Monday, April 30, 2012

Charles van der Burch

Charles Albert Alexandre Louis Henri van der Burch was born into a prominent Belgian noble family in Aubry-du-Hainaut on April 24, 1779, the first born of three brothers. As a boy he served as a page to King Louis XVI of France. His brothers, Aimé and Louis chose to fight for the Emperor Napoleon after France annexed Belgium but Charles refused to do so. He showed his political opinions to a degree when he married the noble daughter of an Austrian baron, Baron von Vincent who was the Governor-General of the Austrian Netherlands for three months in 1814. When the French were first expelled from Belgium, Charles was one of the first to wear the red, yellow, black cockade of Brabant. The Allied commander in Belgium, Charles Augustus of Saxe-Weimar, gave Charles permission to raise a light cavalry regiment for Allied service in the Belgian Legion.

He became colonel and on February 13, 1814 was given his commission. On March 31, 1814 the Tsar of Russia awarded him the Order of St Vladimir for his commitment to the coalition. Unlike his brothers, he had no military experience but his younger brother Aimé served in his regiment as a lieutenant before his resignation on January 7, 1815. On April 10, 1815 Count van der Burch and his light cavalry were transferred to the command of his lieutenant-colonel Edward Mercx of Corbais. He was then made an aide-de-camp to King Willem I of Orange. This was compensation since, as in the days of the ancien regime, he viewed his regiment as his own property. His regiment then became the 5th Light Dragoons in the new Dutch-Belgian Army.

On February 20, 1816 for his service Charles was made Commander of the Order of the Netherlands Lion and later on May 6, 1816 was promoted to major-general and appointed military governor of the southern province of Brabant. He was made an honorary lieutenant-general in 1830 because of his distinguished record and he resigned on October 28, 1830 because of the political situation. He retired on November 24, 1838 and was made a Knight of the Order of Leopold by the new King of the Belgians. He died on March 4, 1854 at his estate d’Ecaussines. He is buried in the church there next to his wife along with his ancestors.

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