of inspiration, king Leopold II.
For a long time the neighbourhood was very aristocratic, since a lot of noble families lived there in the 19th century: Brederode, Culembourg, Egmont, Mansfeld, Marnix, Nassau etc.
The rue Bréderode reflects this golden age (and the intolerance that was characteristic of it) and pays homage in particular to one of its illustrious heroes : count Henry of Brederode, aka « the Great Beggar ».
The Belgian author Théodore Juste (1818-1888) wrote the following biography:
« Henry of BREDERODE, born in Brussels in 1531, the son of Renaud II, count of Brederode and Philippine de la Marck, the sister of the illustrious Evrard, prince bishop of Liège.
The Brederode family stemmed from the former counts of Holland and openly flaunted these origins. For example, Renaud II, much to the dislike of Charles V, adorned the streets of Ghent with both the coat of arms of Holland and his own. He was a member of the Council of State and a knight in the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Henry, his eldest son, first was one of Charles V’s pages and later followed his brothers’ footsteps and embarked on a military career. In 1552 he served in the army led by William of Orange. He subsequently took part in the war surrounding the advent of Philip II. One of his brothers was killed in 1557 during the famous battle of Saint-Quentin; the other fell some years later when fighting the Turks.
Philip II rewarded Henry’s courage and services and appointed him captain of one of the fourteen cavalry units or ‘compagnies d’ordonnance’ of the Netherlands in 1559. He was a brave nobleman but had loose morals, a hard and cynic man, even in his statements, an entertaining table companion and a fun person to be with
From his father he inherited two estates, he was the count of Brederode and Vianen, lord of Almeyden, viscount of Utrecht etc.
He married Amalia, the countess of Nieuwenaar, « a virtuous lady », according to baron of Montigny.
Brederode became William the Silent’s right hand man and accepted his authority. He regarded Louis of Nassau as a brother.
He was a tall man, virile and energetic, cut out for battle and he strongly opposed Philip II’s religious and polictical tyranny.
In 1565, when the count of Egmont left for Spain to inform the king of the situation on the Netherlands Brederode accompanied him to Cambrai where he drew attention to himself by the sheer hatred he felt for cardinal Granvelle. With his own blood he signed the deed stipulating he would avenge any harm done to the count of Egmont.
However, Brederode did not take part in the initiatives of the famous league or confederation of nobles and was not amongst the firsts to sign the Compromise of Nobles.
On 21st January 1556 Margaret of Parma wrote to the king that Brederode was still a devout catholic. A few days later she accused the nobleman of allowing the publication of heretic books in his city . She quickly received his apologies and a explanation.
Brederode wrote to her that it was true that there was a printer in his city but that he had instructed him not to publish anything without the prior reading and approval by a Catholic priest and two other persons instructed to do so by the church.
He continued that one month earlier he had imprisoned this printer on suspicion of not complying with his directives but that he had had to release him due to lack of evidence.
At the same time he pledged allegiance to the vicequeen of the Netherlands and the Catholic faith. Nevertheless he became the leader of the confederate nobles. He sided with Louis of Nassau and following consultation with his friends he solemnly handed over a plea to Margaret of Parma requesting her to abolish the inquisition and the edicts which entailed horrible torture for heretics
In the night of 3rd April 1566 Brederode and Louis of Nassau entered Brussels together with two hundred confederate nobles, all on horseback and dressed for battle. When he entered Nassau’s mansion, he told the counts of Horne and Mansfeld : « Some believed I would not dare to come near Brussels but here I am and I might leave the city in another capacity. »
On the fifth of April Brederode together with four hundred confederate nobles went to the vicequeen’s palace and presented Philip II’s sister the famous plea. Those who had signed it requested the abolition of the inquisition and moderation insofar as the edicts were concerned.
The vicequeen’s reply, which came the following morning, did not satisfy them. Brederode invited all of his friends to a banquet and caused quite a stir after one of Margaret’s courtiers had insulted them calling them ‘beggars’. He declared that he was more than willing to bear the name of beggar despite the shame such a name entailed and that he did not care to beg for king and country.
All of his table companions cheered and Brederode put on a travelling bag, filled a wooden cup with wine and drank to the good health of the beggars.
A delegation headed by Brederode returned to the palace on 8th April voicing their anger with the reply. From Brussels he left for Antwerp and was confident of the League of Nobles’ chances of success. In Antwerp more than four thousand people gathered in front of the Red Lion where he was staying. He appeared in the window holding a glass and addressed the crowds who subsequently escorted him to the city gates.
In the month of July 1566 there was uproar in all provinces stirred by Lutheran and Calvinist preachers who were permitted to practise their religion freely thanks to the dynamism of the confederate nobles. Antwerp was the centre of the revolt and Margaret of Parma sent troops to be stationed there, thereby attempting to break the rebellion
Set on thwarting this plan Brederode arrived in Antwerp together with a great number of noblemen on 5th July. On the 13th he approached William of Orange. William was asked by the city’s merchants to restore order and he had left for Antwerp with the vicequeen’s permission. The following day Brederode went to Saint-Trond where the confederate nobles would gather again. New drastic resolutions were passed during this meeting. The confederate nobles were no longer satisfied with only a legal protection of Calvinists and Lutherans. For the sake of religious freedom they were prepared to fight fire with fire.
Margaret of Parma, hoping to restore peace, sent William of Orange and the count of Egmont to Duffel to speak to the agents from the confederate nobles. Brederode took part in this meeting but to no avail. The confederate nobles declared they wanted to negotiate in Brussels, a delegation left for the city but not Brederode who perhaps feared for his own life.
The population, inflamed by the sermons, expressed its outrage and started the Inconoclastic Fury in Flanders’ churches. Shocked by this news the vicequeen, practically a prisoner in Brussels, gave guarantees to the confederate nobles. She guaranteed to protect them against the Philip II’s anger and the nobles promised to rein in the Iconoclasts. Brederode – not waiting for this commitment – took up arms and saved the famous Egmont abbey near Harlem from the raging mob. However, as the vicequeen read in a letter, on 27th September he had – to the tunes of pipes and drums – removed the statues of saints from the churches in Vianen.
Since he had no faith in the agreement of 23rd August, did not trust Margaret of Parma’s sincerity and had already anticipated a reaction, he started to enlist soldiers. The viceqeen had complained about this threat and William of Orange made much effort trying to clear Brederode’s name. « This lord, who is enlisting five hundred soldiers, only wants to secure his city’s and his own safety. »
The sectarian violence resulted in the reaction Brederode had anticipated and feared. The confederate nobles started to quarrel and Margaret of Parma took advantage of their discord. Although she had been lenient before, she now became very authoritarian. She called her troops to arms, demanded the sermons be stopped and forbade the practise of the new religion. She went even further. She demanded that the heads of the compagnies d’ordonnance, other noblemen and vassals would pledge allegiance to the king and would renounce any leagues opposing him.
Brederode refused to take such an oath and made preparations – too late however – for confrontation. He entered into agreements with Protestant ‘communities’ gathering in Antwerp, thereby granting them the right to practise their religion and they in turn pledged to make donations he would distribute amongst their churches. With the support from the Protestant communities Brederode mobilized people, both cavalry and foot soldiers.
The shameful defeat of John of Marnix at Oosterweel did not discourage the leader of the confederate nobles. He fled to Amsterdam and tried to gather support. He went to the parks where the middle classes practised archery and arquebus shooting. He attempted to build a power base. His objective was to gain control over the city.
He failed and learned that William the Silent had fled to Germany. He subsequently sought asylum. On the evening of 27th April 1567 at eleven pm, he, his wife and a few noblemen left for Emden. There he made himself heard when learning that the Duke of Alba had taken over from Margaret of Parma.
He objected to the tyranny installed by Philip Ii’s new lieutenant and qualified him as a « renegate Moor»,. He also tried to spur revolt in the Netherlands and to establish a new League of Nobles.
Together with seven other noblemen who had fled he drew up the second plea. This was the final but unsuccessful attempt by a man with a big heart but a narrow mind, the last hope for Brederode who had ‘maybe’ as his motto.
He died on 15th February 1568 in the castle of Varenburch where the count of Schauenburg had granted him asylum.
On the 26th the count of Hoogstraten wrote to Louis of Nassau that Brederode had died peacefully and not in agony as his adversaries claimed.
The former leader of the confederate nobles remained in Gehmen (in the Duchy of Cleves) when the Duke of Alba, who failed to capture him alive even followed him into the grave. On the basis of the resolution of 28th May 1568. The Council of Troubles condemned him for all eternity and confiscated his possessions. A worthy revenge for the Duke of Alba. » Th. Juste.