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Ittre (Municipality, Province of Walloon Brabant, Belgium)


Last modified: 2007-12-02 by ivan sache
Keywords: ittre | itter | lion (white) | interyacht |
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[Flag of Ittre]

Municipal flag of Ittre - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 21 April 2005

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Presentation of Ittre and its villages

The municipality of Ittre (in Dutch, Itter; 6,087 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,492 hectares) is considered as the geographical center of Belgium (50º39'N by 4º1'E), symbolized by the viewpoint indicator placed in front of the town hall. The indicator is made with two paper millstones taken from the ancient mill of Samme. Ittre is located 30 km south of Brussels and 15 km north-west of Waterloo.
Ittre is an interesting area for geologists. There are remains of ancient volcanic activity, such as a crater in Quenast, layers of volcanic ashes in Fauquez and a galenite lode in Virginal. The old, metamorphized platform of Brabant (primary era) is also visible, as well as contact zones, which are evidences of the Hercynian and Caledonian foldings. The platform is often covered by tertiary sand, fistulous sandstone and clay.
The municipality of Ittre is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Ittre, Haut-Ittre and Virginal-Samme.

Ittre was named Ittrae ("spa town") in the Gallo-Roman times. A tradition says that the church of Ittre was built in 642 by Sigebert III, King of Austrasia, but the first written source for Ittre dates back to 877. In the Middle Ages, the domain of Ittre belonged to the Chapter of Nivelles and was later divided into smaller domains, the most important of them being Ittre and Fauquez (then spelled Facuweis). The lords of Ittre (houses of Ittre, Rifflart and Trazegnies d'Ittre) and Fauquez (Houses of Ittre, Enghien, Fauquez and Herzelles) were in constant struggle until the beginning of the XVIIIth centuries for all kinds of excuses: the jurisdiction, the sovereignty and even the precedence in the town hall and church of Ittre. The domains of Fauquez and Ittre became a Marquisate in 1689 and 1703, respectively. Guillaume-Philippe d'Herzelles, the first Marquis de Fauquez, was appointed in 1690 State Councillor and Chancellor of Brabant by King of Spain Charles II. Ambroise-Joseph d'Herzelles, the third Marquis de Fauquez was appointed Superintendant and Director General of the Finances and Domains of the Low Countries by Empress Maria-Theresia.

The church of Ittre hosts the miraculous statue of Notre-Dame d'Ittre (XIIIth century). In 1336, the statue, then owned by the abbey of Bois-Seigneur-Isaac, was trailed from village to village in order to stop black plague; after the disease had disappeared when the statue was in Ittre, the inhabitants of the village refused to give it back to Bois-Seigneur-Isaac. The ecclesiastical courts confirmed several times the rights of Ittre on the miraculous statue.
The 15 August procession was set up in 1384 and never stopped since then; Notre-Dame d'Ittre is invoked against rupture, called in Walloon câssur. In 1796, nuns from the abbey of Aywières were expelled and settled in the castle of Fauquez in 1804; as a reward, they placed Ittre under the protection of their first abbess, St. Lutgarde (1182-1246) and offered the saint's relics to the parish of Ittre in 1819; the saint's shrine, made in Liège in 1624, is kept in the St. Rèmy church (XIXth century) of Ittre, as well as a sedes sapientiae from Bois-Seigneur-Isaac. I won't be surprised if this "Wisdom Chair" were used to transport the miraculous statue during the procession, since it was "borrowed" from the abbey in 1336 too.
Ittre has preserved the village smithy, active since 1701. The smithy is now a Museum, where you can organize your wedding (Mariage à la forge) and receive the official Happiness' Recipe (Recette du Bonheur). Near the smithy stands the former brewery (XVIth century), which hosts today the Folklore Museum.

Virginal already existed in the Roman times as the village of Versus Altum, this name stressing the elevated location of the village. Hundreds of medals and bronze artefacts, as well as terracotta vases have been excavated. Around 655, St. Renelde, daughter of Count of Hainaut Waubert III, bequeathed Virginal and Saintes to the abbey of Lobbes. Since the abbey belonged to the Principality of Liège, Virginal was an enclave. For a long period, Virginal remained free of any tax and its inhabitants developed their own habits. Since the XIVth century, Virginal and Fauquez shared the same lord, representing the abbey of Lobbes as its intendant (avoué) (houses of Virginal, Enghien, Fauquez, Herzelles).
The domain of Samme belonged to Ittre until 1796. After a few years of autonomy, Samme was incorporated into Virginal on 22 January 1808. Samme belonged to the Chapter of Nivelles, which built there the Tower of Asquempont at the end of the XVth century. The tower is one of the few remaining isolated towers that watched and defended Brabant. The tower watched the ford on the Senette and Hainaut. The avoué of Samme belonged to the houses of Enghien and Fauquez.
Glassworks were founded in Fauquez in the beginning of the XXth century by Arthur Brancart. Brancart promoted social capitalism and built row of houses for his workers, a chapel dedicated to St. Lutgarde and a theater, whose gate bears the motto Bien travailler, bien s'amuser (Working well, having great fun!). The factory was closed in 1979.

Haut-Ittre (Upper-Ittre) was formerly located in Hainaut. Ittre was then named Bas-Ittre (Lower-Ittre). Braine-le-Château and Haut-Ittre were given to the Chapter of Mons by its founder, St. Waudru around 650. The Count of Hainaut, as the Abbot of the Chapter, was represented by an avoué. Haut-Ittre was indeed a dependency of Braine-le-Château, ruled by the powerful families of Hornes and Tour et Taxis. The members of the latter family were hereditary Grand Masters of the Postal Service of the Empire; in 1681, their domain of Braine-le-Château and Haut-Ittre became a Principality.


Ivan Sache, 22 April 2005

Municipal flag of Ittre

The municipal flag of Ittre is green with a white lion armed, langued and crowned yellow.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 17 July 1998 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 11 September 1998, as Vert au lion blanc, armé, lampassé et couronné de jaune.

The coat of arms of the municipality of Ittre is:
Parti au 4 de gueules au chevron d'or, au 2 de sinople au lion d'argent, armé, lampassé et couronné d'or, à une pointe retraite d'argent brochante sur la partition et chargée d'une clé de sable posée en pal, le panneton évidé en losange et tourné à senestre.
These arms are made of the former arms of the Marquisate of Herzelles ("Gules a chevron or", used today by the municipality of Herzele) and of the Barony of Ittre ("Vert a lion argent..."), granted to the municipality of Ittre by Royal Decree in 1951, and of the arms of Virginal ("Argent a key sable"), granted by Royal Decree in 1838 on the basis of arms granted by Charles V. The key belongs to St. Peter, the saint patron of the abbey of Lobbes and of the village
Servais shows for the arms of Ittre two shields side by side, "Gules a chevron or" and "Vert a lion argent armed langued and crowned or chief argent three eagles sable".

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 23 April 2005

International Yachting Club Ittre - Interyacht

International Yachting Club Ittre (IYCI, Interyacht), founded in 1970, is active in sailing, motorboat cruising, and waterskiing.

The flag of IYIC, as shown on the ICYI website, is white with the club logotype. Designed by founder member Christian De Brabanter, the logotype is made of a yellow letter "Y" placed before and above a green letter "i" (lower case, but large) and in front of both, a white letter "C", whose shape is made out of rope but suggesting a steering wheel. The black words "INTER" and "YACHT" accompany the monogram at the base.

The burgee of IYIC is shown on a photography; it is blue, completely bordered in white, with the club logotype on a white disk near the hoist, and white words in the fly "INTER" / "YACHT" / "ITTRE".

Jan Mertens, 28 February 2007

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