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Estaires (Municipality, Nord, France)


Last modified: 2021-02-13 by ivan sache
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Flag of Estaires - Image by Ivan Sache, 14 December 2009

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Presentation of Estaires

The municipality of Estaires (in Dutch, Stegers; 6,000 inhabitants; municipal website) is located on the river Lys (in Dutch, Leie).
The area around Estaires was conquered by Julius Caesar in 56 BP. A town called Minariacum was built around a ford by which an important Roman way crossed the Lys. The name of Minariacum might come from minor aqua ("low waters"). The ancient ford is now the bridge of Estaires.
In 766, a place named Stegras was mentioned among the possessions of the St. Vaast abbey in Arras. The name of the place was later changed to Stegers and eventually to Estaires. Stegras might come from Celtic steer, "a fordable river", or Flemish steg, "a wooden bridge".

On 16 May 1678, France and the Netherlands exchanged several enclaves, Estaires being definitively incorporated to France. In 1789, Estaires had 5,225 inhabitants and was the most important center of table linen production in the north of France. On 26 March 1815, the "Royal Treasure Affair" took place in Estaires. Following the landing of Napoléon I in Golfe-Juan, King Louis XVIII and the Royal family fled from France to Ghent. A convoy of 300 people was completely stuck in the mud just after crossing the Lys. Coaches and carts were abandoned in the mud for the great benefit of the inhabitants of Estaires. It is said that some of the local fortunes date back to that day.

Being closed to the front line, Estaires suffered a great deal during the First World War. On 11 October 1914, the Germans used 40 civilians of the village to protect themselves when attempting to seize the bridge, to no avail but the death of the hostages. On 9 April 1918, the city was totally destroyed during the German breakout. In 2000, a 90 year old woman from Estaires was able to meet the family of the Australian surgeon who had saved her life after a bombing. Most research was done through the Internet. The surgeon had passed away in 1947 and his family had hitherto ignored why he had called his house Estaires.

The "Donkey Cavalcade" is celebrated every Whit Monday, recalls the nickname given to the inhabitants of Estaires, les Baudets d'Estaires (the Donkeys from Estaires). This might be related to the Geuzen, those Calvinist Flemish who fought against the Spanish rule,who are said to have showed round the town a donkey using the Corpus Christi's canopy in 1566 or 1568. Other sources claim those events occurred in 1793. Duering the cavalcade, the jointed donkey Aliboron craps oranges and candies and sometimes pisses liters of water.
The other main character of the cavalcade is the giant Jehan d'Estaires (4.50 m in height, 130 kg in weight), achieved on 1 September 2002 and blessed by the parish priest on 7 September 2002. The first Jehan, built in the 19th century, was destroyed, as was the town of Estaires, during the First World War. Jehan d'Estaires is featured in the short film En pays éloigné, made by Vero Cratzborn in 2007.

Ivan Sache, 14 December 2009

Flag of Estaires

The flag of Estaires is vertically divided white-red with a cross moline counter-colored. The cross is nearly touching the borders of the flag, being therefore more elongated in the horizontal than in the vertical dimension.

The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, "Per fess argent and gules a cross moline counterchanged"). According to Dom Eugène Arnould (Souvenirs du pays d'Estaires, 1901), these arms belonged to John (Jehan) of Estaires, who went on the First Crusade (1096-1099) with Godefrey of Bouillon. The legend says that John, back from the Crusades, offerred his banner to his cherished hometown to share his victories on battle fields with everybody, including the most ordinary people.

Sanderus' Flandria Illustrata (c. 1650; Vol. II, p. 470) shows a map of Estaires with these arms placed un the upper right corner. The arms of Montmorency, erected Counts of Estaires on 8 August 1611 by Archdukes Albert and Isobel, are placed in the upper left corner of the map.
The arms of Estaires are shown in the Armorial Général (image).

On 2 May 2009, the local newspaper La Voix du Nord reported that four supporters of the football club Union sportive estairoise were honoured by the municipal administration after having saved from drowning a man fallen down into river Lys. The Mayor of Estaires offerred them a flag of the town, which is shown on the colour photo attached to the article.

Ivan Sache, 1 August 2020

Former flag of Estaires

[Former flag of Estaires]

Former flag of Estaires - Image by Pascal Vagnat, 13 October 2002

The current flag of Estaires seems to be quite recent, since it does not show up on the photos taken during the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Whit Cavalcades.

A probably former flag of Estaires was reported by Jaume Ollé as horizontally divided white-red with a counterchanged cross moline in the center.

Ivan Sache, 14 December 2009

Show Group Stegers

[Flag]     [Flag]     [Flag]     [Flag of]

Flags used by The Stegers - Images by Ivan Sache, 14 December 2009

In August 1973, a group of idle friends founded the carneval group Stegers Revolution<. They performed for the first time on 15 April 1974 for the Easter Monday Carneval at Cassel. In 1975, a majorette squad supplemented the group, which was renamed Show Group Stegers< - but is mostly known locally as The Stegers, and is made today of 24 majorettes and 19 musicians.

The flag of the Stegers (A HREF="">photo) is horizontally divided brick red-white, the red stripe being seemingly smaller in height than the white one, with a countercoloured disc skewed to the hoist.
During the 2006 Whit Cavalcade (photos), the Stegers used horizontally divided brick red-white flags and square flags divided white-brick red by the descending diagonal.
During the 2007 Whit Cavalcade (photo), the Stegers used square flags divided brick red-white by the ascending diagonal.

Ivan Sache, 19 December 2009