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Les Bons Villers (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-01-19 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Les Bons Villers]

Municipal flag of Les Bons Villers - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 24 March 2007

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Presentation of Les Bons Villers and its villages

The municipality of Les Bons Villers (8,932 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 4,255 ha) is located north of Charleroi, on the border of Hainaut and Walloon Brabant. The municipality of Les Bons Villers was formed in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Frasnes-lez-Gosselies, Mellet, Rêves, Villers-Perwin and Wayaux.
Les Bons Villiers (The Good Arable Crops) was originally the name of the place where the Gallo-Roman town of Geminiacum was found, near the today's village of Liberchies (incorporated in 1976 in the municipality of Pont-à-Celles). The municipalities of Les Bons Villers and Pont-à-Celles form the Country of Geminiacum.

Frasnes-lez-Gosselies (local form, Fraune) is the administrative center of Les Bons Villers. The village was named after the ash tree, in Latin, fraxinus, in Walloon, frane, and in French, frêne. According to Dom Berlière, from the abbey of Maredsous, the village was known as Fraxinum in 779 and as Fraxina in 844, and is therefore of probable Gallo-Roman origin. Later names of the village are Fraine (1210), Frania (1263), Fresne (XVIIIth century), Frasne or Frasnes (1802-1830). The name of Frasnes-lez-Gosselies was used in the official forms from 1838 onwards but was eventually fixed only in 1851. Gosselies is a former municipality incorporated into Charleroi in 1976.
Frasnes belonged to the Duchy of Brabant and was granted in 1160 by Duke Godefroid III the same municipal rights as the town of Leuven. In 1099, monks from the abbey of Affligem founded a Benedictine priory in Frasnes, which was given back to Affligem and plundered in 1162 by Gauthier de Fontaine and Gilon de Trazegnies. In 1180, the priory set up an hospital for the poor.
Baudouin d'Aulne, Bishop of Simgalen (Courland), consecrated on 18 August 1237 the chapel Notre-Dame du Roux. The procession known as Tour Notre-Dame du Roux still starts from the chapel every 15 August at 6 AM; the route includes 20 smaller chapels (potales) decorated with flowers and lit with candles. The procession ends at the chapel with a mass celebrated around 9 AM.
The priory was damaged during the wars between Brabant and Liège and burnt down in 1549. Emperor Charles V asked the abbey of Affligem to rebuild it, which was started in 1565 but stopped by the war. The village of Frasnes was burnt to ashes in 1649 and 1677.
Frasnes was mostly a rural village, with several big farms; there was a significant number of brickyards in the village in the XIXth century. The Nivelles-Fleurus railway served Frasnes from 1876 to 1 September 1952.

Mellet, crossed by an ancient Roman way, belonged to the Duchy of Brabant. A part of the village, the domain of Biemelet, was transfered to Count of Namur Philippe le Noble in 1209, who was, however, not allowed to build a castle there; the domain was later owned by the Berghes and Ligne families. The domain of Mellet proper belonged to the Witthem and the Croÿ it was purchased in 1620 by Philippe-Philibert de Spanghen. In 1742, the two domains were reunited by marriage. Mellet had a fortress, surrounded by two networks of moats and with a farm and a chapel. After the French Revolution, the bell of the chapel was buried in a neighbouring field and is probably still there. The castle was purchased by the municipality, transformed and used as a school until 1868. Its donjon is used today as a visitors' center.
Mellet was mostly a rural village, with up to eight tileries and seven chicory factories, the last of them being closed short after 1940.

Rêves was divided until the French Revolution into two domains, Rêves proper (Latin, Rodava), a free land of the Duchy of Brabant, and Odoumont, which was incorporated into the municipality of Nivelles in 1095. In 1488, the domain of Rêves was purchased by Henri-Charles de Dongelbert, the natural son of Councillor of Brabant Jean I, made Baron in 1651. His son François was made Marquis of Rêves by Charles II of Spain.
Rêves was mostly a rural village, with three distilleries recorded in 1764, as well as a brickyard and a brewery.

Villers-Perwin belonged to the Duchy of Brabant; it was ruled by a local family, and later by the Walhain (XIIIth century), the Berghes (XVth century) and the Ligne (XVIth century). In 1618, Albert de Ligne sold the domain to Gérard de Villers, Councillor of the Archdukes Albert and Isabelle. The battle of Fleurus (6 August 1622) partially took place in Villers-Perwin. The legend says that there were so many bodies left on the field that the next harvest of wheat was completely black and "burnt" and had to be used to brew beer.

Wayaux is the smallest and southernmost component of Les Bons Villiers. It belonged once to the County of Namur, then to the County of Hainaut and eventually to the royal domain.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 24 March 2007

Municipal flag of Les Bons Villers

The municipal flag of Les Bons Villers is horizontally divided red-white-red with five red stars in the white stripe.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was proposed by the Vexillology and Heraldry Council of the French Community as Trois laizes longitudinales rouge, blanche et rouge, la laize blanche chargée de cinq étoiles à cinq rais rouges.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

According to the municipal website, the fomer arms of Frasnes-lez-Gosselies, granted by Royal Decree on 27 October 1930, are De gueules à la fasce d'argent (Gules a fess argent), therefore similar to the old arms of Leuven (remember that Frasnes was granted the same municipal rights as Leuven).
The five stars undoubtly represent the five former municipalities merged into Les Bons Villers.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 24 March 2007