Belgian Beer Corner: Het Anker Brewery the maker of Gouden Carolus
Het Anker (The Anchor) is a particularly historic brewery, being on the site of a former place where Nuns had a form of convent, a Begijnhof (Beguinage), where the nuns brewed; it is known that there was brewing on the site from as early as 1369. That it has a history is no idle boast on the part of the brewery, since Mechelen's Groot Begijnhof (Great Beguinage), of which it is very much a part, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The brewery is mainly known for its Gouden Carolus range. These are named after a coin with the head of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles Quint (V) (1500-1558), who spent much of his childhood in Mechelen, when it was the capital of The Netherlands (Belgium breaking away from it in 1830). He was brought up in the court of his Regent, Margaret of Austria (1480-1530), the Governess of The Netherlands, whose Palace still stands in the city, as does that of Charles Quint's Grandmother, Margaret of York (1446-1503), the third wife of the last reigning Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold (1433-1477), and the sister of England's King Edward IV. Margaret of Austria ruled The Netherlands from Mechelen, from 1507 until Charles Quint came of age, in 1515, but, in 1518, resumed the role when Charles was off fighting the Ottomans and the French. She then ruled from Mechelen, until her death, in 1530. The capital of The Netherlands part of the Habsburg Empire then changed from Mechelen to Brussels, and thus the most illustrious period in the city's history, its Imperial period, was over.
Charles Quint actually lived in Margaret of York's Palace. Margaret of Austria was born out of a monumental union between the Habsburgs and Burgundy, i.e. she was the daughter of the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I (1459-1519) and Mary of Burgundy (1457-1482), the daughter of Charles the Bold. This was the famous Habsburg "Burgundian Inheritance" which included the Order of Chivalry known as the Knights of the Golden Fleece (Toison d'Or), which gave its name to a former Het Anker beer. Mary of Burgundy and her father, Charles the Bold, lie side by side in magnificent tombs in the crypt of the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady), in Bruges, which features the Habsburg's alliance with Burgundy.