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Landen (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-01-19 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Landen]

Municipal flag of Landen - Image by Filip van Laenen, 30 October 2001

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Presentation of Landen

The municipality of Landen (14,876 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 5,405 ha) is located at the extreme south-eastern point of Flemish Brabant. The municipality of Landen is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Landen (including Rumsdorp since 1971), Attenhoven (including Neerlanden since 1971), Neerwinden (including Eliksem, Ezemaal, Laar, Overwinden and Wange since 1971) and Walshoutem (including Waasmont, Walsbets and Wezeren since 1971).

Landen is the birth place of Pepin of Landen (aka Pepin the Old, Pepin the Elder; c. 580-640), son of Carloman. He became Mayor of the Palace of the Merovingian kings and was the root of the Carolingian lineage, which would later overthrow the last Merovingian kings. His daughter Begga (620-695) married Ansegisel and gave birth to Pepin of Herstal (650-714). Pepin of Landen's sister, Gertrud (626-659), also born in Landen, became the first abbess of Nivelles; as St. Gertrud, she is the patron saint of Landen. His brother Grimoald (615-656) competed for the royal crown but was murdered in Paris. The tradition says that St. Bavo (c. 622-659), the patron saint of Ghent, was the elder son of Pepin of Landen.
After the Carolingian rule, the domain of Landen was incorporated to Lotharingia and, later, to the Duchy of Brabant via the County of Leuven. In 1211, Duke Henri I granted a municipal chart to Landen, which boosted the local economy and the development of the town. Landen was located on the border with the Principality of Liège: Landen, together with Eliksem, Ezemaal, Laar, Neerwinden, Overwinden, Wange, Neerlanden, Rumsdorp and Waasmont, belonged to Brabant, whereas Walsbets, Walshoutem and Wezeren belonged to Liège. Attenhoven had a special status and was for centuries a matter of bitter dispute between Brabant and Liège.
The administrative status of Landen and the neighbouring municipalities remained unsolved for years. The Directoire rule attempted to merge the municipalities in 1799, which was reverted in 1800, with the definition of the municipal borders in 1802. A further attempt of merging failed in 1803, while Landen lost its title of town by the Decree of the 24 Prairial of the Year III (13 June 1795). After the reincorporation to the Netherlands in 1815, Landen should have been allocated to the newly formed Province of Liège. Nothing really happened until the independence of Belgium in 1830, when attempts to merge the municipalities still failed. Under the German rule, Landen was incorporated into the Province of Limburg on 13 March 1918, by a Decree which was never applied. On 13 December 1951, the Harmel Commission recommended the transfer of Landen from Liège to the Province of Brabant, which became official on 1 September 1963. Landen was granted back the title of town by Royal Decree on 5 June 1985. All that administrative "mess" explains why Landen is self-styled "The Four Provinces' Town" (Brabant, Liège, Limburg and Flemish Brabant).

Neerwinden was the place of two famous battles.
On 29 July 1693, during the War of the Grand Alliance (Nine Years' War), the French army, commanded by Marshal of Luxembourg (9,000 dead), defeated the allied (Dutch, German, British and Spanish) armies commanded by William of Orange (18,000 dead). The French could harldy profit of the victory because of the high number of casualties.
On 18 March 1793, the Austrian army commanded by Prince of Cobourg defeated the French army commanded by General Dumouriez. The unexperienced and desorganized French revolutionary troops could not cope with the several fronts set up by the Austrians; after the disaster, the revolutionary army was disbanded and completely reorganized, which allowed the conquest of the Low Countries in 1794.

Source: Geschied- and Heemkundige Kring van Landen website - text by A. L'Homme

Ivan Sache, 12 August 2007

Municipal flag of Landen

The municipal flag of Landen is horizontally divided white-black-red.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 20 December 1985, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 10 December 1986 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 3 December 1987.
The colours of the flag are taken from the municipal arms.

The municipal arms of Landen are shown on the municipal website. They show on a white field two green trees on a green terrace flanking an escutcheon argent a lion double-tailed sable armed and langued gules (from which the colours of the flag were obviously taken). There is a forearm, clothed and holding a charter, all gold, above the escutcheon.
According to Servais, the escutcheon shows the arms granted to Landen by Royal Decree on 22 February 1936, after the oldest known representation of the municipal arms in colour, dated 1529. Which lion should be represented is not known: seals from the XIIIth century show either the lion of Brabant or the lion of Limburg, with a forked tail, the latter being also shown on a XVth-century seal. The modern lion still has a forked tail, but it is black instead of red like the genuine lion of Limburg.

Pascal Vagnat, Jan Mertens & Ivan Sache, 14 August 2007