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Leuvis Van Damme
Van-damme

Leuvis Van Damme, painted by Walter Bartel

Vital statistics
Name Leuvis Van Damme
Birth/Death March 1427 - 17 September 1503
Reign 1 August 1475 - 17 September 1503
Predecessor Position created
Successor Leuvis II
Leuvis I signature

Leuvis Van Damme, later known as Leuvis I and sometimes jokingly nicknamed Leuvis the Weak [1] (ca. March 1427 – 17 September 1503) was a Brunanter politician, military commander, administrator, and contested founding father of Brunant who served as President of the Brunanter Republic from 1471 to 1475, and as the first King of Brunant from 1475 until his death.

Van Damme was born to a wealthy Dutch family in Grijzestad, and later moved to the Netherlands at the age of seventeen to serve in the local militia. He returned to Brunant in the early 1450's a wealthy, prominent general and politician, serving as head of his own personal guard that he formed in the Hague, which served as one of the main armies in the Republic's garrison. He later looted and captured trade caravans throughout Europe for the Republic, and eventually was elected President in 1471, narrowly defeating his main political rival, the Liberal Martin Barnès.

After arresting and exiling all of his major political opponents on behalf of his wife and crushing all major revolts opposing his rule, he officially declared himself the King of Brunant in 1476, being crowned in Grijzestad around the autumn of that year and ruling Brunant until his death in 1503.

BiographyEdit

Early life Edit

Van Damme was born in Grijzestad, Brunant as the first out of two surviving children around March of 1427 to Gerhard Van Damme (b. ca. 1374) and Philippa of Cleves (b. ca. 1380). Gerhard was a rich merchant from Maastricht and a descendant of nobleman Eberhard of the Mark, and Philippa was the daughter of Adolf III, Count of Cleves and Mark. His mother and father died when he was only a small child, and him and his younger sister, Margarethe, was adopted by their uncle Adalbert Van Damme, who lived near the modern settlement of Koningstad. The two children were privately educated in the Netherlands and Brunant tutored by educated servants of Adalbert, and local doctors and priests in the area. They were able to learn hunting, cooking, arithmetic, astronomy, history, religion, fencing and basic sword-fighting.

As a child, Leuvis was very pessimistic and content with his position, often considering to become a monk in Germany. However, around the age of ten, he was supposedly blinded by the sight of Jesus Christ himself while strolling in the forests near his uncle's mansion. Jesus apparently told him of becoming ambitious, and claiming all titles that God wanted him to claim. From that day forward, he became ambitious and ready to claim all titles for God's glory. However, many scholars openly deny this ever happened, saying that this tale was probably passed around as propaganda during his reign as King.

After over ten years of education, he enlisted in the local Amsterdam militia as a halberdier in the Netherlands at the age of about seventeen or eighteen.

Military career Edit

During his time in the Dutch militia, Van Damme learned multiple lessons about military tactics, strategy, and up-and-close combat, and was often mentored and tutored by Thaddeus Andrijk, a general in the same regiment as him. While his regiment did not participate in any major wars or rebellions, they did engage in battle with each other in training, and he was often complimented by his fellow militiamen as "diligent and ruthless in personal combat". Van Damme slowly, but surely went up the ranks in his regiment and became a commander in the late 1440's, and left the Netherlands with about 100 loyal men with him that he called the Dammelegioen (Damme Legion).

Despite this, he was not a very able tactician, having a number of aides assisting him. He returned to Brunant in 1449, where he married and had children. He began to enter republican affairs, being enlisted to command troops in southern Brunant.

 Republican politics Edit

Shortly after he was enlisted as a commander, he decided to pursue politics by improving relations with the wealthy and influential politician Johannes Neyt. After a few years of influence and the marriage to Neyt's sister Isabelle in 1452, Van Damme was deployed in southern Italy and looted Venetian and Spanish trade caravans going through the area for the glory of the Republic. He began to earn a reputation for this however, and by the late 1450's had a significant bounty put on his head by both governments, and also became one of the main reasons Brunant ended hiring corsairs and privateers in 1465. After this, Van Damme primarily became influenced in politics, and served as marshal of the realm during Johannes Neyt's term as President from 1467 to 1471.

Rise to power Edit

By the late 1460s, Van Damme drifted towards the conservative faction of the Estates, and became one of their leading figures, especially due to the actions of his wife in forging secret alliances. He began to speak about having a stronger leadership, uniting the government and improving the declining economy.

After Neyt's term ended in the autumn of 1471, Van Damme, along with the convincing of his wife Caroline Koch and friend Anthony von Herrenhausen ran for President of Brunant against the Liberal Martin Barnès, and narrowly defeated him by convincing the Congress of the Republic and the Republican Estates that he would "bring a time of peace and prosperity for Brunant, and strengthen all factors of the steadily crumbling Republic". During his term as President, Van Damme improved the local infrastructure, ended all connections with corsairs and privateers, and created more rights for the lower class of Brunant. However, his wife constantly pressed him into being more ambitious, further seeing that the republic was dying and there made no sense to try and save it.

By 1475, as Van Damme's term was about to expire, there was much division amongst the members of the Estates and very little was being achieved. His wife, along with politician Anthony von Herrenhausen and the Spanish ambassador, Carlos María Sanchez y Vega began to recruit support in the estates for the continuation of Van Damme's term in power, which also included bribing politicians for support. Due to large disagreement in the Estates, the vote was able to pass, but not without a failed attempt at arresting Van Damme in order to prevent the vote.

With Van Damme effectively in complete control of the government, he declared the himself king in the summer of 1475. In June of 1476, he was crowned in Grijzestad as King of Brunant.

Reign Edit

FamilyEdit

In 1452, he married Isabelle van Neyt (1433-1465) and had they had 6 children:

  • Hubertus Van Damme (1453-1499)
  • Caroline Van Damme (1455-1521)
  • August Van Damme (1455-1459)
  • Gerhard Van Damme (1458-1500)
  • Maria Van Damme (1460-1461)
  • Gustav Van Damme (1461-1465)

Isabelle died while giving childbirth to Gustav, a sickly child who died at age 4. In 1466, he married Caroline Koch (1441-1516) and they had 7 children:

  • Christina Van Damme (1467-1501)
  • Leuvis Van Damme (the future Leuvis II) 1470-1533
  • Johana Maria Van Damme (1473-1510)
  • Adriaan Van Damme (1473-1560)
  • Caroline Alexandra Van Damme (1475-1482)
  • Jan Van Damme (1476-1520)
  • Elizabeth Van Damme (1478)

Via his great-grandfather Eberhard of the Mark, his descendants are related to the kings of Spain, Norway, Denmark and other European monarchies.

In popular cultureEdit

  • The StarTV series Caroline looks at his reign and the influence of his wife.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. He was known as "the Weak" as it was often rumored and joked that he had to ask his wife's permission to do anything.

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