De Mirabello: Lords of Halen
On this page you will find a summary of the history of the family De Mirabelle van Halen. It is said that this family is the forerunner of the (Hilmann) von Halen and von Halem family.
Introduction: De Mirabello Van Halen
According to Gerhard Lange (1928) the most early roots, in the ages before Hilmann Van Halen, are probably going back to the Belgium counties Flanders and Brabant. The author tells us that a there was a monument in a church of the city of Mechelen in the year of 1734 of a Van Halen, who died in 1375. The monument was destroyed in 1580 by the English and again in 1810. Sir Lange could never have imagined that parts of this monument were found again in 1955 in the Saint-Rumbold's church (Sint-Romboutskerk) in Mechelen! Nowadays we know a lot more about this monument.
The tomb in the church belongs to Vranke de Mirabello (van Halen) and was made between 1390 and 1416. The monument was seriously damaged in 1580, and was sold in the 19th century to a privat-collector and the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels ('Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis'). The monument was beautifull decorated and can be seen as the most impressive monument of heraldry and nobility in Mechelen.
How did the monument look like? We do have some old descriptions. Fourteen figures were carrying a torch in one hand and a coat of arms in the other hand. Also the coat of arms of Vranke de Mirabello van Halen and Maria van Ghistelle and the names of the ancestors were shown. Thanks to an explanation of the text of the monument from 1560 the ancestors could be translated in 1955 (nr. I is the oldest person; starting with the male-line):
III.van Grimberghe, said van Assche ;
IV.d'Antoing, said d'Espinoy,
I. van Ghistelle,
VIII. van der Aa.
According to the monument Vranke de Mirabello van Halen was a son of Simon de Mirabello van Halen, who was a son of Jan de Mirabello van Halen (1280-1333). Jan de Mirabello came as a Lombardic merchant from Asti (which is not that far from the Italian city of Torino) and went to the Belgium counties of Brabant and Flanders. However, historians are not completely sure of the relation of Vranke and Simon de Mirabello van Halen, but probably Simon is the father of Vranke. The famous painter of his days, Jan van Battel, and Jan van Mansdale decorated the monument.
Vranke (Franco) de Mirabello van Halen
Vranke de Mirabello van Halen, who was according to the monument the son of Simon de Mirabello van Halen, was a wealthy and noble man. He worked as a governor of Mechelen and as a councillor of the duke (1367) and married to Maria van Ghistelle, a descendant of a prominent family of the county. Edward III, King of England, awarded Vranke de Mirabello van Halen the 'Order of the Garter' ('Orde van de Kousenband')in 1360. The Order of the Garter is the most senior and the oldest British Order of Chivalry. He participated in the battle of Basweiler in 1371. Vranke had close relations with England. He was knighted in London in 1331 at a tournament, which he won. We even know that the King of England gave him royal presents in 1364 and 1366 and that he was given full powers by the King of England in 1375.
Simon de Mirabello van Halen (+/-1280 - Gent 8-5-1346)
According to the monument, Simon was the father of Vranke de Mirabello van Halem. Simon was also noticed as van Halem in documents. Simon was a banker and was born in Italy as a bastard-son(!) of Jan de Mirabello van Halen.
Simon maried with 1. Isabella (Ysabel) Van Lierde (de Nevers) in 1324 and for the second time with an unknown woman. With his second wife he had 2 daughters: Lisbet (married Ywein van Vaernewijck) and Katelijne (married with 1.Gerem ute Zwane; 2.Filips van Masmine). He also might have had a son, called Pieter.
Simon was working as a moneylender for monarchs (like Eduard III of England and the duke of Flanders), churches, patricians and cities. He was working for the duke of Flanders, Lodewijk van Nevers, from 1323 to 1338, and he was one of the regents of the city. However, In 1338 he chose to stand up for Jacob van Artevelde (+/- 1290-1345) against the duke of Flanders. At the instance of Van Artevelde he was proclaimed governor ('ruwaard' or 'landvoogd') of Flanders in 1340. He was also 'schepen' (old occupation: ruler) of the Dutch city of 's Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch). He was killed by the followers of Lodewijk van Nevers in 1346.
Jan de Mirabello van Halen (? - 10-10-1333)
Jan can be seen as the oldest member of the family de Mirabello van Halen. He was a Lombardic merchant from the Italian city of Asti and a member of the Mirabello family of financiers. Jan (also known as Jean or Giovanni) went to Belgium. Jan was one of the most important moneylenders of Mechelen. He was also working as a leaseholder and a trader in skins and salt. In Belgium he became Lord of Halen ('Heer van Halen').
He married in 1312 with 'jonckvrouwe Van Mechelinne'. According to some literature he had two sons: Vranke and Simon. However, most people think that Vranke was a son of Simon, the son of Jan. Jan also had two daughters: Lisbet (married with Hendrik Schoonjans) and Clara (married with 1. Simon van Maelstede; 2.Gerard van Moerzeke; 3.Jean Vilain).
Jan was imprisoned by the duke of Brabant, who was jealous of his fortune. He died in prison at October 10 1333.
The Italian city of Asti
The 12th and 13th century can be seen as the era of prosperity for the Italian city of Asti. An intense business-expansion revived in those days. The local banker borrowed money to kings, queens and princes in the entire continent of Europe. Just like de Mirabello's!! Asti became the most important community ('commune') of its region.
And the name 'Mirabello'?
The surname 'De Mirabello' is probably going back to the Italian city of Mirabello, to the east of Asti. The word Mirabello comes from the Latin word Mirabellum. Mirabello is a city close to the Italian city of Ferrara and consists of the villages of Bondeno, Vigarano Mainarda, Poggio Renatico and Sant'Agostino.
The first Mirabello's lived in the Italian city of Quarto, to the east of Asti, between 1065-1296. Rufius de Mirabello was already mentioned in the year 1212.
We know that Jan (Jean, Giovanni) de Mirabello was a Lombardic merchant. But what kind of people were Lombards and why did they come to western Europe?
The Lombards (or Longobarden, Lomberden, Lombarden or Cawarsini, Coarsini (userers)) originally came from the valley of the Elbe in Eastern Germania (Germany). Because they were threatened by the Avares, they moved to Italy. The name means 'long beards'. The Roman Tacticus wrote about the Lombards as they were with few, but united with powerfull tribes. They did not feel well in submissiveness, but in battle. In Italy they were known as barberian conquerers around 500, when they occupied parts of Italy, mainly in the North. Around 600 the Kingdom of Lombardy was created by Autharis and his son Agilulf (590-616). They changed the old Roman habits and virtues by old Germanic ones and the kingdom was enlarged to the middle of Italy. After many wars they were baptised in 680. At the time of the Lombardic King Liutprand (712-744), the Kingdom of Lombardy was on its highest power. But after his dead the pope and Pippijn the Short and later his son Charles the Great defeated the Lombardic Kingdom completely.
At the end of the 13th century a lot of Italian Lombards settled in the low countries as traders, bankers and money-lenders. They came from the North Italian area of Lombardy. Also Giovanni di Mirabello and his cousins moved from Asti to Flanders. Especially for trade and during war time the Lombards were quite popular. They lent a lot of money to kings, princess, churches etc., so they could finance the expensive wars and armies. As a security the Lombards were given valuables.
Loaning of money with interest was forbidden by the Church in those days. But credit with security was allowed. The Lombards had to pay a tax to the government to practice their trade. As most Lombards, Jean and Simon were indispensable for the community, but they had many enemies. Father and son de Mirabello were both killed.
Later the Italian Lombards got competion by the native people in the low countries. The name 'Lombards' was not only used for the Italian Lombards anymore, but for all traders, bankers and money-changers. In Dutch the word 'lommerd' refers to a bank of loaning, and derives from the word 'Lombard'. Some streets in this region are still known as the Lombardstraat.
In the 14th century the prohibition on interest by the Church disappeared. The Lombards took profit of this measure and did not became very popular among the people because of their high interest.
Nowadays Lombardy is a region of Italy with the capital of Milan. Also Lake Garda and Lake Como belong to Lombardy.