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België, Belgique, Belgien

Last modified: 2002-11-30 by ivan sache
Keywords: belgium | brabant |
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[Flag of Belgium]by António Martins

Flag adopted 23 January 1831, coat of arms adopted 17 May 1837
Proportion: 13:15
Description: Vertically divided black-yellow-red.
on land, civil and state flag.

Colour approximate specifications (as given in Album des Pavillons [pay00]):

  • Red: Pantone 186 c / CMYK (%) C 0 - M9 0 - Y 80 - K 5
  • Yellow: Pantone 116 c / CMYK (%) C 0 - M 15 - Y 95 - K 0

See also:

Origin of the colours

The colours were taken from the flag of Brabant, a province in the Low Countries (the Netherlands + Belgium ), which extended from Walloon province Walloon Brabant, over Flemish Brabant (and Brussels) and Antwerpen in Flanders, and in the Netherlands the province of North-Brabant. The flag of Brabant was a golden (yellow) lion climbing the hoist, on a black surface, and its tongue and nails were red. Its heraldic description is:
Sable, a Lion Rampant Or, Nails and Tongue Gules.
This lion features on the arms of the Belgian kingdom, and several arms of the provinces, like Walloon Brabant (Brabant wallon), Flemish Brabant (Vlaams-Brabant), and the Dutch province North-Brabant (Noord-Brabant).

Probably, the vertical ordering of the colours in vertical bands was based on the French flag, since the colours of the Dutch flags were ordered in horizontal bands, and the founding of Belgium was actually a separation from the Netherlands.

Filip Van Laenen

First Belgian flags with horizontal stripes

[1789 Belgian flag?]by Mark Sensen

Horizontal tribands were used in a first revolution, in December 1789 when the Belgians raised (not successfully) against the Habsburgers (Austrians). I've got a drawing of it, the colours arranged red/black/yellow.

[First Belgian national flag]by Ivan Sache

On 25 August 1830, after the performance of Auber's freedom opera La Muette de Portici, began the revolt against the Dutch king William I. The next day a French (!) flag was hoisted on the city hall of Brussels. Two men, Lucien Jottrand and Edouard Ducpètiaux, remembered the colours used in 1789 and made two flags horizontal red/yellow/black; one to replace the French flag, and with one they marched through the streets. On 23 January 1831 the Provisional Gouvernment decreed:

"The flag of Belgium is red, yellow and black. These colours are arranged vertical".

But in article 124 of the Belgian constitution of 4 February 1831 no order of colours was given. On 13 September 1831 the minister of the Navy decreed:

"Black must be placed on the hoist, yellow in the middle and red on the fly".

This flag was last confirmed on 28 January 1936.

Mark Sensen, 20 October 1995

Origin of the odd proportion

According to Léon Nyssen (Les drapeaux nouveaux de la Belgique fédérale, pp. 142-145 in Fahnen, Flags, Drapeaux [icv93]):

"Concerning the odd 13:15 proportion, nobody is able to explain its origin."

Ivan Sache, 29 December 1999

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