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Anderlecht (Municipality, Region of Brussels-Capital, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-06-26 by ivan sache
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Flag of Anderlecht - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 15 May 2005

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Presentation of Anderlecht

Anderlecht (97,601 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 1,784 ha; municipal website) is one of the 19 municipalities constituting the region of Brussels-Capital. Like the other municipalities, Anderlecht is bilingual but has the same name in French and Dutch.

In the 11th century, Anderlecht (written Anrelech in 1047, Andrelet in 1111, Andreler in 1148, and Anderlech in 1186) was a small village surrounded by hamlets named Cureghem, Aan and Neerpede. The name of the town is made of a Celtic root *and or *ander, found in other toponyms (Andenne, Anderlues, Andernach) but whose meaning has been lost, and the Germanic word lach, "a river".
The first human settlements in Anderlecht date back to the Age of Stone; wooden huts were built on piles on the right bank of river Senne, on the sandy spur located between the Senne and the Maelbeek. Remains from the Ages of Bronze and Iron were also found in Anderlecht. At the end of the 1st century, an estate (villa) was built on the site of the today's Champ de Sainte-Anne. The villa was located close to a secondary Roman way (diverticulum). Excavations have yielded walls coated with coloured plasters, remains of tiles (tegulae), soil tiles, pottery and ironware.
In the 6th century, the Franks set up a cemetery on the ruins of the villa of Anderlecht. The cemetery included more than 400 tombs, in which arms, jewels and tools have been found.

In the 11th century, according to the 1047 document, Anderlecht was the seat of a Chapter served by 18 Canons. In the 15th-16th centuries, the Chapter of Anderlecht was a main center of culture and religion in Europe. At the same time, two domains existed on the banks of the Senne, Aa and Anderlecht. Following a marriage, a part of the domain of Aa was transferred to the family of Walcourt at the end of the 13th century, and ceded to the lord of Gaasbeek in the beginning of the 15th century. In 1356, there was a huge battle in the plain of Scheut, opposing the militia of Brussels to Count of Flanders Louis because of unpaid taxes.
Duchess Jeanne of Brabant granted in 1393 a charter to Anderlecht, which was incorporated to the Cuve of Brussels. A forerunner of the Region of Brussels-Capital, the Cuve, incorporating several villages surrounding Brussels, existed until the French Revolution.
In 1521, the humanist Erasmus Desiderius Roterodamus (1469-1536), better known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, stayed for five months in Anderlecht in the house of his friend Peter Wichman, then Dean of the St. Guido Chapter. Today the Erasmus' House Museum, the house shows the oldest Charter of Brabant (1078), the painting "The Magi's Adoration" by Hieronymus Bosch, and 1,200 manuscripts and editions of Erasmus, including his famous "Eulogy of Insanity", published in Strasbourg in 1511.
There were 1,929 inhabitants in Anderlecht in 1800, 47,929 in 1900 and 88,015 in 2000.

The patron saint of Anderlecht, celebrated on 12 September, is Guy of Anderlecht (c. 950-c. 1012), aka the Poor Man of Anderlecht, Guido of Anderlecht, Guidon of Anderlecht.
Born in poverty, he was trained in religion by pious parents. For many years he embraced poverty as God's will for him. Cared for the poor and sick in his teens. When he worked the fields, an angel would sometimes man the plow so that Guy could pray undistracted. Hung around the local church so much the priest made him the sacristan; lived in the church, and often spent all night in prayer.
A merchant from Brussels either decided to give the boy a leg up in the world, or that Guy was a bumpkin who could be defrauded; versions vary. Either way, he offered Guy a part share in a new project that could make him rich. In the first ocean-going expedition in the project, the ship sank; Guy took it as a sign that he was right to begin with, and returned to his old life.
Walked to Rome as penance for his bout of greed, then to Jerusalem where he worked for a while as a guide to pilgrims, then back to Brussels. Though he never joined any order or house, he vowed chastity, and devoted most of his time to prayer, and work as a sacristan. Many post-mortem miracles attributed to him. An annual festival grew up in the area around his grave, with most of the activities involving horses and the people who work with them. His grave was forgotten until uncovered by a horse; relics translated to a nearby church in 1076; due to wars, they were moved and hidden in several places for centuries; destroyed by Protestants in the 18th century.
[Catholic Saints]

Indeed, poor Guidon was completely forgotten until an anonymous canon wrote Vita Guidonis in the beginning of the 12th century. Today, the St. Guidon's collegiate church is the center of the old town of Anderlecht, while Guidon is shown on the municipal arms and celebrated every year by a procession. The yearly market, created in 1825, takes place the first Tuesday after the first Sunday following St. Guidon's Day; the procession takes place on the Saturday preceding the market.

Ivan Sache, 15 May 2005

Flag of Anderlecht

The flag of Anderlecht, as confirmed by the municipal administration, is vertically divided blue-yellow. These are the official colours of the municipality, also present on the municipal coat of arms.

The arms, granted by the Great Heraldic Council on 7 October 1818 and confirmed by Royal Decree on 10 June 1940, are "Azure Saint Guidon or".
They show a kneeled Saint Guidon, raising a hand to the sky and holding from the other hand a stick ornated with a small banner; behind him are a plough and two horses, or on a field azure.

Arnaud Leroy & Ivan Sache, 15 May 2005

RSC Anderlecht football club

Sporting Club Anderlechtois (SCA; website), founded on 27 May 1908 by Charles Roos, was conferred the title of "Royal", on 20 June 1933, to celebrate the club's 25th anniversary.
The first stadium of SCA was a bare field located "on the left of the cemetery". The club joined the national series in 1912-1913; on 1 April 1917, the club moved to Parc du Meir, renamed to Parc Astrid in 1935 after the tragic death of the Queen. The new stadium costed 7,000 francs whereas the member's fee was 3 francs for three months and the entrance fee was 10 to 12.5 centimes. On 16 April 1921, Anderlecht acceeded the First League after a win against FC Liège and appointed its first full-time coach. These early years were difficult for the club, nicknamed "club-elevator" because of its relegation in Second League in 1923, 1926, 1928 and 1931. However, Anderlecht already supplied the Belgian national team with the goal-keeper Jean Caudron, the middle-field Charles Demunter and the attacker Fernand Adams.
During the 1934-1935 season, the club was incorporated as a cooperative society, the first stand was built and the club won the Second League Championship. After the Second World War, the managers of RSCA hired for 125,000 francs Jef Mermans, nicknamed "the Antwerp Bomber" and the club became one of the best Belgian clubs. RSCA won 27 times the national championship between 1947 and 2004 and eight times the Belgian Cup between 1965 and 1994.
The club won twice the European Winners' Cup, against West Ham (1976; 4-2) and Austria of Vienna (1978; 4-0), and the UEFA Cup against Benfica Lisbon (1983), but could never win the Champions' League. The most famous of the club players is Paul van Himst.

The colours of the club have always been mauve and white, but their origin is obscure. It is said that Princess Elisabeth once visited Anderlecht in a victoria decorated with mauve and white orchids; other says that mauve and white are ecclesiastic colours, referring to several religious institutes based in Anderlecht.

[Flag of RSCA]

Flag awarded to RSCA by the Region of Brussels-Capital - Image by Mark Sensen & Ivan Sache, 9 December 2008

A flag vertically divided mauve-white with the Brussels iris, mauve and outlined in white, overall was ordered by the Ministry of the Finances of the Region of Brussels-Capital, as part of a series of flags granted to the clubs that are allocated funds by the Region for the training of young players. Minister Guy Vanhengel presented the flag to Anderlecht on 10 July 2007.

In 2008, very strict rules were imposed to the supporters of Anderlecht attending the matchagainst Club Bruges. In the past, more than 5,000 Anderlecht fans used totravel to Bruges; in 1999, the brand new stand of the stadium was looted by the most excited "supporters", 400 seats being completely destroyed.
Now less than 1,500 Anderlecht fans are allowed to attend the match and the two clubs have agreed on a code made of 12 rules; flags are addressed by rule #8, as follows:
Banderoles and flags should not be bigger than 1.50 m by 2 m and can only bear the official logo, the official name and the official club colours of Anderlecht. Flags should be fastened to a tube made of a single piece and able to bend in an angle of at least 90 degrees. The flag should remained fastened to the staff.
[Sport Wereld, 15 November 2008]

Ivan Sache, 9 December 2008