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Leuze-en-Hainaut (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

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

Municipal flag of Leuze-en-Hainaut - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 30 October 2005

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Presentation of Leuze-en-Hainaut and its villages

The municipality of Leuze-en-Hainaut (13,300 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 7,511 ha) is located 10 km east of Tournai and 7 km north of the border with France. The municipality of Leuze-en-Hainaut was formed in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Leuze, Blicquy, Chapelle-à-Oie, Chapelle-à-Wattines, Gallaix, Grandmetz, Pipaix, Thieulain, Tourpes and Willaupuis.

Leuze was known in the Gallo-Roman times as Lutosa, "the muddy town"; the town was indeed located in the marshy valley of the Western Dendre and its tributaries. In the middle of the VIIth century, Leuze developed around a monastery dedicated to Sts. Peter and Paul; it was originally a royal estate (fisc), given by Charlemagne to Ludger, first Bishop of Munster, in 802. Leuze is mentioned in the treaty that shared in 870 the Kingdom of Lotharingia between Charles le Chauve, King of France, and Louis, King of Germany. Leuze was allocated to Charles. The Benedictine abbey was downgraded to a canons' chapter, known at least since 1024; the community was suppressed by the Law of the 5 Frimaire of the Year IV (25 November 1797).
Arouns year 1000, Guéric le Sor, lord of Avesnes (now in northern France) set up a feudal domain between the rivers Scheldt and Dender, with Leuze as its capital. In 1071, Countess Richilde de Hainaut transferred Condé, Antoing and the Provostship of Leuze to the Bishop of Liège as fiefs. Jeanne de Chastillon, heir of Leuze and Condé, married Constable of France Jacques de Bourbon. Louis de Bourbon sold Leuze, Condé and other domains to Marie de Montmorency. On 25 May 1477, the castle and the fortifications of Leuze were destroyed by the troops of Louis XI, when attempting to incorporate to France the domains owned by the Duchy of Burgundy.
Clothing industry started in the beginning of the XIIIth century in Leuze. It became so successful that cloth manufacturers from Enghien came to Leuze to learn the local methods. A free fair was granted by Charles Quint in 1532. The town was partially burned during the Religious Wars, in 1558 and 1581. In 1606, blazes and storms cause a panic and one third of the inhabitants left the town.

The combat de Leuze, aka bataille du Mont d'Or, took place on 19 September 1691. Monsieur de Luxembourg, Duke and Peer of France and his 28 battalions defeated the 70 battalions commanded by Prince de Waldeck. The local tradition says that Louis XIV was present on the battle field; however, historical documents prove he was in Fontainebleau on that day.
The allied (English, Dutch and German) cavalry was stationed near Blicquy and Chapelle-à-l'Oie, in a very marshy area. Waldeck ordered to leave the place and cross the bridges, when the French cavalry riding from Tournai showed up. The allied battalions crossed back the bridges and were immediatly attacked by the French, who hammered five of the six allied lines. The sixth line had to withdraw to the village of Andricourt. At the end of the day, the English infantry commanded by the famous Marlborough attempted to help the cavalry, but it was too late. In two hours, the French lost 400 men and the Allied 3,000.
Monsieur de Luxembourg (François-Henri de Montmorency-Bouteville, 1628-1695) commanded the French army in Holland (1672) and Flanders (1680); he won several battles and captured a lot of standards, and was therefore nicknamed le Tapissier de Notre-Dame (Notre-Dame tapestry-maker). At that time, the captured standards were solemnly placed in the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.

Around 1700, mechanization of cloth industry started in Leuze. The first knitting machines were heavy and could be ran only by men, who worked at home and were nicknamed balotils (from bas à l'outil, "stockings [made] with a tool"). Progressively, the workers grouped in small workshops of 3-4 owners of 100 machines each, producing 50,000 pairs of stockings per year. Clothing industry developed so well that the Austrian administration built in 1744 a road linking Leuze to Tournai and Péruwelz. In the middle of the XVIIIth century, 2/3 of the inhabitants of Leuze lived from hosiery. The production even doubled during the Napoleonic period.
Leuze was awarded the title of town by King William in 1817. In the XIXth century, industry diversified; there were in 1830, beside the hosiery workshops, ten flour mills, eight breweries, two tileries, seven salt refineries and a tannery.
Hosiery was still very active in the XXth century, employing 1,000-2,000 workers. This activity completely disappeared from Leuze at the end of the XXth century.

Blicquy (712 inhabitants; 911 h) is a mostly rural village watered by the Secours de la Dendre. Blicquy was an important vicus (village) in the Gallo-Roman times; excavations that started in 1958 have unveiled a villa with a bronze kiln, a well and a heating system (hypocaust), stables of a staging post, a big cemetary reused during the Merovingian times and several bronze statuettes dedicated to gods Mars and Mercury. The feudal castle and domain of Blicquy is mentioned since the XIth century (Belchi, 1084 and 1108; Bilchi, 1101; Bliki, 1262; Blicquie, 1663; Bliquy, 1691; and eventually Blicquy, 1745).

Chapelle-à-Oie (355 inhabitants; 552 ha) was known in the past as Capelle or Capièle (1186). The aforementioned combat de Leuze mostly took place near the village of Chapelle-à-Oie. The limit between Chapelle-à-Oie and Chapelle-à-Wattines was fixed by an Imperial Decree on the 30 Thermidor of the Year XIII (1805) as the road Ath-Tournai; the ancient road, located 300 m beyond the modern road, was kept as the limit between the two parishes.

Chapelle-à-Wattines (834 inhabitants; 815 ha) might have got its name from chapellerie, a "hat (chapeau) shop". However, an etymology related to a chapel (chapelle) seems more probable.

Gallaix (233 inhabitants; 183 ha) is a rural isolated village. According to the local poet and former Mayor Georges Delaunaix (1872-1946), the name of Gallaix comes from Gaulois ("Gauls"). The Tournai Manuscript, dated 1186, mentions Gallars. Some historians say that Gallars is made of the prefix gal-, "stone" (see galet, cobblestone), and the suffix -aix, of collective meaning. Gallaix would therefore mean "a stony place", which is confirmed by the very stony soil of the village. The old chart of Gallaix prescribes the "Pourchel" ceremony: on the Epiphany Monday, the chapter of Antoing came to Gallaix in order to exercize justice and the village had to offer a dinner to its lords. The main course was pork, therefore the name of "Pourchel". During the dinner, the guests called la pucelle, that is the virgin; the girl who had carried the Blessed Virgin's candle during the procession showed up, teased a little bit the lord, kissed him, offered him flowers and fruit, and disappeared. This was supposed to recall the (very hypothetical) "droit du seigneur". Gallaix is one of the last villages to celebrate St. Gregor, the patron saint of schoolboys; until 1965, the school was closed on that day.

Grandmetz (681 inhabitants; 765 ha) was a free domain in the County of Hainaut. As usual in the region, there was inside the domain an enclave belonging to the County of Flanders, the domain of Dameries, known since the XIIth century.

Pipaix (1,437 inhabitants; 865 ha) is known since the XII-XIIIth century, as Pippais and Puspaix. This name has been related to pitha-baki, "the house near the brook" or "the place of the sources". Other explanations claim that the inhabitants of the village were very peaceful, compared to their neighbours, and that the village was nicknamed Pays de Paix (Place of Peace), or that the local clay was used in the past to make pipes, considered as a symbol of peace.

Thieulain (687 inhabitants; 810 ha) was probably named after the linden tree (tilleul). Knight Godefroid de Thieulain and his son Baudoin helped Count of Hainaut Baudouin IV in 1168 in a battle against the Count of Flanders.

Tourpes (833 inhabitants; 943 ha) was originally known as Dorp (in Germanic, "a village"); the name of Tourpes appeared at the end of the XVIIth century.

Willaupuis (414 inhabitants; 233 ha) was mentioned in 1186, as Willaupuch. It means literally "the town near the well" (ville au puits). There is indeed a very old well in the village, known as the Cantharin well.

Sources: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 30 October 2005

Municipal flag of Leuze-en-Hainaut

The municipal flag of Leuze-en-Hainaut is diagonally divided (per bend) white-blue, therefore virtually identical to the flag of Lebbeke.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 25 February 1992 and confirmed by the Executive of Wallonia on 8 December 1992, as Tranché blanc sur bleu.

The colours of the flag are those of the municipal coat of arms, granted by Royal Decree on 16 August 1838, as D'argent billeté d'azur chargé d'un lion du même, armé et lampassé de gueules, la queue fourchée (Argent billety azure a forked-tail lion of the same armed and langued gules).
According to the Heraldus website, these arms were ascribed to the lords of Leuze by Count Joseph of Saint-Genois, an historian of the County of Hainaut from the end of the XVIIIth century (Armoiries et cris du comté de Hainaut).

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 25 August 2007