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Lens (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-02-23 by ivan sache
Keywords: lens | lions; 3 (white) |
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[Flag of Lens]

Municipal flag of Lens - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 December 2005

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Presentation of Lens

The municipality of Lens (4,042 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 4,921 ha) is located on the river Dendre, at mid-distance between Ath and Mons. The municipality of Lens is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Lens, Bauffe, Cambron-Saint-Vincent, Lombise and Montignies-lez-Lens.

Lens was mentioned for the first time, already as Lens, in 972. Later written names of the village are Lans / Lins (1065), Lensis (1070), Lansium (1072) and Lentiacum. The etymology of Lens is dubious: Chotin says that Lens comes from the celtic root *lein, "a hill", while Petit believes that Lens comes from the Germanic word leens, a place near a marsh. Vincent rather believes that the place was settled by a Gallo-Roman lord named Lentius.
The oldest known lord of Lens is Gauthier I of Lens, listed on a chart of King of France Philippe I, dated 1065. The very same Gauthier is also listed on chart of Count of Hainaut Baudouin II, dated 1084. His two sons, Gauthier II and Hughes I sealed a chart for Gérard, Bishop of Cambrai, in 1092. Gauthier II was no longer mentioned after 1103, while Hughes I was still listed on documents dated 1114, 1126 and 1135. Among their successors, Gauthier IV (or V) of Lens took part to the Crusade in 1202 and came back, since he sealed a chart in 1208. In 1214, Gauthier V (most probably) served as a witness for the treaty signed by King of France Philippe-Auguste and Countess Jeanne of Hainaut. His sister Béatrice of Lens founded in 1216 the abbey of Epinlieu in Mons.
Eustache II, lord of Lens in 1261-1282 was Bailiff of Hainaut. His son Jean III died without heirs and the domain was transferred to Gérard of Rassenghien, Lord of Lens and Liedekerke. He was succeeded by his son-in-law Arnould of Gavere, lord of Lens, Liedekerke and Herchies. Arnould's grandson, Philippe of Gavere, was killed together with his brother Henri during the battle of Ajincourt, in 1415. The domain of Lens was later transferred to Chancellor Nicolas Rolin, whose son Antoine de Rolin was Grand Bailiff of Hainaut in 1467-1497. The later lords of Lens belonged to the families of Berlaymont, Egmont and Pignatelli, until Casimir Pignatelli sold Lens to Jean-François de Sécus in 1768.

Before the building of the railway, Lens was a convenient pit stop for people traveling between Mons and Ath and was famous for its inns and pubs. The village grew up around the Abbaye des Trinitaires, founded by the Knights Templars in the XIIth century. In the past, the main industries in Lens were tanneries located on the Dendre and a sugarhouse.
Lens is the birth town of the painter, sculptor and cartoonist Paul Cuvelier.

Source: Heraldus website

Ivan Sache, 25 August 2007

Municipal flag of Lens

The municipal flag of Lens is red with three white lions 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 22 March 1999 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 30 April 1999, as Rouge à trois lions blancs armés, lampassés et couronnés de jaune.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, De gueules à trois lions d'argent armés, lampassés et couronnés d'or (Gules three lions argent armed langued and crowned or).

In 1294, Jean III of Lens bore "Gules three lions argent armed langued and crowned azure". The lords of Gavere, who also bore a red shield with three lions, added an engrailed border sable when they became lords of Lens. In the famous Album of Croÿ, the village of Lens is shown with the arms "Gules three lions argent" (which are the modern arms and banner of arms of the municipality of Gavere!).

Source: Heraldus website

The Gelre Armorial indeed shows "Or a lion gules armed langued and crowned azure a border engrailed sable" for Arnould of Gavere (H. v. Lens, #982, folio 82r).

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 25 August 2007