Last modified: 2005-11-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: floreffe | flower (white) | letter: f (white) |
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Municipal flag of Floreffe - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 30 May 2005
The municipality of Floreffe (7,349 inhabitants on 31 December 2004, 3,889 ha) is located on the river Sambre, 10 km south-west of Namur and 10 km east of Sambreville. It is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Floreffe (3,461 inh.), Floriffoux (1,119 inh.), Franière (1,809 inh.) and Soye (960 inh.). Floreffe and Franières are urban areas whereas Soye, Floriffoux and the smaller villages of Sovimont, Buzet and Maulenne are rural areas.
The first Prehistoric settlements were found on the rocky spur of
Préat, along the brook Wéry. Then, the settlers moved down to the
confluency of the Wéry and the Sambre and kept the high places for
religious cults. The Celts built the oppidum (fortified camp) of
Sandrau in the middle of the sacred forest of Marlagne. The site was
safe and provided food and other stuff.
In the Merovingian times, the villa (estate) of Floreffe was the center of a big domain belonging to the Pepin ruling family. It was transfered as an alleu (independent domain) to a lord under the Carolingian rule.
Sometime between 1102 and 1121, Godefroid, Count of Namur, bought the
domain and incorporated into his County. Godefroid granted
Floreffe its first known municipal rights. In 1121, he gave part of his
goods and rights to St. Norbert (c. 1080-1134), who found there a
monastery; the charter of the abbey is dated 27 November 1121 and
Floreffe is the second oldest Premontre foundation. Norbert called the
church Salve and the abbey Flos Mariae, the Flower of Mary.
The chronicles of Floreffe record the following event: While
celebrating mass at Floreffe, the saint saw a drop of blood issuing
from the Sacred Host to the paten. Distrusting his own eyes, he said to
the deacon who assisted him: "Brother, do you see what I see?" "Yes,
Father" answered the deacon, "I see a drop of blood which gives out a
brilliant light". The altar stone on which St. Norbert celebrated mass
is still preserved at Floreffe.
The second abbot of Floreffe, Almaric, was commissioned by Pope Innocent II to preach the Gospel in Palestine. Accompanied by a band of chosen religious of Floreffe, he journeyed to Holy Land and founded the abbey of St. Habacuc (1137). Philip Count of Namur, gave to Weric, the sixth abbot, a large piece of the Holy Cross which he had received from his brother Baldwin, Emperor of Constantinople. The chronicles record that twice, namely in 1204 and 1254, blood flowed from this relic on the Feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross. At the suppression of the Abbey of Floreffe, the relic was removed to a place of safety. When a few years ago, the Norbertine canons, who had been expelled from France, bought an old Augustinian monastery at Bois-Seigneur-Isaac, this precious relic was restored to them, so that it is again in the custody of the sons of St. Norbert.
All the abbeys and convents founded by the abbey of Floreffe have ceased to exist with the exception of Postel and Leffe. Louis de Fromantau, elected in 1791, was the 55th and last abbot of Floreffe. When the French Republican army overran Belgium the religious were expelled, and the abbey with all its possessions was confiscated. Put up for sale in 1797, it was bought back for the abbot and his community. After the Concordat the abbot and a few of his religious returned to the abbey, but so great were the difficulties that after the death of the last religious the abbey became the property of the Bishop of Namur and is now the seat of a flourishing seminary.
In the XIIth and XIIIth century, Floreffe was an important
administrative, religious and economic center in the County of Namur,
with a market hall. In the middle of the XIIth century, Count Henry the
Blind fortified the city, which was often besieged. At the end of the
XIIIth century, a company of crossbowmen was set up, who were granted
privileges and exemptions.
The Premontre monks made of Floreffe a place of hospitium: room and board were provided to the poor passing through the city. The cult of the Blessed Virgin spread to Floreffe; in 1437, the Notre-Dame brotherhood was formed. The abbey and the city were in permanent struggle for the possessions and the rights on the woods of Floreffe. The abbey eventually won in 1777.
Industrialization of the valley of Sambre started in the middle of the
XIXth century, with the inauguration of the railway Liège-Mons (1843),
the opening of a chemical plant, quickly replaced by a mirror factory
(glacerie de Floreffe), the opening of the St. Barbe's colliery in
Floriffoux, and the intensive extraction of limestone in Floreffe and
Franière. Small businesses emerged and declined, such as a bolt
factory in Franière and a feather workshop in Floreffe.
In the 1960s, the banks of the Sambre were straightened and the lock-dam of Floriffoux was modernized. The companies Materne and Remacle settled in Floriffoux.
Ivan Sache, 23 May 2005
The municipal flag of Floreffe is blue with a white rose and a white
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, it was adopted by the Municipal Council on 30 March 1992 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 8 December 1992, with the following description:
Bleu chargé d'une rose de jardin tigée et feuillée de quatre pièces, posée au premier tiers du battant, et d'une lettre capitale F posée au second tiers, toutes deux blanches.
The description says that the rose has a stem and four leaves. The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, which are unsurprisingly the former arms of the abbey of Floreffe.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 23 May 2005