Erasmushouse and the Beguinage

The Erasmus House and the Beguinage of Anderlecht are the oldest communal museums in Belgium. Together with the Collegial Church of Saint Peter and Saint Guidon they form a valuable historical unity which bears testimony to the glorious past of Anderlecht Commune. Anderlecht went through a period of considerable growth during the Middle Ages as a result of the cult of St. Guidon, the patron saint of cattle, and its position on the pilgrim route to Compostella. In 1252 a small beguinage came into existence here in the shadow of the church thanks to a donation from one of the canons.

Around the Collegial Church there were a number of important houses in which the canons of the Chapter lived. Among these was the future pope, Hadrian IV).

Erasmus stayed in one of these houses in 1521 in the home of his friend Pieter Wychman who was entrusted with teaching in the Chapter.

At that time Anderlecht was a small village of 300 inhabitants. For that reason Erasmus wrote to Guillaume Budé to say that he had followed his advice and had come to Anderlecht as he wanted to play at being a farmer. Although his stay was very short, he made a big impression since as early as the 17th century pilgrims visited the house ‘where the great Erasmus had lived’. Today this house shelters both a museum (the collection includes paintings by the Flemish Primitives, sculptures an furniture) and a study centre with thousands of early printed books which are used in research by countless scholars of Erasmus and his works.

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musée érasme