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Fleurus (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

Last modified: 2009-10-02 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Fleurus

The municipality of Fleurus (22,272 inhabitants on 1 July 2007; 5,928 ha) is located north-east of Charleroi, forming the north-eastern corner of the Province of Hainaut. The municipality of Fleurus is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Fleurus, Brye, Heppignies, Lambusart, Saint-Amand, Wagnelée, Wanfercée-Baulet and Wangenies.

Fleurus was mentioned for the first time in the Polyptich of the abbey of Lobbes (868/869) as Fledelciolum / Flederciolum. The Chronicle of Waulsort (10th century) lists Flerus, whereas Notger's Decree (980) lists Flerosium. Flerus was latinized into Flerusium in 1033, but the Chart granted to the town in 1155 uses the Romanic form Flerus, shortened to Fleru in the 1247 chart. Other Latin forms are Flerosium, Flerosiensis, Flerucensis and Flerucensium; Fleurus appeared in the 17th century. It is believed that the town was named after the brook that waters it.
Count of Namur Henri the Blind, owner of the castle of Heppignies, granted a chart to the town in 1155. The chart was confirmed by Baudouin of Constantinople in 1247.

Located on a strategic place, Fleurus and its neighborhood were the place of more than 140 battles, 31 of them having damaged the town.
On 29 August 1622, during the Thirty Years' War, the battle of Fleurus opposed the Spaniards commanded by General Gonzales of Cordoba to the Germans commanded by Christian von Brunswick and Ernst von Mansfeld. The Spaniards won, Brunswick lost his left arm, later replaced by a silver prosthesis, but some 6,000 Germans soldiers could walk over Bergen-op-Zoom, besieged by the Catholics, and lift the siege.
On 1 July 1690, during the War of the League of Augsburg, Marshal of Luxembourg, commanding Louis XIV's army, defeated the army of the League (The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and England) commanded by the Prince of Waldeck. The France lost 3,000 men, the League 9,000. During the battle, the French infantry was submitted to friendly fire by the artillery, that had not identified their colours. Accordingly, the addition of a white scarf on the top of the flags was prescribed. Louis XIV later withdrew from Belgium but the victory of Fleurus had prevented an invasion of France by the League.
On 26 June 1794 (8 Messidor of the Year II), the French revolutionary army commanded by General Jean-Baptiste Jourdan defeated the Austrians, leaders of the First Coalition, commanded by the Prince of Saxe-Cobourg. After their defeat, the Austrians withdrew from Belgium to Germany. The French entered Brussels on 10 July and Antwerp on 27 July, while the English expeditionary corps reembarked. The battle of Fleurus showed the first attempt of using a captive balloon for watching the battlefield. Later, Napoléon was not convinced by this system, which was too slow compared to the quick moves of the infantry. The captive balloon reappeared only during the American Civil War.
On 16 June 1815, Napoléon I won his last battle in Ligny, near Fleurus, two days before the disaster of Waterloo. The Prussian army was commanded by Marshal Blücher, who was about to be captured by the French. His horse was killed under him, holding the old Marshal, who was, fortunately, not spotted by the French and could be extricated by his soldiers.

The "diamonds of Fleurus" are small quartz stones, usually of the size of a hazelnut; the purest of them look like small diamonds. They became popular in the 18th century, when they were brought to Brussels by farmers and sold as genuine diamonds to decorate shrines; accordingly, the Austrian government banned their trade. However, they were still used all along the 19th century to make jewels, watches and boxes.


Ivan Sache, 3 July 2007

Municipal flag of Fleurus

According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones [w2v03], there is no municipal flag used in Fleurus.

Pascal Vagnat, 3 July 2007

1830 Honour flag awarded to Fleurus

The 1830 Honour flag awarded to Fleurus is shown to illustrate the modern transcription of the booklet Souvenirs sur la petite ville de Fleurus sur la révolution de 1830 et sur les quatre grandes batailles qui ont eu lieu sur ses plaines, written by Charles Jacquet and published by Eugène Wattiaux, printer at Fleurus, in 1865 (then sold for 1 F in aid of the poor).
A colour photo (surely not included in the original booklet) of the flag is shown on p. 20 of the document; the flag is said to be kept in the hall of the first floor of the former town hall, located Ferrer Square.

Ivan Sache, 18 April 2009