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Frameries (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Frameries]

Municipal flag of Frameries - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 13 January 2007

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Presentation of Frameries and its villages

The municipality of Frameries (20,279 inhabitants on 1 July 2007; 2,905 ha) is located between Mons and the border with France, in the region of Borinage. The municipality of Frameries is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Frameries, Eugies (except a part incorporated into Colfontaine), La Bouverie, Noirchain and Sars-La-Bruyère.

Frameries was probably named after the Gallo-Roman landowner Framaric. In the VIIth century, the domain of Frameries belonged to Walbert, father of Waudru, the founder of a powerful abbey around 649 on the desert heights of Castricolus (today's Mons). St. Waudru was the patron saint of Frameries, whose church belonged to the St. Waudru Chapter in Mons. The Chapter Street (rue du chapitre) recalls that the St. Waudru Chapter owned in Frameries a big estate, covering some 100 ha. The manager of the estate was also the maïeur, the mayor of the domain, who, however, needed the authorization of the magistrates (échevins) of the domain, appointed by the Count of Hainaut, to sign a document. After Waudru's death, Bishop of Cambrai Aubert II (d. 965) built a primitive church, which he granted in the Xth century to the St. Waudru abbey, as confirmed in a bull signed by Pope Lucius III on 18 February 982. The village that developed around the church is the origin of modern Frameries. The oldest known mention of Frameries is to be found in St. Ghislain's life, a manuscript (c. 1000) kept in the University Library of Mons.
The western part of today's Frameries belonged to the domain of Lambrechies (Landaberthiacas, "Lambert's domain"), that spread over La Bouverie and Quaregnon. This domain had a specific status: the villagers were free, exempted of corvée, and were not forced to use the lord's mill and oven. The maïeur and the échevins had their own ferme (archive coffer) kept separately in the church of Frameries. The domain belonged to the abbey of Saint-Ghislain and existed until the French Revolution.
The southern part of today's Frameries belonged to the domain of Flegnies ("Flago's domain"), which became independent in the XIIIth century and was known as ville de Fleignies until the XVth century. Like Lambrechies, Flegnies belonged to the abbey of Saint-Ghislain. A fourth domain belonged directly to the Count of Hainaut, whereas a fifth domain, created by Count Baudouin IV in 1142, was granted to the Knight Templars as la Cense du Temple. The domain covered 100 journels (c. 25 ha) and a commandery was built, from which the Temple's Farm (1142?) and the Pillory, set up by Commander de Fleury, from the Order of Malta in 1767, have been preserved. The domain was renamed Filémet when transferred to the Order of Malta in 1312 and transferred to the St. Waudru chapter in the second half of the XIVth century.

Coal extraction was a wealthy activity in Frameries already in the XIIIth century. Groups of miners were employed for three to nine years; lacking tools, they dug several shallow pits and worked in very dangerous conditions. The Carbenières des camps de Frameries are mentioned in 1248 and 1274. When coal mining was indistrualized, the Davy lamp was used for the first time in Frameries in 1816. There were three main collieries in Frameries, Agrappe (closed in 1922), Grand Trait and Crachet Piquery (1520-1960). In 1997, the former colliery of Crachet was revamped by the architect Jean Nouvel to host the PASS (Parc d'Aventures Scientifiques), with the help of the European Union and the Walloon Region. The aim of the PASS, self-styled a "science-friction" museum, is to highlight the role of science and technology in our society.

Frameries is the birth place of the writer, critique and politician Louis Piérard (1886-1951). In 1910, Piérard founded a People's University to promote culture. He was elected Deputee in 1919 and constantly reelected until his death. As a writer, he engaged in a correspondence with several writers and became a close friend of Georges Duhamel, Maurice Maeterlinck and Emile Verhaeren. He wrote 25 books, including La vie tragique de Vincent Van Gogh and Visage de Wallonie, and contributed to the newspaper L'Avenir du Borinage.
Joseph Dufrane (1833-1906) aka Bosquétia ("Squirrel" in Borinage dialect) is considered as the classic dialectal writer of Borinage. After having left Frameries for Brussels in 1875, he started to write in dialect and published the first Borinage Almanac (Armonaque Borain) in 1880. He wrote the "national anthem" of Frameries Enn c'est nie co Fram'ri's and several poems and comedies inspired by Esope, La Fontaine and Molière.

La Bouverie, located near big woody pastures, was originally a section of Frameries, where cattle (bœufs) were fattened up. The name was probably restricted to the hilly part of today's La Bouverie, where herders (bouviers) watched cattle. In the past, La Bouverie was known for shoe industry, today disappeared. Like several other villages in Borinage, La Bouverie was the starting point of several Protestant missions all over the world.
La Bouverie is the birth place of the writer Ovide Dieu (1883-1950), whose heroic comedy Hena was very successful in Paris, but not for long, and of several opera singers of international fame, the baritone Valère Blouse (1892-1970) famous at the opera of Marseilles, the bass Léon Balcon aka Balconi (1898-1968), the baritone and later tenor Arthur François aka Darnel (1879-1944), the tenor Victor Verteneuil (1895-1973), and, the most famous of all, Florent Laurent (1873-1970), aka "the Nightingale from Frameries". During the First World War, Laurent exiled to Paris where he was highly estimated by Vincent d'Indy, director of the Schola Cantorum, and was appointed Tutor at the Opera. However, he preferred to go back to La Bouverie in 1918, and carried on a brilliant national and international career.

Eugies, one of the "green lungs" of Borinage, was known in the XIIth century as Iwegnies (1167) and Iwignies (1171). This name, later changed to Ugies and eventually Eugies, locally Widgies, might have been derived from "(Villas) Ugoniacas", "Ugo's estate". Excavations made in the ancien hermitage known as El cave du R'mite (La Cave de l'Ermite) have yielded coins dating from Emperors Valerian (252-260) and Gallienus (260-268). The Gallo-Roman villa most probably located there might have been abandoned or destroyed by the Franks in the late IIIrd century. The domain belonged to the Bishopric of Cambrai, and was often visited by Archbishop Fénelon in 1695-1715.
A steam tramway was set up around 1900 between Eugies and Sars-la-Bruyère, and later extended to Blaregnies. The line was suppressed around 1935, reinstated in 1940-1945 and eventually replaced by a bus service after the liberation.

Sars-la-Bruyère, after the Low Latin word sartum, "a clearing" (see ancient French essart or essert) is mentioned as belonging to the St. Waudru chapter of Mons in the bull signed on 25 October 1185 by Pope Lucius III. The early village was crossed by the Roman way Bavay-Utrecht. Until the French Revolution, the village was known as Sars-Notre-Dame or Sars-lez-Eugies. It was renamed later Sars-la-Bruyère, La Bruyère ("The Heather") being the name of an ancient farm located in the north-east of the village. The red earth locally called bolus was used by Canon Puissant to make ceramics. Edmond Puissant (1869-1934) was a collector who contributed to the preservation of several monuments, including the XII-XIIIth century square donjon of Sars-la-Bruyère.
The place called "La Noire Bouteille" (The Black Bottle) was one of the sites of the battle of Malplaquet, which took place on 11 September 1709 during the War of Succession of Spain. The battle opposed the French and Spaniards, commanded by Marshal de Villars and Marshal de Boufflers to the Allied (English, Dutch and Portuguese) commanded by Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy. The French troops eventually withdrew but the biggest loss was on the Allied side, which gave up invading France. The battle of Malplaquet is considered as the most deadly in the XVIIth and XVIIIth century (more than 30,000 were killed, with a French: Allied 2:3 ratio). The first killed during the battle were 57 out of the then 110 inhabitants of Sars-les-Bruyères, who died of suffocation in the church bombed by the English at the end of the mass. The French popular song Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre is said to have been written by Madame de Sévigné after the erroneous announcement of the the Duke's death after the battle; the song has been adapted to English with a completely different meaning as For he is a jolly good fellow, and "retro-adapted" to French with the same meaning as Car c'est un bon camarade.

Noirchain might be the ancient Murocinctus, after muros, "walls", later changed to mor and eventually nor and cinctus, "surrounded", therefore meaning "a domain surrounded with walls". The popular etymology says that miners' wifes carrying baskets on their back cut their breasts (seins) to avoid strap rubbing. Another version relates Noirchain to noirs dgeins, "black people", the nickname given to the coal miners. Noirchain is famous for its wooded slag heap.
Anyway, Noirchain was located on the Roman way Bavay-Utrecht and might have been an outpost of Castricolus. In the Middle Ages, the domain belonged to the Count of Hainaut and the St. Waudru Chapter of Mons. In the XIIth century, the abbeys of Ghislenghien, Bélian and Anchin owned goods in Noirchain, as did the Knights Templars. The XVIIIth century castle owned successively by the Hannequinne-Fourcault and Carlier families was destroyed by a blaze in 1914.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 13 January 2007

Municipal flag of Frameries

The municipal flag of Frameries is yellow with a black double-headed eagle placed in the left part of the flag.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 16 September 1999 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 22 September 2000, with the following description:
Jaune à l'aigle bicéphale éployée noire, posée au premier tiers du battant.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, with the eagle skewed to the hoist.

According to Servais, the arms of Frameries, D'or à l'aigle bicéphale éployée de sable, were granted by Royal Decree on 23 November 1937. The Imperial eagle was already portrayed on the seals of the town in the XVIth century, but its exact origin and meaning are unknown.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 6 July 2007