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Lennik (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-01-27 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Lennik
Left, as used - Image by Ivan Sache, 14 August 2008
Right, as officially prescribed - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 25 June 2005


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Presentation of Lennik and Pajottenland

The municipality of Lennik (8,729 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,080 ha; municipal website) is located 20 km west of Brussels, in the heart of the region called Pajottenland. The municipality of Lennik was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Sint-Kwintens-Lennik (1,538 ha, including Eizeringen), Sint-Martens- Lennik (1,156 ha) and Gaasbeek (368 ha).

Lennik is an old Gallo-Roman settlement then named Liniacum, probably meaning Linus' estate. Liniacum was mentioned for the first time on 7 July 874 when Emperor Charles the Bold transferred the domain to the St. Gertrud abbey in Nivelles. On 27 June 978, emperor Otto II granted permission to Abbess Adalberina to set up a market in Lennik. The domain of Lennik then included Sint-Kwintens- and Sint-Martens-Lennik, Gaasbeek, Schepdaal (incorporated into Dilbeek in 1976) and Onze-Lieve- Vrouw-Lombeek (incorporating into Roosdaal in 1965). The bordering domains of Gooik and Wambeek (incorporated into Ternat in 1976) also belonged to the abbey of Nivelles, the three domains forming the "Dietsch domain" (where a Dutch Brabantian dialect was spoken) of Nivelles.

Sint-Kwentis-Lennik (locally, Sinte-Kwinten) was the capital of the Dietsch domain and its possessions in Flanders. The abbess of Nivelles appointed the lords of Lennik as managers of the domain. Once a strategic place on the border between Brabant and Flanders, Lennik was superseded in the 13th century by Gaasbeek and the domain of Lennik was included into the Country of Gaasbeek.
The main square of Sint-Kwentins is decorated with a big bronze statue made by Koenraad Tinel in 1992, representing the Brabantian draft horse "Prins", and recalling that Lennik was one of the main centers of draft horse breeding.
Eizeringen, mentioned in 1188 as Iserghem, is the oldest hamlet of Lennik. The parish of Eizeringen became independent in 1843.

Sint-Martens-Lennik (locally, Sinte-Mettes) probably emerged as a small Frankish settlement near a chapel dedicated to St. Martin, the Apostle of the Franks. Until 1514, Sint-Martens was a daughter parish of Sint-Kwentins-Lennik. In 1826, the Dutch administration made of Schepdaal a municiality independent of Sint-Martens-Lennik.
A local legend with several variants explains that the two Lenniks were the result of a friendly competition between St. Martin and St. Quentin for building a chapel on a hill: as a soldier, Martin rode a horse while Quentin was walking, but Martin's horse stumbled when crossing a ford and Quentin won the race. A lucky loser, Martin admitted his defeat and founded his chapel on a neighbouring hill.

Gaasbeek was the capital of the Country of Gaasbeek, a "superdomain" set up by the Dukes of Brabant to protect the western part of the duchy against their neighbours, the Count of Flanders and the Count of Hainaut. Starting in the first half of the 13th century, several parishes belonging to the abbey of Nivelles were incorporated into the domain: Gaasbeek, Sint-Kwintens- and Sint-Martens-Lennik; Sint- Pieters-Leeuw, Vlezenbeek, Sint-Laureins-Berchem and Oudenaken (incorporated into Sint-Pieters-Leeuw in 1976); Gooik; Elingen (incorporated into Pepingen in 1976); Dilbeek, Itterbeek, Schepdaal and Sint-Martens-Bodegem (incorporated into Dilbeek in 1976); Strijtem, Pamel and Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek (incorporated into Roosdaal in 1976).
In 1236, the domain of Gaasbeek was transferred to Gottfried of Leuven, who built the castle of Gaasbeek around 1240. While the domain was subsequently transferred to the families of Horne and Abcoude, the rivalry between Gaasbeek and Brussels increased. In 1388, Everard 't Serclaes, magistrate of Brussels, was murdered in the hamlet of Kwadewegen by hitmen appointed by Sweder of Abcoude, lord of Gassbeek. As a retaliation, the militia from Brussels and the allied town seized the castle of Gaasbeek and burned it down to ashes. Later rebuilt as a cosy manor surrounded by a 42-ha Italian park, the castle was onwed by famous nobles such as Count Lamoral of Egmont, Count Renaat of Warfusée and Paul Arconati-Visconti. The last owner, Marie Peyrat, Marquess of Arconati, offerred the castle to the Belgian state in 1921. Owned since 1980 by the Flemish Community, the castle is now a museum showing rich art collections, including Peter Paul Rubens' testament (website).

Pajottenland is a rural area located between the rivers Zenne and Dender and surrounded by the towns of Anderlecht (Brussels-Capital), Asse (Flemish Brabant), Ninove (East Flanders), Geraardsbergen (East Flanders), Enghien (Hainaut) and Halle (Flemish Brabant). Beside parts of these towns, Pajottenland is made of another eight municipalities from Flemish Brabant: Dilbeek, Roosdaal, Gooik, Herne, Galmaarden, Pepingen, Bever, Affligem, Liedekerke, Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, Ternat and Lennik.
The name of Pajottenland was coined by romantic students from Ghent in the middle of the 19th century. The origin of the word is not clear; De Gronckel, who published in 1852 the first map with the name Pajottenland, wrongly claimed that Pajotten was a deformation of Patriots.
Pajottenland is known as Bruegel's Land. The painter Pieter Bruegel the Ancient (1525/1530-1569) settled in Brussels in 1563 and painted several landscapes and scenes of Pajottenland. A well-known painting by Bruegel shows a group of roped-up blind people falling down into a brook, which has been identified as the Pedebeke in the village of Sint-Anna-Pede. The chapel shown on the painting is still the same. Bruegel also painted fairs (kermissen), which are still main events in the local social life.
Pajottenland is the home of the lambik beer. Spontaneous fermentation of lambik is caused by wild yeasts. Lambik has been brewed since the Middle Ages. Beer obtained after this natural fermentation is called young lambik (jonge lambik). Old lambik (oude lambik) is obtained by mixing young lambiks of different origin and age. Like the British ales, the lambiks do not have a froth head. The gueuse beer (geuze), considered as the Champagne of the beers, is obtained by mixing an old lambik with a very young lambik into a tap, where a second fermentation takes place. The fruit beers Kriek and Framboise, are obtained in a similar way, with the addition of bitter cherries (krieks) or rasperries (framboises).

Ivan Sache, 23 November 2008


Flag of Lennik

A TV footage (RTL Info, 13 August 2008) shows the flags actually hoisted in Lennik, that is the flags of Flanders (official, with red nails and tongues), Flemish Brabant, European Union, and a vertically divided red-white flag, the "traditional" flag of Lennik.
However, the official and sole legal municipal flag of Lennik is white with a red chevron and three Moor's heads with a red ribbon.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag, adopted on 13 March 1989 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree issued on 6 June 1989 by the Executive of Flanders and published on 8 November 1989 in the Belgian official gazette.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

Since the end of 2005, the coat of arms has been replaced by the municipal logotype on letterhead, envelopes etc., but it remains the official emblem of the municipality and must appear on the municipal seal.
The blazon of the greater coat of arms is the following:

Argent a chevron gules cantonned by three Moor's heads wreathed of the second. The shield surmonted with an helmet argent crowned with a crown flory or, grilled, collared and edged of the same, quartered and [...] gules, mantled argent and sable. Crest: a demi-lion issuant sable armed and langued gules. Supporters: two lions rampant gardant or armed and langued gules each holding a banner, dexter with the arms [of Lennik] and sinister with a shield quartered 1. and 4. argent three mascles sable a chief gules, 2. and 3. argent a lion sable armed and langued gules.

Starting in 1683, the Baronny of Gaasbeek was split into different domains. On 12 February 1689, Jean-Pierre L'Escornet purchased for 84,000 guilders Gaasbeek, Vlezenbeek, Sint-Leureins-Berchem, Oudenaken, Elingen and the two Lenniks. The next year, he was forced by money shortage to sell Sint-Kwentins-Leenik and Sint-Martens-Leenik to Corneille de Man d'Attenrode (1620-1700, made Knight in 1673). In 1691, Corneille de Man adopted a new seal, including his family arms. In the 18th century, the arms were also represented on the municipal seal of Lennik.
The arms of the de Man family were granted to the municipality of Sint- Kwentins-Lennik by Royal Decree on 23 March 1948 and subsequently transferred to the new municipality of Lennik in 1976. There is a minor difference in the colour of the headband, argent in the Man arms and changed to gules in the arms of Sint-Kwentins.
[Municipal website]

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 23 November 2008