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Mouscron (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

Moeskroen

Last modified: 2021-01-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: mouscron | dottignies | luingne |
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Flag of Mouscron - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 28 April 2005


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Presentation of Mouscron and its villages

The municipality of Mouscron (in Dutch, Moeskroen; 53,174 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 4,036 ha; municipal website) is located on the border with France, which separates it from the town of Tourcoing. The municipality of Mouscron was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Mouscron (34,213 inh.; 1,397 ha), Dottignies (7,080 inh.; 1,427 ha), Herseaux (7,952 inh.; 674 ha) and Luingne (3,286 inh.; 565 ha).

Archeological remains from the Roman times have been found in Mouscron (Mont-à-Leux). However, the name of Mouscron (maybe from mosscher-on, "a marshy place where moss grows profusely") appeared only in 1060. In 1066, the Count of Flanders granted lands in Mouscron to the St. Peter College in Lille. The church of Mouscron first belonged to the St. Bartolomew abbey in Bruges, which ceded it in 1419 to the St. Martin abbey in Tournai. The Chapter of the Cathedral of Tournai received a part of the tithe collected in Mouscron.

Mouscron belonged to the châtellenie of Kortrijk; French from 1668 (Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle) to 1678 (Treaty of Nijmegen), the town was definitively incorporated to the Low Countries in 1713 (Treaty of Utrecht). Mouscron was divided into three domains, the domain of Mouscron, depending on the feudal court of Harelbeke; the fief of Val, depending on Warcoin; and the domain belonging to St. Peter College in Lille.
The domain of Mouscron stretched over 3/4 of the parish; it belonged to the lords of Oudenaarde, a junior branch of the Leuven family. In 1332, Béatrice de Leuven sold Mouscron to Bernard de la Barre, a burgher from Tournai. By marriage, Mouscron was transferred in 1592 to the Liedekerke family. In 1627, Philippe IV of Spain made of Mouscron a County for Ferdinand-Georges de Liedekerke. The family of Liedekerke disappeared and Mouscron was transferred in 1645 to the Basta family, and later, again by marriage, to the Marquis d'Ennetières in 1682. The Ennetières family disappeared in 1875.

Around 1430, the lord of Mouscron confiscated the Ramées farm and transformed it into a castle, later the Count's castle; Mouscron incorporated the fief of Val in 1481. King Charles of Castile, later Emperor Charles V, was welcomed in the castle in 1516. The castle was abandoned by Maximilien d'Ennetières in 1720 and partially ruined. At the end of the 15th century, Mouscron was plundered by the garrison of Tournai. During the religious wars, the Hurlus briefly seized the castle in 1579 and were expelled by the Malcontents (see below). In the second half of the 17th century, Mouscron was plundered again during Louis XIV's wars. On 29 April 1794, the troops of the French Republic defeated Hanovre near Mouscron; this was the first step towards the conquest of the Low Countries, completed by the victories of Tourcoing (18 May) and Fleurus (26 June).
On 29 March 1848, a group of French and Belgian revolutionaries attempted to invade Belgium; they were stopped by General Fleury in an event known as l'échauffourée des Risquons-Tout.

Up to the middle of the 18th century, Mouscron lived mostly from agriculture. In 1769, Lille forbid the weavers from Roubaix and Tourcoing to produce swansdown, a fabric made of flax and wool. The weavers emigrated to the Austrian Low Countries, especially to Mouscron, where production of swansdown was allowed since 1758. Cloth industry developed from 1800 to 1815, with the opening of cotton factories. From 1850 onwards, the factories in the North of France lacked workers, which attracted several Flemish workers in Mouscron. Between 1890 and 1900, the French manufacturers opened factories in Mouscron, especially for the production of carpets, which fixed the weavers in Belgium and contributed to the economical boom of Mouscron. Between 1919 and 1939, residential boroughs were built in Mouscron, which is today a part of the "conurbation" of the North of France.
The population of Mouscron is mostly French-speaking (94% in 1846; 74% in 1947); therefore, on 1 September 1963, Mouscron was separated from the Flemish province of West Flanders and incorporated to the Walloon province of Hainaut, with a small increase in its territory, taken from the municipality of Rekkem (which was incorporated into Menen in 1976). Before the 1976 administrative reform, Mouscron was the largest municipality in Hainaut.

The Hurlus are celebrated on the first week-end of October. Hurlu is the name given locally to the Gueux, who attempted to propagate the Lutherian religion in Flanders. They met in Mont-à-Leux, aka Mont-des-Hurlus; the name of Hurlus comes from the French verb hurler, "to scream". The Hurlus were fiercely repressed by Duke of Alba and set up small armed troops, which plundered the Catholic possessions and scared the population. In 1578, they seized the Count's castle in Mouscron. The Walloon regiment of Malcontents (Mécontents, "unhappy"), upset by the persecution against the Catholics exerted by the Prince of Orange, besieged the castle and seized it on 24 July. Roger de Gardin, Bailiff of Mouscron, expelled the Hurlus from Kortijk. In 1582, the Hurlus were defeated in Tournai; on 22 July, they left Mouscron to attack Lille, where their adventure ended. The football team of Mouscron (Royal Excelsior) is nicknamed the Hurlus.

Herseaux ("fortified house"?) was mentioned in 1108 in the list of the goods of the church of Tournai. The village was divided between the châtellenie of Kortrijk (3/4) and the bailiwick of Tournai-Tournaisis (1/4). It constituted a single parish with two municipal councils. The municipality of Herseaux was unified in 1795 and its borders were modified in 1802.
Depending on changes in national borders, Herseaux belonged to different states: from 1435 (Treaty of Arras) to 1526 (Treaty of Madrid), Herseaux-Tournaisis belonged to French, except for a short period in 1514, when Tournaisis was transferred to the King of England. After the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, the administrative situation of Herseaux was the same as for Dottignies. Herseaux-Flanders was a free domain, depending on the castle of Kortrijk since 1412.
Herseaux was mostly an agricultural village with flax and wool weavers; there were two small cotton factories in 1815, but most of the weavers worked in the neighbouring French cities of Roubaix and Tourcoing.
The population of Herseaux is mostly French-speaking (96% in 1846; 79% in 1947); therefore, Herseaux was incorporated to the Walloon province of Hainaut in 1963.

Ivan Sache, 28 April 2005


Flag of Mouscron

The flag of Mouscron is white with a red diagonal bar bristled up with flames.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones [w2v03a], the flag, adopted on 17 July 1991 by the Municipal Council, was confirmed on 18 December 1991 by the Executive of the French Community.
The flag is a banner of the second and fourth quarters of the coat of arms of Nicolas-Ferdinand Basta, Count of Hust and Mouscron.

The municipal coat of arms of Mouscron is "Quarterly, 1. and 4. Gules a rider azure riding a horse galopant argent raising a sword of the same, 2. and 3. Argent a bar bristled with flames gules, overall an escutcheon an eagle sable crowned or". The quarters come from the arms of the family of Moradin (1 and 4), Basta (2 and 3) and Carillo? (escutcheon).
Servais [svm55] shows a coat of arms with a slightly different escutcheon, the eagle bearing an escutcheon "Argent three escutcheons azure a mullet or" (Ennetières family). It was, most probably, the municipal coat of arms of Mouscron before the merging of the municipalities.

The coat of arms of Herseaux is "Quarterly, 1. Vert a fess ermine, 2. Argent a cross gules cantoned with sixteen clovers inverted of the same, 3. Or a spread eagle sable bearing an escutcheon argent a lion sable, 4. Argent a cross azure, overall an escutcheon oval vert bordered or charged with an eagle of the same beaked and armed gules".
These are the arms of Oignies, Montmorency, Dion and Croix (canting) quartered with the Preud'homme d'Hailly escutcheon. The shield is surmounted with a crown with two florets separated by two groups of three pearls and supported by two eagles or.
The arms, granted to the municipality of Herseaux by Royal Decree on 17 November 1971, were designed after the municipal seal granted by Marquess Louis-Joseph Preud'homme d'Ailly in 1775

The unofficial coat of arms of Luingne is "Quarterly 1. and 4. Gules a rider azure riding a horse galopant argent raising a sword of the same, 2. and 3. Argent a bar bristled with flames gules, overall in base an escutcheon argent three escutcheons azure a mullet or".
These are the arms of Basta and Moradin quartered (however, the arms of Basta and Moradin seem to be swapped here compared with the flag of Mouscron!).
The very same coat of arms was granted to Aalbeke, a former municipality incorporated into Kortrijk in 1977, by Royal Decree on 29 January 1953.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 28 April 2005


Former municipalities

Dottignies

Dottignies ("Dotto's estate") was mentioned for the first time in 872. The village was shared among several jurisdictions. According to a census made in 1765, the area of the village was 1,031 bonniers: 738 depended on the châtellenie of Kortrijk, 85 on the châtellenie of Lille, 172 on the Bailiwick of Tournai-Tournaisis, while 17 constituted a franchise. In 1668, the village, along with the châtellenies of Kortrijk and Tournai, was totally transferred to France by the Treaty of Aachen; however, it was divided by a border in 1678, since the treaty of Nijmegen retroceded Tournaisis to the Low Countries. In 1713, following the Treaty of Utrecht, Dottignies was completely incorporated to the Low Countries, except the enclaves depending on the châtellenie of Lille, which became Austrian in 1769.
Dottignies was mostly an agricultural village where flax was grown. The 1840 flax crisis hit the village. In the second half of the 19th century, cloth industry redeveloped in Dottignies.
The population of Dottignies is mostly French-speaking (90% in 1846; 85% in 1947); therefore, Dottignies was incorporated to the Walloon province of Hainaut in 1963.
Every year, Dottignies celebrates the Hand's Festival; the church of Dottignies is the only one in the word, with the church of its sister village of Bonnemain (France), to have a hand instead of a rooster on its spire, an oddity whose origin is obscure. A legend reported by M. Saint-Hilaire (La Flandre mystérieuse, 1975) says that, on 20 August 1319, Robert de Béthune, Count of Flanders, was forced to cede Walloon Flanders to the king of Ftance. The angry count came back to Dottignies and was upset by the rooster, the symbol of France. He ordered to replace the rooster with a cut hand, the punishment for thieves, in order to show that the king had stolen half of his county.
[ Mouscron municipal website

The flag of Dottignies (photos) is vertically divided red-blue with greater arms of the village in the center..

The coat of arms of Dottignies is "Quarterly, 1. and 4. Azure a chevron argent in chief two stars or, 2. and 3. Gules a tower masoned sable surmounted with an eagle sable holding in dexter a crown or".
These are the arms of Bertout and Carillo quartered. The shield is surmounted by a crown with three pearls separated by two points and supported by two greyhounds argent with a collar gules (...)
The arms, granted to the municipality of Dottignies by Royal Decree on 31 May 1932, were designed after the municipal seal granted by Viscount Bertout de Carillo in 1763.

Ivan Sache, 22 April 2008


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Luingne

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Flag of Luingne - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 March 2010

Luingne ("charcoal kiln"?) completely belonged to the châtellenie of Kortrijk. Feudal geography probably explains why Luingne has kept an enclave between Mouscron and Herseaux, not connected to the rest of the municipality. The economical development of Luingne followed the developemnt of Mouscron.
The population of Luingne is mostly French-speaking (96% in 1846; 68% in 1947); therefore, Luingnes was incorporated to the Walloon province of Hainaut in 1963.

Claiming that "Luingne must be the only municipality in Belgium not to have its own flag yet" - which is most exaggerated -, Gino Vandenbulcke, President of the Festival Committee of Luingne, presented in May 2008 the new flag of Luingne, adding that "in the past, a few ponctual attempts never made their way to a flag".

The flag (photos) is vertically divided red-white with the white writing "LUINGNE" in the bottom of the red stripe and a portrait of a "Cleugnotte" in the white stripe.
Red and white are the traditional colours of Mouscron, while "Cleugnotte" is the nickname of the villagers; the "Cleugnotte" portrait comes from the Festival Committee's logo.
The flag was designed by the local historian Marcel Christiaens, who decided not to use the village's arms, deemed old-fashioned.
[Le Courrier, 6 May 2008]

In Rond Kortrijk (1904), the historian Léopold Slosse explains that the nickname of "Cleugnotte" comes from Picard cleugni d'l'eul (in French, cligner de l'œil, "to wink"). The villagers of Luingne used to wink a lot, some say when drinking, other say when cheating in card plays.

Ivan Sache, 13 March 2010