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Wervik (Municipality, Province of West Flanders, Belgium)


Last modified: 2008-04-26 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Wervik]

Municipal flag of Wervik - Image by Filip van Laenen, 11 November 2001

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Presentation of Wervik

The municipality of Wervik (in French, Wervicq; 17,690 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 4,361 ha) is located 15 km north of Lille (France), on the border with France, here the river Leie, that separates Wervik from the French town of Wervicq-Sud (in Dutch, Wervik-Zuud; 4,288 inh.). The municipality of Wervik is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Wervik (11,353 inh.) and Geluwe (6,320 inh.).

Wervik was originally a Celtic village ran by Virovos from a small height located on the bank of the Leie (today, the island of Balokken). After the conquest of Gaul, the Romans set up here a post house they called Viroviacum. The place is shown under this name in Antonin's Itinerary. Further written forms of the name of the village are Wervy, Wervick and Werveka (XI-XIIIth centuries).
In the Middle Ages, cloth made in Wervik (panni de vervi) was highly prized by the merchants from the Italian and Hanseatic towns, who exported it up to Novgorod (Russia). The town was extremely wealthy and it is believed that Wervik had 50,000 inhabitants under the reign of Countess of Flanders Margaretha of Constantinople. Burned down by the French in 1382 and hit by the clothing industry crisis, Wervik then progressively declined.
In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht prescribed the Leie as the border between France and Austria, so that the town of Wervik was split into Wervicq-Sud (France) and Wervik (Austrian Netherlands). Already grown in the region of Wervik in 1657, tobacco became a main crop and industry in Wervik after the split of the town. Smuggling tobacco to France was the main source of income in the village. In the XXth century, Wervik was the main center of tobacco production in Belgium and has remained so until now, growing 98% of the Belgian tobacco. Wervik is the place of the National Tobacco Museum.

Source: Municipal website

Wervik is the birth town of the cyclist Jospeh Demuysere (1907-1969), winner of Milan-San Remo in 1934; of the actor, writer and director Ronny Coutteure (1951-2000); and of the politician Yves Leterme (b. 1960), Minister-President of Flanders since 2004, and unsuccessfull "explorer" (in charge of setting up a government) after the victory of his party (CD&V) in the general elections in 2007.

Ivan Sache, 31 December 2007

Municipal flag of Wervik

The municipal flag of Wervik is vertically divided yellow-red.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 30 January 1985, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 7 May 1985 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1996.
The colours of the flag are taken from the municipal arms.

According to the municipal website, the arms of Wervik, "Or a bend gules cantonned by six roses of the same", were granted by (Dutch) Royal Decree in 1816 and confirmed by (Belgian) Royal Decree on 16 November 1842, with the suppression of the crown topping the arms granted in 1816.
The municipal seal of Wervik dated 1498 shows a shield with a bend and six roses. In the XVIth century, Wervy bore "Or a bend and six roses, all gules", while the lord of Wervy bore "Or a bend and six cinquefoils, all gules". The municipal seal ad causas used until the end of the XVIth century was engraved with a bend and six roses, the shield topped by a bishop's chest, with miter and crozier. The 1644 seal was similar, but supported dexter and sinister by a hen.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 31 December 2007