Famous Belgian Intellectuals & Academics

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 1 
Abraham Ortelius
(Cartographer)
Abraham Ortelius
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Birthdate: April 14, 1527
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Antwerp
Died: June 28, 1598
 2 
Moncef Slaoui
(Who served as the Head of Operation Warp Speed)
Moncef Slaoui
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Birthdate: July 22, 1959
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Agadir, Morocco
 3 
Gerardus Mercator
(Geographer)
Gerardus Mercator
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Birthdate: March 5, 1512
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rupelmonde, Kruibeke, Belgium
Died: December 2, 1594

Son of a shoemaker, Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator was initially supposed to be a priest. His 1569 world map paved the path for the Mercator projection, which helped people ascertain the exact ratio of latitude and longitude of a particular place. He also coined the term “atlas.”

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 4 
Herman Van Rompuy
(Politician, Economist)
Herman Van Rompuy
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Birthdate: October 31, 1947
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Etterbeek

Belgian politician and former prime minister of Belgium Herman Van Rompuy has also served as the President of the European Council. Initially an economist at the National Bank of Belgium, he later joined the Christian Democratic Party and eventually led it as its president. He has also been the Belgian budget minister.

 5 
Henri Pirenne
(medievalist, historian, university teacher)
Henri Pirenne
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Birthdate: December 23, 1862
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Verviers
Died: October 25, 1935
 6 
Paul de Man
(Philosopher, University teacher, Literary critic, Journalist)
Paul de Man
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Birthdate: December 6, 1919
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Antwerp
Died: December 21, 1983
 7 
Chantal Mouffe
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Birthdate: June 17, 1943
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Charleroi, Belgium
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 8 
Koenraad Elst
(Columnist, Anthropologist, Journalist, Writer)
Koenraad Elst
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Birthdate: August 7, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Leuven
 9 
Ernest Mandel
(One of the Most Significant Marxist Economists and Holocaust Survivor)
Ernest Mandel
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Birthdate: April 5, 1923
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: July 20, 1995

Ernest Mandel was a Belgian Trotskyist activist and theorist, Marxian economist, and Holocaust survivor. During the German occupation of Belgium, Mandel fought against the Nazis in the underground resistance. He served as an editor of Het Vrije Woord, an underground newspaper during the Second World War. During his life, Mandel published some 30 books and 2,000 articles in various languages.

 10 
Bart De Wever
(Columnist, Politician, Historian)
Bart De Wever
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Birthdate: December 21, 1970
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Mortsel

Bart De Wever is a Belgian politician who has been serving as the leader of the nationalist and conservative political party, New Flemish Alliance, since 2004. In 2007, he played an important role in the Belgian government formation. Since 2013, Bart De Wever has also been serving as the Mayor of Antwerp.  

 11 
Alice von Hildebrand
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Birthdate: March 11, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
 12 
Justus Lipsius
(Philosopher)
Justus Lipsius
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Birthdate: October 18, 1547
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Overijse, Belgium
Died: March 23, 1606
 13 
Emmanuel de Merode
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Birthdate: May 5, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Carthage, Tunisia
 14 
Paul Otlet
(Writer, Lawyer, Librarian, Scientist, Inventor, Bibliographer)
Paul Otlet
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Birthdate: August 23, 1868
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brussels
Died: December 10, 1944
 15 
Fernand Khnopff
(Painter, Sculptor, Photographer, Philosopher, Writer)
Fernand Khnopff
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Birthdate: September 12, 1858
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dendermonde
Died: November 12, 1921

Fernand Khnopff was a Belgian painter whose works gained him recognition and helped achieve a cult status during his lifetime. He was honored with the prestigious Order of Leopold for his immense contribution to Symbolism.

 16 
Philippe Van Parijs
(Philosopher, Economist, University teacher)
Philippe Van Parijs
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Birthdate: May 23, 1951
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brussels
 17 
Edward Schillebeeckx
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Birthdate: November 12, 1914
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium
Died: December 23, 2009
 18 
Isabelle Stengers
(Philosopher)
Isabelle Stengers
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Birthdate: 1949 AD
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
 19 
Godfried Danneels
(Theologian, University teacher, Catholic priest)
Godfried Danneels
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Birthdate: June 4, 1933
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tielt

Godfried Danneels was a Belgian cardinal who worked for the Roman Catholic Church. From 1979 to 2010, he served as the chairman of the episcopal conference of Belgium and the Metropolitan Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels. As primate of Belgium, Godfried Danneels officiated at several Royal baptisms, funerals, and marriages at the royal court.

 20 
Albert Claude
(Cell Biologist)
Albert Claude
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Birthdate: August 24, 1899
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Longlier, Neufchâteau, Belgium
Died: May 22, 1983
Born to a baker father, Nobel Prize-winning cell biologist Albert Claude had lost his mother to cancer as a child. He had served the British Intelligence Service during World War I. He used the electron microscope in biology for the first time and also discovered several components of the cell.
 21 
Chaïm Perelman
(Former Philosopher whose chief work was the Traité de l'argumentation – la nouvelle rhétorique (1958), with Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca)
Chaïm Perelman
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Birthdate: May 20, 1912
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Died: January 22, 1984

Chaïm Perelman was a Polish-born philosopher of law who spent most of his life in Brussels, Belgium. He is counted amongst the most important argumentation theorists of the 20th century. He studied at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and was appointed a lecturer in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the same institute. He was married to Fela Perelman. 

 22 
Karel van Mander
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Birthdate: 1548
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Meulebeke, Belgium
Died: September 2, 1606

Dutch painter and poet Karel van Mander was a significant part of the Mannerist movement. Best known for his Het Schilder-boeck, or The Book of Painters, a biographical work on artists and painters of northern Europe, he was patronized by the Haarlem city council.

 23 
Eliane Karp
(Anthropologist)
Eliane Karp
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Birthdate: September 24, 1953
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France

Born to a Polish father and a Belgian mother in Paris, anthropologist and academic Eliane Karp later studied in Jerusalem, before moving to Stanford. The wife of former president of Peru Alejandro Toledo, she was dragged out of court, while cursing, after Toledo was denied bail in a bribery case.

 24 
Simon Leys
(Writer)
Simon Leys
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Birthdate: September 28, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: August 11, 2014
 25 
Julien Ries
(University teacher, Historian of religion, Historian, Catholic priest)
Julien Ries
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Birthdate: April 19, 1920
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Fouches
Died: February 23, 2013
 26 
Alexandre Lamfalussy
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Birthdate: April 26, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kapuvár, Hungary
Died: May 9, 2015

Hungarian banker and economist Alexandre Lamfalussy was not just an Oxford doctorate but had also taught at institutes such as Yale. He was also associated with the Bank for International Settlements and was the Frankfurt-based European Monetary Institute’s first president. He had also been a BIS economic advisor.

 27 
Franz Cumont
(Archaeologist)
Franz Cumont
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Birthdate: January 3, 1868
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Aalst, Belgium
Died: August 20, 1947
 28 
Ovide Decroly
(Teacher)
Ovide Decroly
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Birthdate: July 23, 1871
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ronse, Belgium
Died: September 10, 1932
 29 
Robert Triffin
(Economist)
Robert Triffin
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Birthdate: October 5, 1911
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Flobecq, Belgium
Died: February 23, 1993
 30 
Camille Gutt
(First Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 6 May 1946 to 5 May 1951)
Camille Gutt
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Birthdate: November 14, 1884
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: June 7, 1971

Camille Gutt was a Belgian politician, economist, and industrialist. He is best remembered for designing a monetary reform plan that helped recover the Belgian economy post World War II. Camille Gutt also played an important role in the development of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), serving as its first Managing Director from 1946 to 1951.

 31 
Suzanne Lilar
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Birthdate: May 21, 1901
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ghent, Belgium
Died: December 11, 1992
 32 
Philippe Moureaux
(University teacher, Politician, Historian, Economist)
Philippe Moureaux
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Birthdate: April 12, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Etterbeek

One of the most prominent figures of Belgian politics, Philippe Moureaux also taught economic history at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. A Socialist Party politician, he had been the minister of the interior, the minister of justice, and the Minister-President of the French Community. He received a Belgian knighthood, among other honors.

 33 
Denis the Carthusian
(Flemish theologian)
Denis the Carthusian
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Birthdate: 1402 AD
Birthplace: Ryckel, Belgium
Died: March 12, 1471
 34 
Martin Delrio
(Former Theologian known for His six-volume work Magical Investigations)
Martin Delrio
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Birthdate: May 17, 1551
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium
Died: October 19, 1608
Philips of Marnix, Lord of Saint-Aldegonde
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Birthdate: 1538 AD
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: December 15, 1598

Dutch poet Philips of Marnix is best remembered for his translation of the Psalms. He managed to anger the Roman Catholics with his works such as The Beehive of the Roman Catholic Church and thus spent a year as a prisoner. It’s believed that he wrote the Dutch national anthem, Wilhelmus van Nassouwe.

 36 
Johan Vandewalle
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Birthdate: February 15, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bruges, Belgium
 37 
Jean Le Bel
(Chronicler)
Jean Le Bel
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Birthdate: 1290 AD
Birthplace: Flanders, Belgium
Died: February 15, 1370
 38 
Jacob van Maerlant
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Birthdate: 1230 AD
Birthplace: Belgium
Died: 1300 AD
 39 
Jef van de Wiele
(Politician)
Jef van de Wiele
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Birthdate: July 20, 1903
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Deurne, Antwerp, Belgium
Died: September 4, 1979

Jef van de Wiele was a Belgian Flemish politician who gained notoriety as the leader of a pro-Nazi wing during the Nazi occupation of Belgium. A staunch supporter of Adolf Hitler, Van de Wiele co-founded and edited a magazine named Nieuw Vlaanderen, which spread and promoted Nazism during the Second World War.

 40 
José Comblin
(Theologian)
José Comblin
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Birthdate: March 22, 1923
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: March 27, 2011

José Comblin was a theologian. He has a doctorate in theology from the Catholic University of Leuven. He worked as an advisor to the Young Catholic Workers and was a professor at the Dominican Theological School in São Paulo. He played a major role in the creation of rural seminaries in Pernambuco and Paraíba. He authored around 65 books. 

 41 
Sigebert Of Gembloux
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Birthdate: 1030 AD
Birthplace: Brabant, Belgium
Died: October 5, 1112
 42 
Jean Bolland
(Priest)
Jean Bolland
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Birthdate: August 18, 1596
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Herve, Belgium
Died: September 12, 1665
 43 
Michael Baius
(Theologian)
Michael Baius
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Birthdate: 1513 AD
Birthplace: Melin, France
Died: September 16, 1589
Georges Chastellain
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Birthdate: 1405 AD
Birthplace: Aalst, Belgium
Died: March 20, 1475
 45 
Raymond W. Goldsmith
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Birthdate: December 23, 1904
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hamden, Connecticut, United States
Died: July 12, 1988
 46 
Wenceslas Cobergher
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Birthdate: 1560 AD
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium
Died: November 23, 1634

Wenceslas Cobergher was a Flemish engineer, architect, painter, numismatist, antiquarian, and economist. He is best remembered for overseeing the draining of De Moeren on the Franco-Belgian border. Wenceslas Cobergher is also credited with introducing to the Southern Netherlands the Flemish Baroque style of architecture.

 47 
René Kalisky
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Birthdate: July 20, 1936
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: May 6, 1981
 48 
Cyriel Buysse
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Birthdate: September 20, 1859
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nevele, Belgium
Died: July 25, 1932
 49 
William of Moerbeke
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Birthdate: 1215 AD
Birthplace: Geraardsbergen, Belgium
Died: 1286 AD

William of Moerbeke was a translator best remembered for translating important scientific, medical, and philosophical written materials from Greek to Latin. He is credited with translating some of Aristotle's works, including Politics. William of Moerbeke's translations were influential and his works are still revered by modern scholars.

 50 
Alfons Verplaetse
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Birthdate: February 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Zulte, Belgium
Died: October 15, 2020