Frans Hals was born in Antwerp in 1582/83, the son of the cloth merchant Franchois Fransz. Hals from Mecheln and his second wife, Adriana (Adriaentje) van Geertenryck (or Geestenryck). After the city was taken in 1585 by Spanish-Habsburg troops, his father, a Catholic, initially enlisted in the militia, but soon fled with his family to the north. The family is first documented as residing in Haarlem on the occasion of the baptism of Frans's brother Dirck on 19 March 1591. It is possible that Frans Hals was a pupil of Karel van Mander, but this is not definitively documented. In 1610 he joined Haarlem's Guild of St Luke, in which he would hold the office of "warden" in 1644. Soon afterwards he married Anneke Harmensdr., who bore his first son, Härmen. In the following year Hals joined the St George marksmen's guild, of which he remained a member until 1624. His first wife was buried on 31 May 1615. In the following months Hals stayed in Antwerp a number of times, and on 12 February 1617 he married Lysbeth Reyniersdr. in Spaarndam. The previous year he had joined the rhetorical society 'De Wijngaardranken'; his brother Dirck and Adriaen Brouwer, also from Flanders, were members as well. Frans Hals's social standing led to important official commissions. For example, he painted a number of militia portraits, including one of his own company, and in 1633 he was given the commission for Amsterdam's 'Magere Compagnie', which he failed to complete. Up into his old age he produced group portraits of regents. Samuel Ampzing recognised Hals's extraordinary gift as a portraitist in the various editions of his 'Beschrijvinge ende lof der stad Haarlem in Holland'. Because of his advanced age, Hals was released from having to pay annual dues to the Guild of St Luke in 1661. In the following years he repeatedly applied for additional support to the City of Haarlem, which gave him an annual pension of 200 gulden. On 1 September 1666 he was buried in the choir of Haarlem's St Bavokerk. Among his pupils were Vincent Laurensz. van der Vinne, Pieter Gerritsz. van Roestraeten and - according to Cornelis de Bie - Philips Wouwerman.