Origins and medieval times
The first traces of human activity on the right bank of the Senne date from the Stone Age and Bronze Age. The remnants of a Roman villa and of a Frankish necropolis were also found on the territory of Anderlecht. The first mention of the name Anderlecht, however, dates only from 1047 under the forms Anrelech, then Andrelet (1111), Andreler (1148), and Anderlech (1186). At that time, this community was already home to a chapter of canons and to two feudal manors, those of the powerful lords of Aa and of Anderlecht.
In 1356, Louis of Male, Count of Flanders fought against Brussels on the territory of Anderlecht, in the so-called Battle of Scheut, supposedly over a monetary matter. Although he defeated his sister-in-law, Joanna, Duchess of Brabant, and briefly took her title, she regained it the following year with the help of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor. In 1393, Joanna’s charter made Anderlecht a part of Brussels. It is also around this time that the church of Saint Guido was rebuilt above the earlier Romanesque crypt in the Brabant Gothic style.
The city of Anderlecht became a beacon of culture in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1521, Erasmus lived in the canons’ house for a few months. Charles, Duke of Aumale and Grand Veneur of France also had a residence here.
The 17th and 18th centuries were marked by the wars between the Low Countries and France. On 13 November 1792, right after the Battle of Jemappes, General Dumouriez and the French Revolutionary army routed the Austrians here once again. Among the consequences were the disbanding of the canons and Anderlecht being proclaimed an independent commune by the French.
19th century and later
The 19th century saw a remarkable population growth, mainly because of the proximity to a rapidly expanding Brussels. Remarkable new urban developments and garden cities such as La Roue/Het Rad and Moortebeek were built at the beginning of the 20th century to house the influx of newcomers. Today, the name Anderlecht rings a bell in every Belgian ear thanks to its very successful football club.