Heeswijk Castle, locally known as Kasteel Heeswijk, lies west of the village of Heeswijk-Dinther, in the North Brabant province in the Netherlands.
The first castle at this site was built somewhere before 1100. The first mention of the castle is from 1156 when it is owned by a Count Almericus. It probably was a moated, round motte with a keep made of stone and wood on top. In the 13th century the castle becomes the property of the Van Benthum family through marriage. They probably enlarged the castle at the end of the 13th century with a round tower and a square gate tower.
Around 1370 Heeswijk Castle was sieged, but not taken, by the armies of Gelre and Gulick. After this the castle was bought by Willem van der Aa, a notable of Den Bosch. He started an ambitious plan to rebuilt the castle into a large square stronghold. Around 1400 the castle passed to the knight Hendrik van der Lecke. His daughter completed the building campaign around 1450.
In 1499 the castle and surrounding lands are bought by Cornelis de Glymes, Lord of Zevenbergen. He rebuilt the castle into a late-Gothic residence but preserved its defensive elements. In 1518 the castle was sieged again, but again not taken. This time by an army of Gelre, led by Maarten van Rossum. In 1554 the castle was bought by Jan, Count of East-Friesland. Prince Maurice of Orange tries in vain to take the castle in 1601 and 1603. In 1629 it falls into his hands without any resistance during his siege of the nearby town of Den Bosch.
Heeswijk Castle passes to Mathijs van Asperen in 1649 and was rebuilt into a baroque residence. It loses its defensive features. In July 1672 the French king Louis XIV and his army settle in the castle during their battle against the Dutch Republic. Also the English king Charles II and the bishops of Cologne and Munster, visit the castle were the Treaty of Heeswijk was signed. After the departure of the French army the castle was in a dilapidated state.
In 1684 the castle passes to the Van der Hoeven family who turned it into a comfortable mansion. In 1740 the castle goes to the Speelman family through marriage.
During the French Revolution in 1794 the castle serves as head-quarters for the English lieutenant-general Abercrombie and the English prince Ernst August. Successively the castle was occupied by the French general Pichegru to serve as head-quarters for his siege of Den Bosch.
In 1834 Heeswijk Castle was bought by the Belgian baron Andreas van den Bogaerde van Terbrugge. Again the castle gets rebuilt. He and his descendants were art collectors and decorated the castle with all kinds of art and the castle is partly used as a museum. In 1895 Alberic van den Bogaerde dies and leaves a strange testament behind; the castle has to remain unoccupied and in exactly the same state until 1963 when his youngest heir (a 12-year old boy) should reach his 80th birthday. A truly bizarre testament, even more so because in those times the life expectancy of men was a mere 45 years. The Van den Bogaerde family protests in court and get to sell large parts of the museum collection but the castle remained unoccupied.
During the Second World War the castle suffered only minor damage. In September 1944, during Operation Market Garden, the parachutists of the 101st Airborne Division landed around the castle.
In 1964 the descendants of Alberic van den Bogaerde move into the buildings on the bailey and restore the castle to give it its present appearance. These descendants have now all died and the castle is owned by the Heeswijk Castle Foundation. The castle is now used for all kinds of cultural activities.
When I visited the castle a wedding was going on, so I couldn't visit the interior. Oh well, that gives me a nice reason to visit it again!