Mathieu Laurent Joseph Brialmont

Leutenant-General Mathieu Laurent Joseph Brialmont was a Belgian army officer, politician and minister of defense and was the father of Henri-Alexis Brialmont. A veteran of the Napoleontic Wars he later served the United Kingdom of the Netherlands but became a Belgian revolutionary in 1830 and served as army general and minister of defense.

Born in 1789 at Serain (Belgium) as the son of Mathieu Brialmont (?-1819) and Anne Marrie Petit Jean (?-1795) he lived through the upheavals of the French Revolution and later the First French Empire were he started his military career as did his half brother. Taking part in the Spanish peninsular war (1811) and the ill-fated invasion of Russia by Napoleon (1812) he rose through the ranks. Later he took part in the German Campain of 1813 and France (1814) until the abdication of Napoleon in 1814. During the Hundred Days he fought at the Battles of Ligny and Wavre but did not witness Waterloo. When discharged (1816) he left the army with honours.

As a Captain of the Infantry he joined the Dutch army in 1816 but only became active in 1817 but resigned in 1829 disgruntled because of a reduce of pay. In 1830 he returned to active service when the Belgian Uprising took hold and he joined the Army of the Meuse under general Nicolas Joseph Daine (1782-1843). He gained prominence for the capture of Venlo becoming its commander rising to the position of Leutenant-Colonel. In 1820 he married Anna-Maria Verwins who he met in Venlo. He would retain the city and the in estate at Maagdenburg until 1836 – two attempts by the Dutch armies to retake it (1830 and 1831) failed – Venlo was returned to the Netherlands in 1839 against local populair whishes.

Mathieu Brialmont assumed the position of commander of Antwerp in 1836 since the city was deemed to be an important strategic asset. In 1842 he became adjutant of Leopold I of Belgium and rose to the position of minister of defense in 1850 succeeding to Félix Chazal. He resigned in this position on instigation by his son over political debates proposing slashing the army budget in half in 1851. He maintained his position of Leutenant-General commanding the 4th territorial and 4th infantry divisions.

A staunch opponent of the Church and their influence in public and private life he came in conflict with local religious officials at Venlo. He remained a Liberal (right-wing) thinker and Freemason througout his life erecting the “la Simplicité” Lodge. His convictions forced him to leave Venlo for Antwerp in 1836. He also appears to be quite strict and harsh as far as the education of his children was concerned. During his service at Venlo (Maagdenberg) however he grown fond of growing fruits, vegetables and even wine at the estate his wife had brought him as a dowry. Later the domain was acquired the Roëll – Von Weiler family.

De died in Antwerp in 1885 aged 97 and was originally buried at Kiel Cemetery together with Anna who had already passed away in 1878. When the cemetery closed down in 1936 they were reinterred at Schoonselhof Cemetery (Z1 row 8, Hoboken, Antwerpen)