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Etterbeek (Municipality, Region of Brussels-Capital, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-11-03 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Etterbeek]

Municipal flag of Etterbeek - Image by Ivan Sache, 25 January 2003

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Presentation of Etterbeek

The municipality of Etterbeek (42,342 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 315 ha; therefore one of the smallest but most densely populated municipalities in Brussels) is one of the 19 bilingual municipalities forming the Region of Brussels-Capital.

Etterbeek was mentioned for the first time in 1127 as Ietrebecca, later written Itrebeek, Jetterbeke etc.. Etterbeek most probably means "a lively brook", after the Celtic roots ett and beek. In the ancient times, Etterbeek was not part of Brussels; the municipal magistrates of Brussels could only percieve tax on beer, only from 1312 onwards. In 1489, Albert of Saxony, fighting against the States of Flanders, plundered the village. The so-called "old Etterbeek" was definitively destroyed by the Iconoclasts in 1580. In 1602, under the peaceful rule of Archdukes Albert and Isabel, the sources of Broebelaer were harnessed to supply the artificial fountains of the botanical and zoological garden of the Dukes of Brabant in Coudenberg. Etterbeek was then a domain but depended on the Mayor of Sint-Genesius-Rode and of the magistrates of Watermael, who had jurisdiction over Boitsfort, Auderghem, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Stockel and Kraainem.
In 1673, King of Spain Charles II made of Etterbeek a Barony granted to Don Diego-Henriquez de Castro, Councillor at the Court of the Chamber of Accounting and at the War Council, also Treasurer General of the armies of the Low Countries. In 1767, the Barony was sold to Pierre Cludts. The Castro manor, built in 1680, is today the oldest house in Etterbeek.
In the beginning of the XXth century, Etterbeek, still a rural village, was completely urbanized.

Etterbeek is the birth town of the two giants of the Belgian cartoon school, Hergé (Georges Rémy, 1907-1983, the father of Tintin and Snowy) and André Franquin (1924-1997, the father of Gaston Lagaffe, Zorglub and the Marsupilami and the less-known inventor of the "Gloomy Thoughts"). Edgar-Pierre Jacobs (1904-1987, the father of Blake and Mortimer, lived from 1911 to 1930 in Etterbeek, close to Franquin's birth house; then he married and moved to Lille where he started his first artist's career as a barytone.
The painter and sculptor Constantin Meunier (1831-1905) was born in Etterbeek, where he spent most of his life. In 1870, he abandoned painting for sculpture and started his allegoric representations of workers (La descente des mineurs dans la fosse - The descent of the miners into the shaft). The novelist François Weyergans was born in 1941 in Etterbeek; he was awarded the Goncourt Prize in 2005 for his book Trois jours chez ma mère.
The painter and decorator Paul Cauchie (1875-1952) built in 1905 in Etterbeek the house known today as the Cauchie House. Together with his wife Caroline Voets, aka Lina, he decorated the facade of the house in the Art Nouveau style, using the antique technique of sgraffite. They also designed the inside decoration, the furniture, the lamps etc. The house was saved from destruction by Léo and Guy Dessicy, who purchased the house in 1980 and completely restored it.
It would be very unfair not to mention that the singer Lara Fabian was born, as Lara Crockaert, in 1970 in Etterbeek.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 1 July 2007

Municipal flag of Etterbeek

The municipal flag of Etterbeek is vertically divided blue-white.
The colours are most probably derived from the municipal arms, which were, according to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, adopted by the Municipal Council on 8 May 1911, confirmed by Royal Decree on 5 November 1913 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 28 November 1913, as Parti, au premier d'azur semé de fleurs de lys d'argent; au deuxième de gueules à une fasce d'argent (Per pale azure semé of fleur de lis argent gules a fess argent).

According to Servais, the arms of Etterbeek are based on the arms of the St. Gertrud abbey in Nivelles, which owned the church of Etterbeek and several other possessions. St. Gertrud herself is the legendary founder of the primitive chapel of Etterbeek. The arms of the abbey are a combination of the French royal and Austrian arms, but the origin of this combination is not known.
The municipal website of Nivelles recalls, however, that the heraldist René Goffin had written in 1926 that the sinister part of the arms of the abbey are the traditional arms of Lothier / Lower Lotharingia / Leuven.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 1 July 2007