In his will dated 13 December 1500, Arnold Trot, registrar of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Leuven and chaplain of the Sint-Pieterskerk left a sum of money for 7 scholarships. The scholarships were meant to benefit boys of his friends and family from the cities of Mechelen and Muizen.
The administrators of his will – Adriaan van Utrecht, Jan Calenteyn and Pieter van der Beken – went ahead to set up the Collegium Mechliniense, or “Collegie van Mechelen” in 1501.
It was also called the Trotcollege.
Only Middle-Class Boys please
Trot made sure that the recipients of his scholarship were not rich, but they shouldn’t be poor either:
“Non divites, non mendicantes, sed tales quorum parentes non sufficiunt filios enutrire per omnia in scolis” (Not rich, not beggars, but boys whose parents having trouble bearing all the costs by themselves)
The Spanish Fury
Emboldened by his victory at Den Briel in 1572, William of Orange started marching south. Leuven’s city and university drew up a new tax on beer, wine and real estate called “gemeyne middelen” to build up the city’s defense. But on 3 September 1572, Orange’s forces marched into the city. The people of Leuven realised that it was impossible to defend the city, and they paid the ransom of 16,000 florins to avoid being plundered. But since the war has arrived at the doorstep of Leuven, many students fled the city. With the students gone, the income of the professors and the college administrations dropped. After 1578, there was almost no students left in Leuven.
To fight back the rebels led by Orange, Catholic troops from the rest of the Holy Roman Empire arrived in Leuven – from modern-day Spain, Italy and Germany, including mercenaries from all over.
During the Eighty Years’ War of the Dutch Revolt, the citizens of Leuven suffered from the plundering and bullying of these troops. Merchants were consistently robbed. Inhabitants went as far as Namur to sell their furniture to pay ransom to these Catholic soldiers.
Now called the Spanish Fury, the plundering, robbing and killing by Habsburg troops in the southern Low Countries ended in the greatest massacre in Belgian history with the Sack of Antwerp (1572–1579).
Wih the students gone, the college buildings were occupied by the troops, who destroyed many of them. It was clear that by 1578, the Trotcollege never recovered from it.
According to the archives, a certain Christophe van Crieckenbeke, pastor of the Sint-Janskerk (Church of St John) in Mechelen in his will of 30 August 1578 changed his scholarship donation from Trotcollege to the College de Valk, following the “dissolution and loss” of the former.
But there is nothing left in history from 1578 to 1797, of what happened to the property of the Trotcollege.
Another College van Mechelen
Under the instigation of the City of Mechelen, a new College van Mechelen (Mechlin College) was set up in a house along the Dorpsstraat(?) in Leuven on 7 March 1695. The “Collegium Provinciae Mechliniensis” was also named after the city saint, Rumbold of Mechelen, so it was also called “Sint-Romboutscollege“. It is not sure where this college was located but it was demolished together with the abolition of the university in 1797.
The current-day Sint-Romboutscollege in the city of Mechelen is a primary and secondary school. Founded in 1863, it has nothing to do with either College van Mechelen in Leuven.
According to this map from 1649, the College van Mechelen was located on the modern-day Mechelsestraat.
Since the end of the 13th century, on the first stretch of the Mechelsestraat from today’s “Zeven Hoeken” (Seven Corners) to the Vismarkt (Fish Market), the street was called the “Scipstraet” (Shipstreet). This is because the street led to the river harbour of Leuven, in the Craenendonck and Vismarkt. Over the Vismarkt, there was a “Schipbrugge” (ship bridge) which was also called the “Vischbrugge” (fish bridge).
If the original College van Mechelen (Trotcollege) was indeed located on the Mechelsestraat where the former Schipstraat was, then you have to visit it not because there is any trace of it today, but because it has to be one of the most pleasant spots nowadays in Leuven! A pedastrianised shipping street, this part of the Mechelsestraat encapsulates much of the medieval nature of Oud Leuven, rarely seen elsewhere in the city.
Here are some of the oldest houses with the quaintest names (think Harry Potter):
3-5: In De Ploegh – In the Team
11: Den Witten Sluijer – The White Veil
29-33: De Drie Walvisschen – The Three Whales
37-39: Brouwerij Den Grooten Cruywaeghen en herberg Den Cleynen Cruywaeghen – The Big Barrow Brewery and the Small Barrow Inn
42-44: Die Drye Botten en Den Vijchboom – The Three Bones and The Figtree
Lourdaux, et al. “The Universities in the Late Middle Ages”. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1978.
“History of Universities – Volume XX/1”. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.