Last modified: 2007-11-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: grez-doiceau | graven |
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Municipal flag of Grez-Doiceau - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 7 June 2005
The municipality of Grez-Doiceau (in Dutch, Graven; 12,473 inhabitants; 5,541 ha) is located in the eastern part of Walloon Brabant, on the linguistic border between French and Dutch, here the border with Flemish Brabant. The municipality of Grez-Doiceau is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Grez-Doiceau, Archennes (in Dutch, Eerken), Biez, Bossut-Gottechain and Nethen.
In 2002, the road RN25 was extended; during the preliminary boring near Gottechain, a Merovingian cemetary was found, with more than 300 tombs that have been systematically excavated. The jewels of the "Lady of Grez" are shown to the public in Namur. The woman had in the mouth a gold coin portraying the Merovingian King Théodebert I. Her necklace was decorated with three cross-shaped pendants. The tombs date back to the V-VIIIth centuries, when the Christian religion progressively superseded paganism in northern Gaul.
Around 1650, a burgher from Wavre settled in Grez-Doiceau to
exploit chalk. Chalk extraction remained the main activity in the village
until the middle of the XIXth century, when the former galleries were
reused to grow mushrooms on horse manure. Mushroom cultivation ceased
after the Second World War.
The St.Georges' church of Grez-Doiceau was completely rebuilt in 1760-1772, except the Romanesque western tower, erected with sandstones in the XIIth century.
Grez-Doiceau is the origin of the Belgian community in Wisconsin, USA, founded in 1853 by ten Walloon families. The event is commemorated by a plaque unveiled in 1988 on the town hall of Grez-Doiceau. The migration movement then spread to the region of Namur; the Belgian colony, settled today in the north-east of Wisconsin, has more than 8,000 members and is the most important Walloon rural community in the USA. The history of the migration is related in the book De Grez-Doiceau au Wisconsin by Jean Ducat (De Boeck-Wesmael, Brussels, 1986).
Ivan Sache, 8 July 2007
The municipal flag of Grez-Doiceau is vertically divided in six red and
white vertical stripes.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 16 March 1999 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 15 July 2003.
The flag is the rotated banner of arms of the former lords of Grez/Grave.
An illegitimate branch of the ancient family of Grez took the Dutch name of Van Grave; these lords were vassals of the Duke of Brabant and bore "Per fess gules and argent". These arms are shown on the Gelre Armorial (Die He. v. Grave, #864, folio 74v).
In 1482, the seal of Grez showed St. Georges with a lance and a flag charged with a fess (for Grave?) and the word Georgius. In 1902, this seal was officially conferred to the municipality of Grez-Doiceau; in 1978, it was transferred to the new municipality of Grez-Doiceau.
The coat of arms granted to the municipality in 1999 is De gueules au chevalier armé de toutes pièces, monté et galopant à senestre, d'argent (Gules a knight argent armed, mounting and galoping sinister). On the arms, the knight's pennant is not in colour but showed by black lines on a white background.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 8 July 2007