Last modified: 2015-07-28 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Froidchapelle - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 3 February 2007
The municipality of Froidchapelle (3,609 inhabitants on 1 July 2007; 8,676 ha) is located in the middle of the "Boot" of Hainaut, a 20-km wide stripe of land flanked by France and the Province of Namur. The municipality of Froidchapelle is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Froid-Chapelle (note the change in spelling; including Fourbechies since 1964), Boussu-lez-Walcourt, Erpion, and Vergnies. The five artificial lakes of the Eau d'Heure (600 ha spread over a 1,800-ha area) form together the biggest artificial lake in Belgium.
Boussu-les-Walcourt has its name derived from the Latin word buxus or
buxetum, "box" (in French, buis; in Dutch, buks) or "boxwood". The
place was already settled in the Prehistoric times: tools made of cut
(Paelolithic) or smooth (Neolithic) stone have been found. Local
toponyms, such as the Grand Marchet and the Petit Marchet, recall
Celtic settlements. A marchet is the local name for a tumulus made of
middle-sized stone, dedicated to a ruler: such tumuli were very common
in the region but agriculture suppressed all of them in Boussu. Remains
of a big Roman villa were found at the Grand Marchet: the villa was
most probably owned by a rich landlord involved in trade, agriculture
and preindustry. An early community must have set up around the villa.
A Merovingian necropolis was found at Petit Marchet, with several arms,
jewels, vases and medals shown today in the Archeological Museum of
Boussu was mentioned for the first time in 1311; it belonged then to the Country of Barbençon, made of the villages of Barbençon, Boussu, Erpion and Vergnies. The former municipality of Barbençon was incorporated into Beaumont in 1976. The Country of Barbençon was one of the twelve Pairies of the County of Hainaut; it became a Principality in 1614. The Country of Barbençon belonged to the Barbençon de Boussu family until the XVIIIth century and was later transfered to the Ligne, Desmanet and Hénin. Boussu was granted a municipal chart in 1458. In 1678, the Treaty of Nijmegen allocated the Provostship of Maubeuge, including the Country of Barbençon, to France. After the French Revolution and the conquest of Belgium, the four villages asked to remain in the "French" department of Nord. Boussu and the villages forming the former Principality of Barbençon were reallocated to the Netherlands on 14 January 1816, although the Treaty of Paris did not mention them. In 1830, the réunionniste movement asked for the reincorporation of the villages to France; a petition was sent in 1831 to the French National Assembly, to no avail. The four Belgian villages, however, still belonged to the Diocese of Cambrai, in France, and were transferred to the Diocese of Tournai, in Belgium, only in 1889.
As a crossing point, Boussu was the place of three battles. On 25 August 1689, during the League of Augsburg's War, the Dutch commanded by Prince of Waldeck stopped the French on their way to Germany; on 4 July 1693, during the same war, the French commanded by Count of Vertillac won a battle on the same place. On 26 April 1794, the French revolutionary Army of the Ardennes, marching against Beaumont, attacked an Austrian detachment, which had to withdraw and to abandon 400 killed.
Boussu has a long industrial tradition. The forges of Boussu, located in the hamlets of Féronval and Falemprise, worked until 1886. There were also blue stone and marble quarries, sawmills, stone mills and potteries. Production of carded and mattress wool was also important in the XVII-XVIIIth century, employing up to 80 workers.
Fourbechies (Fulbertiacum, "Fulbert's estate") seceded from Froid-Chapelle
on 2 June 1868 to form an independent municipality, which was
reincorporated into Froidchapelle on 1 January 1965. An anthem was
composed to celebrate the "independence" of the village:
À d'autres, la haute industrie !
À d'autres, le fer, le charbon !
La richesse de Fourbechies
Gît à la prairie, au sillon.
Des champs, le labeur, la tâche utile
Sera toujours le meilleur des états.
Oui, rendre la terre fertile
Vaut bien mieux que d'être soldats !
(To others the big industry! To others iron and coal! The richness of Fourbechies Lies in the meadow, in the furrow. Work and useful task Shall always be the better use of the fields. Yes, making the land fertile Is much more worth than being soldiers!)
There was indeed no industry in the village in 1896 but only a few home-working craftsmen. The main crop was grains, which were progressively replaced with pastures and dairy cows short before the First World War.
Vergnies, where Roman coins portraying emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius (IInd century) were found, was part of the principality of Barbençon. Vergnies is the birth village of Émile Galet, who was Aide-de-camp of King Albert I from 1912 to 1918, Commander in the Royal Military College in 1919 and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces in 1926; and of the composer François-Jospeh Gossec (1734-1829). Gossec spent all his carreer in Paris; he was appointed Director of the Royal School of Singing in 1784, then Chief of the Band of the National Guard during the French Revolution. Gossec was one of the founders of the Conservatoire national, where he taught composition. He became a kind of officiel musician of the Revolution and wrote several anthems, marchs and choirs, including the Marche lugubre, which probably inspired Beethoven's Heroic Symphony.
Source: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 3 February 2007
The municipal flag of Froidchapelle is quartered, I and IV white with
three red waves, II and III white with three red oak leaves.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 8 March 1999 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 30 April 1999, with the following description:
Écartelé, le premier et le quatrième quartiers blancs à trois laizes ondées rouges, le deuxième et le troisième quartiers blancs chargés de trois feuilles de chêne rouges 2 et 1, la première et la troisième posées en oblique descendants, la deuxième en oblique montante.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.
The arms of Froidchapelle are an elegant derivation from the arms of
the former municipality of Froid-Chapelle, granted by Royal Decree on 6 February 1913 and shown by Servais as "Quarterly, I and IV argent three fesses gules, II and III argent three
axes gules". These are the well-known arms of the Croÿ-Renty family.
In the arms of Froidchapelle, the fesses were changed to wavy stripes, most probably recalling the lakes of the Eau d'Heure, and the axes were changed to oak leaves, most probably recalling the forest environment of Froidchapelle.
Source: Princess Marie-Dorothée (Mimi) de Croÿ website
The Croÿ island (700 ha), located in the Kerguelen archipelago was named in 1773 by Yves Joseph de Kerguelen de Trémarec after Duke of Croÿ, one of the sponsors of the expedition in the southern seas. It is one of the only big islands of the archipelago when no exotic plant or animal was ever introduced.
The arms of Croÿ were used by the municipality of Solre-Saint-Géry
(Beaumont); they appear on the municipal flags of Bever and Londerzeel
(via Malderen). They
appear on the old arms of Saint-Vaast (La Louvière) and Senzeilles (Cerfontaine).
In France, the arms of Croÿ are used by the municipalities of Bermerain, Lez-Fontaines-et-Solrinnes and Hervelinghen. They appear on the arms of Avesnelles and were the former arms of Landrecies. They also appear on several monuments in Belgium, for instance on the chapel of Havré (Mons), the baptismal font of Rêves (Les Bons Villers), and a fireplace in the castle of Gerpinnes (today the town hall).
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 6 July 2007