Welcome to the website of Museum Zwanenbroedershuis, the residence of the "Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap" (Confraternity of the Illustrious Lady), founded in 1318 and ever since established in ‘s Hertogenbosch. Although this magnificent house that has been built by the confraternity was finished only in 1847, they have been seated at this location already since 1483.
In 1318 the official foundation of the Confraternity took place in ‘s Hertogenbosch in the veneration of Mary. The original act of foundation still exists and is stored in the archives of the Confraternity.
The members of the Brotherhood gathered in their own chapel in the St Jan Church; here they celebrated the vespers. They have built a new chapel twice, the most recent one is the current Chapel of the Holy Sacraments next to the choir. Besides the veneration of Mary the Confraternity cared for the poor. Moreover, starting from the 14th century the Brotherhood contributed to the development of ‘s Hertogenbosch as the center of late medieval music. In the 15th century the number of members expanded significantly covering Belgium and Germany. However in the 16th century the number of members decreased drastically while the element of devotion lost its meaning partially.
Gatherings for meals and music at the Zwanenbroedershuis became more important. A number of famous persons were member of the Confraternity, such as William Prince of Orange (1533-1584), the first Dutch Stadtholder and the painter Jheronimus Bosch. Furthermore important Dutch families such as Van Nassau, Van Egmond, Van Wassenaer, Van Brederode, Bronkhorst en Van Bylandt were represented in this Confraternity.
During the Eighty Years’ War or Dutch War of Independence (1568–1648) the Confraternity experienced difficult times. However due to the capture of ‘s Hertogenbosch in 1629 by Frederick Henry Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau, the third Stadtholder, the Confraternity still exists. In 1641 the governor of ‘s Hertogenbosch and some of his friends requested admittance. Their request was honoured. New statutes were written and established, which amongst others determined that the Confraternity from then on shall comprise of 18 Roman Catholic and 18 Protestant Brothers. Until this very moment this is still valid. Next to these 36 Brothers the Brotherhood appoints a number of candidate members.