Brabant is an old Duchy. It is first mentioned in 1101. In 1106 Godfried
of Leuven became count. His successors adapted the name and title Duke
of Brabant and also adapted a lion as their arms. The colors of the arms
are known since the middle of the 13th century. In the 14th century the
nails and tongue became red. The arms haven't changed since then. The dukes
from different dynasties quartered their ancestral arms with the lion.
During the Dutch Republic the Staten of Brabant continued the lion as arms
of Brabant. The arms are identical to the arms of Belgium, which are also
derived from Brabant.
History of the province
It is not known for sure which ancient tribes lived in Brabant in the Old
Ages. In the Middle Ages, it was occupied by Salic Franks, and was first
a part of Austrasia, later of Lorraine, and since the 10th century, it
formed the county of Leuven, which became the duchy of Brabant in the 12th
century. In the 13th century, it contained the present-day provinces of
Antwerp, Brabant Walloon, Northern Brabant and Vlaams-Brabant, and Brussels.
The manor of Mechelen, however, was a part of the episcopal principality
of Liège. In the 15th century, Philip III le Bon (the Good)
united most of the other regions of the Low Countries, including Brabant,
under his power, and it became the centre of the Bourgondian Empire, and
later the Seventeen Provinces. During the Eighty Year War, Spain had to
give up Brabant to the United Netherlands. South-Brabant remained a duchy,
which, like the rest of the Southern provinces, came under Austrian and
later on French authority. The Belgian heir to the throne still is called
the Duke of Brabant.
"Sable, a lion rampant or, armed and langued gules. The shield is
crested by a duke's coronet of five leaves and three diadems or, lined
gules, turned up with ermine. Supporters: two lions rampant or, armed and
langued gules. "
Sable, a lion rampant or, tongued and nailed gules
History of the lion of Brabant
The lion appears for the first time on a flag, depicted on a coin, minted
under the reign of Godfrey III, count of Leuven and duke of Lower-Lorraine
(1142-1190). His son Henry was regent from 1183 until 1190, and on a coin
from that period, there appears again a flag with a lion, having as inscription
"GODEFRID". He appears reversed on the other side, on a shield, with inscription
"HENRIC SCU[D]I LEO". Henry, the later Henry I, duke of Lower-Lorraine
and Brabant (1190-1235), thus placed the lion on a shield. On his seal
of 1192, again the lion appears on a shield, held by a knight. The lion,
which first was a symbol of Lower-Lorraine, became the arms of Brabant
in the 13th century.
As to the colours of the arms, in 1234 in a Crusade against the Stedingen
in East-Frisia, Henry I supposedly used a black flag, with on the one side
the Holy Mary in an aureole, and on the other side a lion or, tongued and
nailed gules. It is doubtful that the lion was already tongued and nailed
gules at this time, however, but it is sure that he was golden. Henry
III, duke of Brabant (1248-1261), too, used a black shield with a golden
lion, as well as John I (1267-1294), who didn't change it after
the battle near Woeringen. His successor John II (1294-1312) did
change it, by quartering the arms of Brabant with the arms of Limburg.
1938 Parade flag
In 1938 Queen Wilhelmina had reigned the Netherlands for 40 years. On that
occasion a lot of municipalities paraded in front of HM with their flags,
which consisted of the provincial flag with the municipal Coat of Arms in the canton
(or something...). Those municipal flags can only be considered as 'curiosities',
while the status of the provincial flags is not quite clear. However North
Brabant (and Friesland) used their normal flag.