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Hensies (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-12-02 by ivan sache
Keywords: hensies | flower (yellow) | medlar | arenberg |
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[Flag of Hensies]

Municipal flag of Hensies - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 29 April 2006

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Presentation of Hensies and its villages

The municipality of Hensies (6,731 inhabitants on 1 January 2006; 2,603 ha) is located on the border with France, 15 km north-east of Valenciennes and 20 km south-west of Mons. The municipality of Hensies is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Hensies, Hainin, Montrœul-sur-Haine and Thulin.

There are very few ancient documents about Hensies. It is said, without firm evidence, that Haisentice listed in the share of the Kingdom of Lotharingia in 870, must be read Hensies. The first clear mention of Hensies dates back to 1180, as Hancioe. In lower Latin, Aisentioe or Esentioe means both "a colonists' estate and land used in common by a village" (in French, aisance), but nothing proves that this word is the root of Hensies. The name of the village has also been related to Hen (= hem, "a hamlet") and to the river Haine, which waters the village. The suffix -chies means "a home".
Remains of an old Roman way have been found in the place called La Malmaison, as well as tiles, coins and vases. The secondary way Hensies-Quarouble linked the Bavay-Boulogne and Bavay-Flanders ways. Hensies later depended on Quiévrain.
The Hensies-Pommerœul colliery was opened short after the end of the First World War. The shaft of Sartis was the last active coal mine in Borinage, being closed on 31 March 1976.

Hainin depended in the Middle Ages of Thulin. In the middle of the XIIth century, his lord was Guillaume, also lord of Dour and Thulin. Later, the domain of Hainin, which was biggest than the current village, was ran by the family of Haynin on behalf of the abbey of Florennes. At the end of the Ancient Regime, Hainin was purchased by the Leduc family, whose descendant Count de Clerfayt, Feldmarschall of the Imperial Army, was one of the commanders of the Austrian troops defeated in Jemappes by the French army in 1792.
Coal was extracted in Hainin from the XVIth century to 1745; there were four different collieries in 1670. Hainin was mostly a rural village but several of its inhabitants worked in the factories and coal mines of Boussu and Dour and in the factories of Crespin and Blanc-Misseron, in France.

Montrœul-sur-Haine is a very ancient settlement. In 1846, four stocks of more than 3,000 Roman coins buried in the IIIrd century were found, as well as remains of buildings of the same period. More than 200 Gallo-Roman tombs have yielded wine and oil amphoras, funerary urns, vases, dishes, etc. In the Middle Ages, the domain of Montrœul was owned by a local family and later transferred to the lords of Le Roeulx, Condé, Werchin and Ligne.
King of France Louis XI burnt down the castle of Montrœul in 1477. The domain of Thirisart, owned by Count de Croÿ, existed in Montrœul until the French Revolution. The village is made of several hamlets scattered along a main road; it was for long threatened by the the floodings of the Haine. Until 1742, the villagers owned collectively with Thulin and Elouges a marsh with a permanent right of pasture; the marsh was then shared among the three villages.

Thulin is also a very ancient settlement. Funerary urns filled with hundreds of Roman coins have been found there. The domain of Thulin, a fief of Boussu, successively belonged to Guillaume de Dour, to the Aspremont family (middle of the XIIth century) and to the Ligne family (from 1513 to the French Revolution). The village was sacked by the Huguenots commanded by Louis de Nassau in 1572. From the XVIIth to the XIXth century, Thulin was a village of significance, bigger than the neighbouring ones and even bigger than Saint-Ghislain. Thulin was a rural village with rich soils. In 1920, two coal shafts employed some 100 workers, and there were a few small industries such as the Cartonneries and Papeteries du Hainaut.


Ivan Sache, 29 April 2006

Municipal flag of Hensies

The municipal flag of Hensies is yellow with a blue bend sinister (or ascending diagonal) overlaid by a red engrailed bend (or descending diagonal) and a yellow quitefoil in the middle of the saltire.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 22 October 1993 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 6 October 1994, with the following description:
Jaune à une laize ascendante bleue sur laquelle passe une laize diagonale engrêlée descendante rouge chargée en son milieu d'une fleur de néflier jaune.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms. The flower is specified as a medlar (Mespilus germanica L.) flower. The simplified representation of the flower is botanically correct.

The arms of the former municipality of Hensies, granted by Royal Decree on 22 November 1924, deserve description because of their odd lozengy shape. Their official description is:
Un écu en losange : parti au premier écartelé 1. et 4. d'argent à trois fasces de gueules qui est de Croÿ; 2. et 3. contre-écartelé, a) et d) d'azur à trois fleurs de lis d'or, qui est de France, b) et c) d'hermine plain, qui est de Bretagne; surtout de gueules à trois roses d'or qui est d'Arenberg; au 2. comme le surtout du premier. L'écu sommé d'une couronne à cinq fleurons.
"A lozengy shield: per pale firstly quartered 1. and 4. argent three fesses gules (Croÿ); 2. and 3. counterquartered a) and d) azure three fleurs de lis or (France) b) and c) ermine (Brittany); escutcheon gules three roses or (Arenberg); second like the escutcheon of the first. The shield surmonted by a crown with five florets."

The Gelre Armorial shows "Or three cinquefoils gules" for Eberhard III of Marck, lord of Arenberg (Here v. Aerberch, #20, folio 27r) and his "usual colours" as "Gules three cinquefoils or".
It seems that the roses of Arenberg have been changed to a single medlar flower. Roses and medlar belong to the same botanical family (Rosaceae).

The Arenberg (aka Aremberg) family emerged in the castle of Aremberg, seat of the County of Arenberg, located in the German Eifel, near Cologne. The oldest known lord of Arenberg is Heinrich ("Heinrich II. de Arberg", 1166/67-1197). In 1299, the last heiress of the first house of Arenberg, Mechthilde (Mathilda) married Count Engelbert II of Marck. The aforementioned Eberhard III ruled the house from 1480 to 1496. In 1541, Count Robert III of Marck-Arenberg died withouth heir and in 1547 his sister Margarethe married Count Johann of Ligne. In 1576, Count Karl of Arenberg (1568-1616) was made Prince of Arenberg by Emperor Maximilian II. In 1644, Philipp-Franz of Arenberg (1640-1674) was made Duke of Arenberg by Kaiser Ferdinand III. On 8 May 1826, King of Hanovre Georges IV set up the Duchy of Arenberg-Meppen for Duke Prosper-Ludwig of Arenberg. On 16 July 1953, King of the Belgians Baudouin I granted the title of Prince (for Belgium) to Eberhard-Engelbert-Anton of Arenberg; the Prince was granted arms including the historical shield of Arenberg.
The website of the Arenberg Foundation lists the titles and arms of the lineage, and shows maps of the Arenberg possessions in the Low Countries, including Drogenbos and Wallers, today in the north of France, where is located the infamous Aremberg Gap (trouée d'Aremberg), a hotspot in the Paris-Roubaix cyclist race, named after the former Arenberg colliery.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat, Christopher Southworth & Ivan Sache, 17 June 2007