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Quiévrain (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

Last modified: 2017-07-24 by ivan sache
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Flag of Quiévrain - Image by António Martins, 24 July 2017


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Presentation of Quiévrain and its villages

The municipality of Quiévrain (6,154 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,122 ha; municipal website, historcial website), located 15 km east of Valenciennes (France), is separated from the French town of Quiévrechain by the French-Belgian border. The municipality of Quiévrain was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Quiévrain (5,013 inh.), Audregnies (853 inh.) and Baisieux (786 inh.).
The expression Outre Quiévrain, lit. "Beyond Quiévrain", is locally used to designate the neighbouring country (that is, for the French, nos voisins d'Outre Quiévrain are the Belgians, while they are the French for the Belgians).

Quiévrain is located on the confluence of two rivers, Grande Honnelle and Petite Honnelle (also the namesake of the municipality of Honnelles), which form the Honneau - called Aunelle on the other side of the border.
Most probably already settled in the Gallo-Roman times, Quiévrain was mentioned for the first time in 902 as Caprinium in a deed by King Charles the Simple; Lothar's deed, written in 982, mentions Cavrem. Later variants of the name of the village are Chiuvrain, Chiévrain, Kiévraing, Kiéverain, Kévreng and Quévrain. Jacques de Guyse claims that river Honnelle is named after the Huns, while Quiévrain is named after a fort built by the Roman general Servius. This etymology is definitively fanciful; Caprinium comes from capra, in Latin, "a goat", in Romance, quièvre. The suffix -rain probably comes from Latin ramus, "a wood", Quiévrain being therefore "the goats' wood".
Quiévrain became a municipality in the 12th century, while the domain of Quiévrain, including Hensies and Baisieux, belonged to the County of Hainaut. The lord of Quiévrain had jurisdiction over the three villages, symbolized by a pillory erected in each of them. The first known lord of Quiévrain is Waulcher, mentioned in documents from 1067 to 1090. Among his descendants, Walter II faught under the banner of Hainaut and was captured in the famous battle of Bouvines on 27 July 1214. In the 13th century, Isabeau of Quiévrain married Godefroid of Aspremont, whose lineage ruled Quiévrain until the middle 14th century. Mahaut of Aspremont then married Simon of Lalaing, Bailiff of Hainaut. In 1406, Joanna, the daughter of Baron Simon IV of Lalaing, married Olivier of Châtillon (aka of Blois), Count of Penthièvre, Viscount of Limoges and lord of Avesnes, who had had to exile from Brittany. Her sister Mary married Jean of Croÿ, so that Quiévrain was eventually transferred to this powerful lineage. In 1587, Quiévrain was transferred to another powerful lineage, the Arenberg.
In 1544, King of France Henry II destroyed the castles of Binche and Mariemeont; on his way back to France, he besieged the castle of Quiévrain and partially destroyed it. On 6 September 1655, Turenne, commanding 2,000 soldiers, ordered the suppression of the village. The church was rebuilt in 1699 by the public contractor Jean Fally (1670-1740), whose descenders still owns the company, considered as the oldest in Belgium.
In 1830, 73 volunteers led by the local hero, Éloi-Philippe Debast, took part to the fightings for the independence in Brussels; accordingly, the town was awarded a honour flag in 1831. Debast served in the French republican and imperial armies, fighting in Russia and Waterloo, and significantly contributed to the victory of Leuven in 1831. The local tradition says that King Leopold II, when inaugurating the railway station of Quiévrain in 1842, asked the Mayor to salute Debast's widow on His behalf.

Quiévrain is a main place of communication between France and Belgium, being crossed by the Valenciennes-Mons road, whose building was ordered by Empress Maria-Theresa in Letters Patented signed on 10 June 1750, and by the Paris-Brussels railway, with a border station.
On 22 August 1868, Victor Hugo and some of his relatives stopped at Quiévrain, when bringing back the body of Adèle Hugo, the writer's late wife, to France. In spite of having been amnistied, Victor Hugo went back to Brussels since he had refused to come back to France as long as Napoléon III would rule the country.
On 20 July 1872, the French poet Paul Verlaine sat in the Paris-Brussels train with his wife Mathilde Mauté, who had travelled to Brussels to bring back his husband, then in love with the poet Arthur Rimbaud, and her mother. After the customs inspection, Verlaine pretended to sleep, jumped out of the train, entered the station buffet and wrote a letter to her wife, announcing her he went back to Brussels.

Audregnies was located on the ford on the Petite Honnelle of the Roman way linking Bavay (Bagacum) to Flanders (later known as Chaussée Brunehaut). The village was mentioned for the first time in 965 as Aldriniae, later transformed to Aldernia (1119), Aldrinee (1181), Daudergnies (1186), Andregnies and Audrignie. The name of the village might come either from a lord Ander / Aldrinus, also the possible owner of Audignies (France) and even of Auderghem/Oudergem near Bruseels, or from the Germanic word ouder, "the elders".
Remains of Gallo-Roman aqueducts have been found in Audregnies. The local lords took part to the Crusades; they were related to the families of Harchies, Ville and Strépy and are sometimes mentioned as a junior branch of the Hennin-Liétard. Allard, lord of Audregnies and Strépy, founded in 1224 a Trinitarian monastery, whose aim was to purchase back the Christian prisoners from the Moors. A lord of Audregnies was killed during the battle of Agincourt in 1415. The castle of Audregnies was destroyed after a revolt against Emperor Charles V.
A legend says that a lord of Audregnies built once a pillory, in spite of the opposition of the villagers; on next night, they rang the church's bells and demolished the pillory. The lord promised never to come back to the village and died of wrath the next night. A real, historic privilege of the lord of Audregnies was the right of chapon pouillage. Accordingly, each villager had to offer the lord a capon (in French, chapon); in 1779 and the following years, several villagers "forgot" to send the present, so that the Provost of Mons officially complained to the Mayor of Audregnies on 25 December 1785. The outcome of the complaint has not been recorded, and the 1789 Revolution wiped out the feudal rights.

Baisieux is a rural village located half-distance between Quiévrain and Angre. There are two more villages named Baisieux in France, one in Picardy and the other on the border with Belgium (like this one!). Baisieux was listed as Basiacum in a charter dated 965, later shortened to the local form Baisiu. The etymology of Baisieux is controversial, with some fanciful hypotheses like the "kisses' (in French, baiser) field"; the name of the village is most probably related to low (in French, bas) lands, the village having been indeed often flooded in the past by the two Honnelles. The villagers bear the weird name of Basigomiens.
The domain of Baisieux, originally owned by a local family, was later transferred to the lords of Quiévrain and their successors. A part of the village belonged to the domain of Hensies. The lords of Baisieux lived in the castle of Maugré; the most famous of them, Jacques, was a famous trouvère in the 13th century. In 1364, Siger II of Enghien, expelled by uke Albert of Bavaria, Regent of Hainaut and challenged by Siger for the title of Count, moved to the castle of Maugré. On 18 March, Albert captured Siger and ordered his beheading in Le Quesnoy, in spite of the protestations of the nobles of Hainaut, which were acknowledged with the local equivalent of two fingers up (bras d'honneur). In 1423, Albert's grand daughter, Jacqueline of Bavaria, seized the castle of Maugré, which was again a den of challengers. The fortress was eventually suppressed by the Duke of Alençon in 1578. On 26 August 1649, Louis XIV's troops burned down the village, sparing only two houses.
The Treaty of Brussels, signed on 18 November 1779, fixed the Aunelle as the border between France and the Low Countries, transferring the castle of the Quiévrechain and the villages of Petit-Baisieux and Marchipont to the Low Countries.

Ivan Sache, 9 October 2007


Flag of Quiévrain

The flag of Quiévrain is yellow with a white vertical stripe with three red descending diagonal stripes, placed along the hoist.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones [w2v03a], the flag, adopted on 10 February 1992 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 8 December 1992 by the Executive of the French Community. The width of the vertical stripe is one third of the flag's width.
The flag is based on the municipal arms, which are rotated orthogonally anticlockwise and reverted (so that the upper left corner is red and not white).

According to the Quiévrain historical website, the municipal arms are derived from a municipal seal used in the 14th century, which features the arms of the lords of Quiévrain,"Or a chief bendy argent and gules six pieces".

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 9 October 2007