Last modified: 2005-11-12 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Anderlecht - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 15 May 2005
In the XIth century, Anderlecht (written Anrelech in 1047, Andrelet in
1111, Andreler in 1148 and Anderlech in 1186) was a small village
surrounded by hamlets named Cureghem, Aa and Neerpede. The name of the
city is made of a Celtic root *and or *ander, found in other toponyms
(Andenne, Anderlues, Andernach) but whose meaning has been lost, and the Germanic word lach, river.
The first human settlements in Anderlecht date back to the Age of Stone; wooden huts were built on piles on the right bank of river Senne, on the sandy spur located between the Senne and the Maelbeek. Remains from the Ages of Bronze and Iron were also found in Anderlecht. At the end of the Ist century, an estate (villa) was built on the site of the today's Champ de Sainte-Anne. The villa was located close to a secondary Roman way (diverticulum). Excavations have yielded walls coated with coloured plasters, remains of tiles (tegulae), soil tiles, pottery and ironware.
In the VIth century, the Franks set up a cemetary on the ruins of the villa of Anderlecht. The cemetary included more than 400 tombs, in which arms, jewels and tools have been found.
In the XIth century, according to the 1047 act, Anderlecht was the seat
of a chapter with 18 Canons. In the XVth-XVIth centuries, the chapter
of Anderlecht was a main center of culture and religion in Europe. At
the same time, two domains existed on the banks of the Senne, the
domains of Aa and Anderlecht. Following a marriage, a part of the
domain of Aa was transfered to the family of Walcourt at the end of the XIIIth century, and ceded to the lord of Gaasbeek in the beginning of
the XVth century. In 1356, there was a huge battle in the plain of
Scheut, opposing the people of Brussels to Count of Flanders Louis
because of unpaid taxes.
Duchess Jeanne de Brabant granted in 1393 a chart to Anderlecht, which was incorporated to the Cuve of Brussels. The Cuve included several villages surrounding Brussels and was a forerunner of the region of Brussels-Capital. It existed until the French Revolution. In 1521, the humanist Erasmus Desiderius Roterodamus (1469-1536), better known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, stayed for five months in Anderlecht in the house of his friend Peter Wichman, then Dean of the St. Guidon's chapter. The house is today a museum, known as Erasmus' House. It shows the oldest chart of Brabant (1078), the painting "The Magi's Adoration" by Hieronymus Bosch and 1,200 manuscripts and editions of Erasmus, including his famous "Eulogy of Insanity", published in Strasbourg in 1511.
In 1795, Anderlecht was incorporated into the department of Dyle. After the independence of Belgium, the first municipal elections took place in Anderlecht on 22 October 1830; P. Van Winghen was the first elected Mayor of the city.
There were 1,929 inhabitants in Anderlecht in 1800, 47,929 in 1900 and 88,015 in 2000.
The patron saint of Anderlecht, celebrated on 12 September, is Guy of
Anderlecht (c. 950-c. 1012), aka the Poor Man of Anderlecht, Guido of
Anderlecht, Guidon of Anderlecht.
Quoting Guidon's biography from the Catholic Forum website:
Born in poverty, he was trained in religion by pious parents. For many years he embraced poverty as God's will for him. Cared for the poor and sick in his teens. When he worked the fields, an angel would sometimes man the plow so that Guy could pray undistracted. Hung around the local church so much the priest made him the sacristan; lived in the church, and often spent all night in prayer.
A merchant from Brussels either decided to give the boy a leg up in the world, or that Guy was a bumpkin who could be defrauded; versions vary. Either way, he offered Guy a part share in a new project that could make him rich. In the first ocean-going expedition in the project, the ship sank; Guy took it as a sign that he was right to begin with, and returned to his old life.
Walked to Rome as penance for his bout of greed, then to Jerusalem where he worked for a while as a guide to pilgrims, then back to Brussels. Though he never joined any order or house, he vowed chastity, and devoted most of his time to prayer, and work as a sacristan. Many post-mortem miracles attributed to him. An annual festival grew up in the area around his grave, with most of the activities involving horses and the people who work with them. His grave was forgotten until uncovered by a horse; relics translated to a nearby church in 1076; due to wars, they were moved and hidden in several places for centuries; destroyed by Protestants in the XVIIIth century.
Poor Guidon was indeed completely forgotten until an anonymous canon wrote Vita Guidonis in the beginning of the XIIth century. Today, the St. Guidon's collegiate church is the center of the old city of Anderlecht, Guidon is shown on the municipal arms and celebrated every year by a procession. The yearly market, created in 1825, takes place the first Tuesday after the first Sunday following St. Guidon's Day; the procession takes place on the Saturday preceding the market.
Source: Municipal website
Anderlecht is mostly known for its football club, Royal Sporting Club
Sporting Club Anderlechtois was founded on 27 May 1908 by Charles Roos; after 25 years of existence, the club was confered the title of Royal, on 20 June 1933.
The first stadium of (R) SCA was a bare field located "on the left of the cemetary". The club joined the national series in 1912-1913; on 1 April 1917, the club moved to Parc du Meir, renamed Parc Astrid in 1935 after the tragic death of the queen. The new stadium costed 7,000 francs whereas the member's fee was 3 fransc for three months and the entrance fee was 10 to 12.5 centimes. On 16 April 1921, Anderlecht acceded the First League after a win against FC Liège and appointed its first full-time coach. These early years were difficult for the club, nicknamed "club-elevator" because of its relegation in Second League in 1923, 1926, 1928 and 1931. However, Anderlecht already provided the Belgian national team with the goal-keeper Jean Caudron, the middle-field Charles Demunter and the attacker Fernand Adams.
During tyhe 1934-1935 season, the club was incorporated as a cooperative society, the first stand was built and the club won the Second League Championship. After the Second World War, the managers of RSCA hired for 125,000 francs Jef Mermans, nicknamed "the Bomber from Antwerp" and became one of the best Belgian clubs. RSCA won 27 times the national championship between 1947 and 2004 and eight times the Belgian Cup between 1965 and 1994.
The club won the European Winners' Cup against West Ham (1976; 4-2) and Austria of Vienna (1978; 4-0) and the UEFA Cup against Benfica of Lisbon (1983), but could never win the Champions' League.
The colours of the club have alwys been mauve and white, but their origin is obscure. It is said that Princess Elisabeth once visited Anderlecht in a victoria decorated with mauve and white orchids; other says that mauve and white are ecclesiastic colours, refering to several religious institutes based in Anderlecht. The moist famous of the club players was Paul van Himst.
Source: RSCA official website
Ivan Sache, 15 May 2005
The municipal flag of Anderlecht, as confirmed by the municipal administration, is vertically divided blue-yellow. These are the official colours of the municipality, also present on the municipal coat of arms.
The arms, granted by the Great Heraldic Council on 7 October 1818 and confirmed by Royal Decree on 10 June 1940, are:
Azure Saint Guidon gold.
They show a kneeled Saint Guidon, raising a hand to the sky and holding from the other hand a stick ornated with a small banner; behind him are a plough and two horses, gold on an azure field.
Source: Municipal website
Arnaud Leroy & Ivan Sache, 15 May 2005