In the second half of the eighteenth century, Brussels and about two-thirds of modern Belgium - the Austrian Netherlands - were part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The Empress Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia was the sovereign.

In 1769 was founded a Société littéraire in Brussels under the auspices of the Earl of Cobenzl, Minister Plenipotentiary of the Empress Maria Theresa to the Prince Charles of Lorraine, Lieutenant Governor and Captain General of the Netherlands.

Three years later, the Société littéraire received from Maria Theresa, by letters patent dated December 16, 1772, the title of Académie impériale et royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres de Bruxelles, and several important privileges for the time.

Sovereign maked the new academicians responsible for leading of the country's intellectual life and for stimulating scientific research in varied fields.

No doubt the means available to them were small, but the efforts not in vain.

The Emperor Joseph II, son of Maria Theresa, honoured the Academy with his visit June 27, 1781 and his grand-son, Franz II, in April 1794.

On May 21, 1794, the Académie impériale et royale held its last meeting. The conquest of Belgium by France suspended the activities of the Company for twenty-two years.

By Royal Decree of May 17, 1816, King William I of the Netherlands recovered it under the title of Académie royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres; eight academicians from before the storm regained it up, continuing to sit in Brussels together with other Belgian and Dutch fellow members.

The Academy survived without modification the Revolution of 1830. In December 1837, the Classe des Lettres was associated with a section of Sciences morales et politiques. On December 1, 1845, the Academy was reorganized by King Leopold I, who clearly separated the Classe des Sciences from the Classe des Lettres, and added the Classe des Beaux-Arts. Since then, the Academy has the title of Académie royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique.

Legal personality was conferred by the Law of August 2, 1924.

The Law of July 1, 1971 resolved the use of languages: the language of the Academy is French.

By Order of the Government of the Communauté française de Belgique of February 12, 2009, order amending the statutes, is created the Classe Technologie et Société. By the same decree, the Classe des Beaux-Arts became the Classe des Arts.

The Academy has four Classes and each with 50 members (mostly Belgians, but also some foreigners living in Belgium) and 50 partners (mostly foreign, but also some Belgians living abroad). Since its founding, the Academy had over 2500 members and associates.

The Academy manages more than a hundred funds granting awards or grants.

In 2008, it created the Collège Belgique and the Collège des Alumni, the first providing a program of lectures, the second consisting essentially, former award winners.

The Academy publishes each year Bulletins of Class, transactions (almost 2100 in total) and series (Anciens auteurs belges, Histoire quantitative, Avicenna Latinus, Documents diplomatiques belges, Mémorial Quetelet, Mémorial Einstein, and Nouvelle Biographie nationale...).

It also organizes seminars, conferences and concerts.

Together with its Flemish equivalent, the Koninklijke Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten, it exerts its control on 25 national committees (Astronomy, Biophysics, Geography, Mathematics, Environment, Geology,...) managed by a common organization of coordination, Royal Academies for Science and the Arts (RASAB).

Also, always with Flemish equivalent, it has guardianship of the Commission royale d’Histoire (established in 1834), the Commission royale de Toponymie et Dialectologie (established in 1926) and the Institut historique belge de Rome (founded in 1902).

In addition, since 1920, the Académie royale de Belgique assumes the Union académique internationale Secretary-Generalship.

The Academy has a library with around 650,000 volumes, which is publicly accessible, archives comprising around 23,000 documents and a collection of works of art representing mainly academicians.

Three non-profit makings are dependent on the Academy, "Les Amis de la Bibliothèque et des Archives de l’Académie royale" (non-profit making created for the preservation of scientific and artistic heritage, cataloging and archiving of works, maintenance of memory of scientists and artists,...), "Les Amis de l'Académie royale de Belgique en Wallonie" (non-profit making based in Namur, created to promote the influence of the Academy in Wallonia,...), "Les Concerts de l’Académie royale"( non-profit making created for the organization of concerts, the development of the culture and aid to the Classe des Arts of the Académie royale.

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