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Braine-le-Château (Municipality, Province of Walloon Brabant, Belgium)


Last modified: 2007-10-20 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Braine-le-Chateau]

Municipal flag of Braine-le-Château - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 14 January 2006

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Presentation of Braine-le-Château

The municipality of Braine-le-Château (in Dutch, Kasteelbrakel; 9,517 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,270 ha) is located in Brabant, at mid distance of Brussels and Nivelles. The municipality of Braine-le-Château is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Braine-le-Château and Wauthier-Braine.
There are several other places called Braine in Belgium, such as Braine-l'Alleud (in Dutch, Eigenbrakel) and Braine-le-Comte (in Dutch, s'Gravensbrakel), in Walloon Brabant and Hainaut, respectively.

In 649, Abbess of Mons St. Waudru ceded her "land of Ittre", including Braine, to the Chapter of Mons. Accordingly, Braine had an odd political status since it remained a small enclave of the County of Hainaut within the County of Leuven, part of the Duchy of Brabant. Braine-le-Château was owned by several feudal families. The domain was bought by Jean de Hornes in 1434 and Count de Tour et Taxis in 1670.
Braine-le-Château is named after a castle (château) built in the place called "Les Monts". In the XI-XIIth century, two twinned big artificial hills (mottes) were erected on the top of a spur dominating a village set up on the rivier Hain. Such a twin structure is very unfrequent north of the river Loire. The castle of Braine existed until 1722 but was rebuilt in different places according to the increase of the village. In the beginning of XIIIth century, the lords of Trazegnies, owners of the domain, left the spur and built a squarish castle in the middle of a marshy area; the castle was surrounded by a triple barrier made by the marshes, the rivers and the moats. The castle, located in the heart of the village, was used to control the road Nivelles-Halle. In the XVIth century, the castle was made less defensive and more pleasant to live in by suppressing the southern wing and increasing the size of the windows, allowing the sun to lit the rooms. The castle was burned in 1667 and revamped in 1681, with the addition of a monumental gate. Count Eugène Gaspard de Robiano purchased the castle in 1835 and his descendants still live there.
However, the main monument of Braine is the pillory, the only one in Europe to be still crowned by a lantern. It was built in 1521 and still bears the writing Maximilian de Hornes de Gasbecke Chevalier de lordre de lempe[reur]r Ch[a]rles 1521. (Maximilian de Hornes de Gasbecke Knight of the Order of Emperor Charles). Maximilien de Hornes (1475-1542) was the Chamberlain of Emperor Charles V His tomb and albaster recumbent statue can be seen in the church of Braine. The pillory, where rascals were exposed, was mostly the symbol of the supreme power of the lord. The great square with the pillory has kept two nice houses from the XVIth century, the modern Gendarmerie and the so-called Bailif's House, dated 1534-1540 and once inhabited by the last Bailif of Braine.

Wauthier-Braine developed around two Cistercian abbeys. The nun's abbey, founded in 1231, was located in the heart of the village, whereas the monk's abbey of Nizelles, founded near 1440, was located on the border of Wauthier-Braine and Ophain-Bois-Seigneur-Isaac. The two abbeys were suppressed at the end of the XVIIIth century. The village depended on the Municipality of La Hulpe, in the Duchy of Brabant.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 14 January 2006

Municipal flag of Braine-le-Château

The municipal flag of Braine-le-Château is horizontally divided red-yellow-red-yellow-red.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 21 August 1991 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 18 December 1991, with the following description:
Cinq laizes longitudinales alternativement jaunes et rouges.
The colours of the flag are taken from the arms of the family of Hornes, D'or à trois huchets de gueules virolés d'argent (Or three posthorns gules garnished argent).

According to Servais, the first municipal arms of Braine-le-Château were granted by Royal Decree on 21 July 1923. They are based on a seal, dated from the XVIth century, showing the arms of Martin de Hornes. The first and fourth quarter are the arms of Hornes, whereas the second quarter is "Sable a lion argent" and the third quarter "Ermine a bend gules three scallops or".
After the municipal reform, the municipal arms were changed by replacing the second and third quarters by a quarter "Or two chevrons sable", probably to represent Wauthier-Braine.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 14 January 2006