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Sombreffe (Municipality, Province of Namur, Belgium)

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Sombreffe]

Municipal flag of Sombreffe - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 17 November 2007

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Presentation of Sombreffe

The municipality of Sombreffe (7,732 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,578 ha) is located 20 km north-west of Namur, on the borders with (Walloon) Brabant and Hainaut. The municipality of Sombreffe is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Sombreffe (1,763 ha), Boignée (308 ha), Ligny (589 ha) and Tongrinne (841 ha).

Sombreffe was crossed in the Roman times by the Bavay-Tongeren way, crossing the northern part of the today's municipal territory, where a Gallo-Roman tomb was found in 1959.
In the Middle Age, Sombreffe was a border village divided into the two domains of Sombreffe, part of the Duchy of Brabant, and Mont-sur-Sombreffe, part of the County of Namur. A boundary stone limiting the two domains is still kept in the town hall of Sombreffe. The two domains were united in 1810 by an Imperial Decree signed by Napoléon I.
The castle of Sombreffe was built in the XII-XIIIth century as a Brabantian border fortress, thus explaining its location in a plain rather than on a height, as usual for the watching fortresses. Partially burned at the end of the XVIth century, the castle was rebuilt with three main towers and a unique entrance gate protected by two smaller towers. The succesive owners of the castle belonged to famous lineages, such as Orbais, Virnenbourg, Lalaing, Ligne, Oignies and Lannoy. In spite of its registration on the Heritage List in Wallonia, the castle of Sombreffe was ruined when Dr. Geerts purchased it in 1982. A complete restoration made it possible to use the castle for seminars, weddings, etc.

Source: Municipal website

Ligny is the place of the battle won by Napoléon over the Prussians on 16 June 1815, two days before the disaster of Waterloo. A very detailed account of the battle can be read of the website of the Napoleonic cultural movement Les Amis de Ligny.

Ivan Sache, 17 November 2007

Municipal flag of Sombreffe

The municipal flag of Sombreffe is horizontally divided yellow-red-yellow (3:2:3) with three red merlettes placed horizontally in the upper yellow stripe.
Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones described the flag as Trois laizes longitudinales, jaune, rouge et jaune (3-2-3), la laize supérieure chargée de trois merlettes rouges.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

The Gelre Armorial shows "Or a fess gules in chief three merlettes of the same" for Godefroid, lord of Sombreffe (Die He. v. Sumbref, #824, folio 73r).
The website of the Confrérie de Malemort, an association reenacting historical events from the Hundred Years' War, describes the arms of Godefroid, lord of Sombreffe, as above, probably after the Gelre Armorial. According to the same website, Jean, lord of Sombreffe, who might have been Godefroid's father, was banned from the County of Namur after having committed a murder. The Count pardoned him, provided Jean would serve him for 40 days, together with 12 equipped men, against anybody the Count would be at war with, except the Duke of Brabant and the Count of Flanders. The contract is registered in the Namur Charterbook (Chartrier de Namur), #791, 1355. This was short before the onset of the War of Succession of Brabant, in which the Count of Namur was actually involved. Since these lords of Sombreffe are presented among the vassals of the Count of Namur, they were probably lords of Mont-sur-Sombreffe.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 17 November 2007