Finding the Tombs of Margaret of England & Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain

Photo by Moniek Bloks

Brussels is about three hours by train from where I live in the Netherlands so I went on a quick day trip to Belgium. The Cathedral of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula is walking distance from Brussels Central station and the warm sun made for an excellent photo opportunity.



Roman foundations of the Cathedral


The church itself is quite beautiful, and I was surprised by a number of visitors and the fact that there was even a service going on. When I arrived part of the church was closed off, but fortunately, they removed the ropes after the service was over. Luckily, because that part was exactly where I needed to be for the tombs, which were located to the left and the right of this magnificent altar.

Tomb of Albert, Archduke of Austria and Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain
Tomb of Albert, Archduke of Austria and Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain

Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain was born on 12 August 1566 in Segovia as the daughter of Philip II of Spain and Elisabeth of Valois. Her mother would die in childbirth two years later. Philip II would later try to claim the French throne for Isabella. However, France was under Salic law and forbade succession through a female line and of a female. Philip II would cede the Spanish Netherlands to her under the condition that she marry her cousin Albert. Together they reigned over the Spanish Netherlands and were supposed to be succeeded by their descendants. The agreements stipulated that if a woman would succeed she would marry the King of Spain or a man of his choice. If they had no children, what ultimately happened, the Spanish Netherlands would revert to the King of Spain. Despite them having no successors their reign brought much-needed stability to the Netherlands. Isabella died on 1 December 1633.

Tomb of Margaret of England and John II, Duke of Brabant
Tomb of Margaret of England and John II, Duke of Brabant

Margaret of England was born on 15 March 1275 as the daughter of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile at Windsor Castle. She was just 15 years old when she married the future John II, Duke of Brabant at Westminster Abbey. They had a single son, the future John III after ten years of marriage. Margaret and John had an unhappy marriage as John had many mistresses and illegitimate children, some of whom were raised alongside Margaret’s son. Margaret and John visited England for the joint coronation of Margaret’s brother Edward and his wife Isabella of France.

Margaret would outlive her husband for 22 years, and she died around 1333.

The tombs are truly beautiful, but as the altar was roped off from the front it made for an awkward photography angle.


The Cathedral, however, seems unaware of who exactly is buried on their grounds. There are no signs, and they are not listed on the map. It’s a shame, really.

The Cathedral was also the site of some interesting events:

1312: Funeral of John II, Duke of Brabant
1333: Funeral of Margaret of England
1480: Baptism of Margaret of Austria, daughter of Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian of Austria
1498: Baptism of Eleonor of Austria, future Queen of France
1599: Joyous Entry of Archduke Albert and Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain, Governors of the Southern Netherlands
1622: Funeral of Archduke Albert
1633/1650: Funeral service and later entombment of Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain
1745: Funeral service for Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (buried in the Imperial Crypt, Vienna)
1803: Te Deum in the presence of Napoleon Bonaparte and Joséphine
1926: Marriage of the future Leopold III and Astrid of Sweden
1934: Funeral serviced for King Albert I
1935: Funeral service for Queen Astrid
1959: Marriage of the future Albert II and Paola
1960: Marriage of King Baudoin and Fabiola
1965: Funeral service for Elisabeth in Bavaria, Queen of the Belgians
1993: Funeral serviced for King Baudoin
1999: Marriage of King Philippe and Matilde
2003: Marriage of Prince Laurent and Claire
2014: Funeral service for Queen Fabiola

About Moniek Bloks 2769 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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