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Florennes (Municipality, Province of Namur, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-06-21 by ivan sache
Keywords: florennes | alerions: 3 (white) | lorraine |
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[Flag of Florennes]         [Proposal of flag of Florennes]

Municipal flag of Florennes - Images by Arnaud Leroy, 20 February 2007
Left, flag in use
Right, official flag, not in use


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Presentation of Florennes and its villages

The municipality of Florennes (10,825 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 13,355 ha) is located 30 km west of Namur and 30 km south-east of Charleroi, in the hilly region of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse, which is limited by the rivers Sambre and Meuse. The municipality of Florenne is made since 1976 of the former rural municipalities of Florennes, Corenne, Flavion, Hanzinelle, Hanzinne, Hemptinne, Morialmé, Morville, Rosée, Saint-Aubin and Thy-le-Bauduin.

Florennes (3,793 inh.; 2,853 ha; 250-312 m asl) is located in a chalky basin. The village was probably named after the Latin word flos, a flower; others have related Florennes to the Gallo-Roman anthroponyms Florinus and Florus.
The abbey of Florennes was founded in 1012, with Richard de Saint-Vanne as its first Abbot. In 1015, the abbey was transfererd to the church of Liège by Bishop Gérard de Cambrai; the abbey church was consecrated in 1026. The early history of the abbey is known via the Miracula S. Gengulfi, written in 1028/1045 by Abbot Gonzon. The abbey was completely destroyed during the French Revolution.
Florennes is the place of one of the famous "folkloric marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse". The exact origin of the Sts. Peter and Paul's March is not known, but the registers of the abbey of Florennes list money granted to the soldiers of the garrison of Philippeville (1562) and to the militians of Florennes (1615) for their contribution to the St. John-the-Baptist's procession. The march was forbidden by the Dutch administration but a march was organized in 1824 by the church, the burghers and the municipal administration of Florennes; the first modern march of Florennes is dated 1825. The two local "companies" are called les Blancs (the White) and les Rouges (the Reds). The two companies were formed after the scission of the municipal band for political reasons into the Catholic Harmonie Sainte-Cécile and the Liberal Lyre Ouvrière; since the two new bands wanted to contribute to the march, it was decided to form two companies, the original Compagnie Saint-Pierre being renamed les Blancs, whereas the new company was named les Rouges and was designed a new uniform with red trousers. By drawing lots, Sainte-Cécile was allocated to the Rouges and Lyre Ouvrière to the Blancs.
The Air Force base Jean Offenberg is located in Florennes. The airfield was built by the Germans in 1942 for the Luftwaffe; it was liberated in 1944 by the US 1st Division (The Big Red One) and used by the US Air Force 344th Group until the end of the Second World War. In 1947, Florennes was transferred to the Belgian Air Force and settled by the 2nd Wing; in 1970, the unit was renamed 2nd Wing Tactic after having been supplied with Mirage.

Corenne (294 inh.; 702 ha; 250-295 m asl) is located on the left (northern) bank of the brooks Flavion and Louchenée. The village was named after a hazel tree (in Latin, corylus) wood. It was mentioned for the first time in 1015 in Arnould de Rumigny's testament. The village was ruled by the abbey of Florennes and depended on the Pricnipality of Liège.

Flavion (621 inh.; 1,387 ha; 240-300 m asl) is located on the left (northern) bank of the brook Flavion. Human bones from the Prehistoric times have been found in Flavion, as well as remains of an important Roman settlement located on the Bavay-Trier Roman way. In the Middle Ages, Flavion belonged to the County of Montaigle; it was the seat of a municipality including Rosée, Fecheroulle and Hayée, which had its own Law instead of the Law of Namur.

Hanzinelle (451 inh.; 752 ha; 210-270 m) depended in the past of the neighbouring village of Hanzinne. It is the birth village (1704) of the baroque architect Jean-Baptiste Chermanne, who designed the church of Laneffe (1740) and revamped the collegiate church of Florennes (1756) and the ancient church of Hanzinelle (1736); Chermanne was also a contractor and built the St. Aubin church in Namur after Pisoni's plans (1751-1760). In the beginning of the XVIIIth century, the powerful Puissant family, owner of several ironworks on the region, set up in the valley of brook Ry Massart several ponds in order to wash the iron ore extracted from the neighbouring mines. Around 1765, the Puissant built a rectangular manor near the biggest pond; the manor was purchased in 1880 by Mrs. Émile Pirmze, whose descendants, Baron Jacques Fallon and Madame, still live in the castle. There were also stone quarries in Hanzinelle, which is a typical example of pre-industrial village.

Hanzinne (842 inh.; 895 ha; 200-266 m asl) is located in the north of the municipality and of the Province of Namur. The northern limit of the village follows the watersheds that seprates Namur from Hainaut. Hanzinne, known as Hencinius in the XIth century, might have been named after the Germanic words ham and coenum, meaning "a peaty place". The village was ruled by the lord of Morialmé on behalf of the St. Médard abbey in Soissons.

Hemptinne (288 inh.; 687 ha; 225-280 m asl) is located on the Florennes-Philippeville road. The village was known in 1015 as Haimantina; it belonged to Florennes and therefore to the Principality of Liège. Due to its location, the village was often sacked during wars and local conflicts.

Morialmé (1,551 inh.; 1,021 ha; 200-271 m asl) was known in 1086 as Maurelli Mansus ("Maurel's estate"), and later as Morellimanus and Morelmes. The village depended in the Principality of Liège and was ruled by the Rumigny-Florennes and Brias families.

Morville (610 inh.; 1,456 ha; 120-300 m asl) is the easternmost village of Florennes. The name of Morville comes from Mauri Villa, in Latin, "Mauritius' estate". Remains of a Gallo-Roman villa were indeed found in the Ladies' Wood located between Morville and Soulme. The estate was an ironworks part of a pre-industrial network of 15 workshops spreading over the villages of Anhée, Flavion and Soulme. The workshop of Morville was made of six ovens, 1.45 x 0.7 m in size. The forge of Morville still existed in the XVIIth century. Morville was an independent municipality for only 85 years, since it seceded from Anhée in 1892.

Rosée (674 inh.; 1,605 ha; 230-312 m asl) was known in the XIth century as Roseis. The name of the village probably comes from Germanic rausiacum, "a place planted with reeds" (in French, roseaux). A more poetic explanation relates the name of the village to the dew (in French, rosée) released on the marshy lands of the village.

Saint-Aubin (724 inhabitants; 1,336 ha; 230-290 m asl) is located on the two banks of the brook Eau d'Yves. The village was named around 900 after it became a parish dedicated to St. Aubin, Bishop of Angers; the former name of the village has been lost.
St. Aubin, aka Albin (d. 550) came from Vannes (Britanny) to the abbey of Nantilly, near Saumur (Anjou). He was later appointed Bishop of Angers and is still the patron saint of the town. He called the third Council of Orléans and reformed the Frankish church. He opposed the violent lords of the times, who did not hesitate to marry their own daughter or sister, with the silent complicity of the scared bishops. St. Aubin is celebrated on 1 March, with the following dictum: Quand il pleut à la Saint Aubin, il n'y aura ni lin ni foin (Rain on St. Aubin's day means neither flax nor hay).

Thy-le-Bauduin (431 inh.; 378 ha; 190-260 m) belonged for ages to the neighbouring village of Hanzinne, as confirmed by medieval charts. The name of the village comes from the brook Thyria, which waters it. The name "Bauduin" might be an anthroponym but also a derived form from esbaudissement, the medieval right to have a kermis. In Old French, baud means "merry", derived as balt (Chanson de Roland, 1080) from Frankish bald.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 20 February 2007


Municipal flag of Florennes

The municipal flag in use in Florennes is a simple vertically divided red-white flag, as shown on the upper right corner of the frontpage of the municipal website.

According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community proposed a muncipal flag for Florennes, as:
Blanc à une laize diagonale descendante rouge de largeur égale aux 3/5e du guindant, chargée de trois alérions blancs.
The proposed flag of Florennes is white with a red diagonal charged with three white alerions.
The flag is a modification of the banner of arms of Lorraine, also supposed to recall the Air Force Base of Florennes.

The arms of Lorraine in their true colours appears as two escutcheons on the proposed municipal coat of arms:
De gueules à une tour à toit pointu surmontée d'un trèfle et flanquée de deux tourelles à toit pointu, dans une enceinte fortifiée posée sur une terrasse, le tout d'argent, accosté de deux écussons d'or à la bande de gueules chargée de trois alérions d'argent.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 20 February 2007