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Croix (Municipality, Nord, France)

Last modified: 2021-01-30 by ivan sache
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Flag of Croix, current and former flags - Images by Olivier Touzeau & Tomislav Todorović, respectively, 10 July 2020

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Presentation of Croix

The municipality of Croix (21,041 inhabitants in 2017; 444 ha; Roubaix.

Croix, like the neighboring towns, boomed in the 19th century with the emergence of textile industry. Beforehand, weavers worked at home, in the aftermath of permission given in 1469 by Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold to the farmers of Roubaix "to produce cloth from any wool". The powerful weaver's guild of Lille attempted by any means to suppress local competitors. An Order issued on 3 March 1609 by Archduke Albert, Governor of the Low Countries, created districts in Roubaix, Tourcoing and Wasquehal, whose villagers were allowed to weave. Since the weavers of the biggest towns organized their defense, the Lille weavers exerted pressure on the smallest villages, Croix included. On 11 March 1621, Arnould, Bailiff of the Greater Council of Lille, came to Croix and Wasquehal with 18 armed men to seize and destroy the weaving mills and fine their owners. Expelled from Croix, he went to Roubaix where he was threatened the local weavers, who answered him by throwing stones. The bailiff's troops moved to Lys-lez-Lannoy, where the Roubaix weavers threatened to burn down the house where they had sheltered, prompting them to shamefully go back to Lille.
When Lille was definitively reincorporated to the Kingdom of France in 1667, the Lille weavers aired that the king would immediately ban weaving from all the other places, as a reward for the surrounding of the town. The threatened weavers were offered jobs in Germany, England and the Low Countries, as reported on 14 December 1669 by Antoine Palais, parish priest in Croix. Le Pelletier de Souzy, Intendant of Flanders, soon debunked the rumors.
The Lille weavers did not give up. In 1733, they filed a complaint to the Intendent of Lille, claiming that Croix and Wasquehal were not part of the district of Roubaix, where weaving was authorized. The Archduke's Order, however, specifically listed the two villages as parts of the district. The local weavers argued that weaving had been continuously practiced since the 15th century, when weavers expelled from Arras by the French conquest set up in different villages, "and have been since then producing cloth in compliance with the rules, without trouble and impeachment". A census established in 1798 indicated that 250 out of the 698 inhabitants of Croix lived from agriculture, while another 267 lived from weaving.

The Holden wool-combing factory (Peignage Holden) was established in 1852 in Croix by the industrialist Sir Isaac Holden (1807-1897), co-inventor of the square-motion wool-combing machine, who commissioned his nephew, Isaac Holden Crothers, to manage it. Holden left France in 1938, selling the factory to the Wool-Combers Union. Ruined during the Second World War like most of the town and the buildings funded by the Holden family, the factory was restored in 1956 by the Trois Suisses silk mill, which left the site in 2013.
[A. Delmasure. 1969 Évolution d'un village de la Châtellenie de Lille : Croix du XIe au XXe siècle Revue du Nord, 51:200, 105-112]

The Saint-Martin church was erected from 1847-1851 to replace the church built in 1805, deemed too small for the ever-increasing population of the town. The parish priest, Louis Dutriez (1808-1887), commissioned the architect Charles Leroy (1816-1879), who would subsequently design another 37 churches, the Notre-Dame de la Treille cathedral in Lille included and 5 chapels in the department of Nord. As a reward, Leroy was erected Knight of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great by the Holy See.
Leroy promoted a Neo-Gothic style based on the local late medieval Gothic style. Thirty years later, the church, still the only church in the town, was once again deemed too small for the population that reached 7,500; the parish priest, Louis Benoît Derain (1833-1887) commissioned the architect Alphonse Dubuisson (1839-1920) to increase the building. The work, performed between 1879 and 1883, respected Leroy's original design. Georges Decock, parish priest from 1919 to 1934, embellished the church with several artworks, the most famous of them being Rédemption, a triptych painted by Pharaon de Winter (1849-1924). He also designed the garden surrounding the church, where he installed a sculpture representing the Holy Trinity (14th century).

Villa Cavrois (website), designed for the industrialist Paul Cavrois (1890-1965) by the cubist architect Rob Mallet-Stevens (1886-1945) is the other emblematic monument of Croix. Cavrois hired in 1925 the regionalist architect Jacques Gréber (1882-1962) to design his family estate on a plot located in Beaumont, then in the countryside. After visiting the Exposition des Arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris the same year, he changed his mind and hired in 1929 Mallet-Stevens. The architect was already famous for the design of the Villa Noailles in Hyères (1922-1923) inspired by the Dutch movement De Stijl, of the buildings located in Paris (1936-1927) in the street that would be named for him, and of the scenery of some 20 movies (1920-1928), the most famous of them being L'inhumaine (Marcel L'Herbier, 1924; considered as the masterpiece of French silent film). The successful design of Villa Cavrois probably contributed to the appointment of Mallet-Stevens as director of the École des beaux-arts of Lille in 1935.
Sold in 1988, Villa Cavrois was planned to destruction. The defense association founded on 23 November 1990 by Richard Klein and supported by architects Norman Foster and Renzo Piano obtained the registration of the villa as an historical monument on 10 December 1990, against the will of the owners, who did not even protect it from looters. Villa Cavrois and a part of its park were eventually acquired by the French state in 2001. The full restoration of the villa and the park was completed in 2015.

Ivan Sache, 3 August 2020

Flag of Croix

The flag of Croix (photo) is white with the municipal logo, which was adopted in 2011.

The use of the azure blue color, specific to the town of Croix since its origins, highlights the logo with vitality and emphasizes its idiosyncrasy. The "X" turned to the right is a symbol of opening and recalls the original cross azure.
The colors are specified as follows.

Pantone 285C
CMYK    100 25 0 0
RGB     35 125 198
RAL     5015
Hex     #217dc6
Vinyl   S5293B7042

Pantone 5435C
CMYK    30 15 8 0
RGB     201 208 225
RAL     7042
Hex     c9d0e1
Vinyl   S5428B

The font for the writing is DIN.
[Graphic charter]

The former flag of Croix (photo, photo) was white with the greater coat of arms of the municipality.
"Argent a cross azure" were the arms of the Croix lineage, lords of the town until the end of the 15th century. They were succeeded by related lineages: Noyelles, erected Counts of Croix on 13 April 1617; Croix-Wayembourg, bearing "Argent a cross azure a bordure engrailed gules"; Beauffort; Bauffremez; and Frémont de Rosay.
[Armorial des communes du département du Nord, 1909]

Walter de Crois is mentioned in 1136 on the Charter issued by Theubald, Count of Flanders, while a manor located in Croix is listed in 1066 on Baldwin V's Charter, probably a possession of Walter's father or grandfather.
The Croix lineage was of high and old nobility. Three lords of Croix went on crusades. Among them, Gilles de Croix must have been member of the council of Countess Margaret of Flanders, as evidenced by the official documents he signed in 1235 (a donation to the poor of the town of Lille), 1244 (an agreement with the Notre-Dame church of Cambrai), and 1245 (the peace signed with King of France Louis XI).
As a lord of a certain significance, Jehan de Croix was allowed in 1410 by John Fearless, Duke of Burgundy and Count of Flanders, to establish "in his parish of Croix" a crossbowman's company, composed of up to 30 members led by a constable, "for the sake of the safety and defense of the village and the fortified manor".
[A. Delmasure. 1969 Évolution d'un village de la Châtellenie de Lille : Croix du XIe au XXe siècle Revue du Nord, 51:200, 105-112]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 3 August 2020