Flemish people

Flemish people

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The Flemings or Flemish (Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

: Vlamingen) are the Dutch-speaking
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 inhabitants of Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, where they are mostly found in the northern region of Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

. They are one of two principal cultural-linguistic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 Walloons
Walloons
Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. Walloons are a distinctive community within Belgium, important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people. More generally, the term also refers to the inhabitants of the Walloon...

. The Flemish make up the majority of the Belgian population (about 60%).

History


The feel of 'Flemish' being a national identity increased heavily, shortly after the Belgian Revolution. Prior to this, the term 'Flemings' in the Dutch language was in first place used for the inhabitants of the former County of Flanders
County of Flanders
The County of Flanders was one of the territories constituting the Low Countries. The county existed from 862 to 1795. It was one of the original secular fiefs of France and for centuries was one of the most affluent regions in Europe....

. Flemish however had been used since the 14° century to describe the language of both the peoples of Flanders and the Duchy of Brabant
Duchy of Brabant
The Duchy of Brabant was a historical region in the Low Countries. Its territory consisted essentially of the three modern-day Belgian provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Antwerp, the Brussels-Capital Region and most of the present-day Dutch province of North Brabant.The Flag of...

 . Italians started in 15° century to describe both peoples as 'Fiamingi', the English and the French followed in the 16°. The sentiments of having somehow a common identity, despite belonging to different states (most notably the share of a common language, the deeply felt need to 'act as one' against any foreign state) existed already in the Middle Ages. An example is the 'Flemish-Brabant Co-operation Treaty' (Vlaams-Brabants samenwerkingsverdag) from 3/12/1339 imposed by the main cities of both states upon their rulers.
It must noted that the modern Belgian province of Limburg -nowadays Flemish- was not part of this.

In 1830 the southern provinces of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a sovereign state and constitutional monarchy with territory in Western Europe and in the Caribbean. The four parts of the Kingdom—Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten—are referred to as "countries", and participate on a basis of equality...

 seceded. The French-speaking administration and elites feared the loss of their privileged status in the newly formed United Kingdom. Under French rule (1794-1815) the exclusive use of French was harshly imposed in public life, resulting in a Frenchification of the elites and, to a lesser extend, some of the middle classes. The Dutch King allowed the use of both Dutch and French as administrative languages in the Flemish (Dutch speaking) provinces. He also enacted laws to (re)enable Dutch in schools. Since these elites rejected even the idea of learning Dutch, they feared being replaced by bilingual people . The language policy was not the only cause of the secession. The Roman Catholic
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 majority viewed the sovereign, the Protestant William I
William I of the Netherlands
William I Frederick, born Willem Frederik Prins van Oranje-Nassau , was a Prince of Orange and the first King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg....

, with suspicion and were heavily stired by the Roman Catholic Church which suspected William falsely of wanting to push for Protestantism. Lastly, the Liberals were dissatisfied with William for his rather autocratic behaviour. )

Following the revolt, the language reforms of 1823 were the first (4 June 1830) Dutch laws to be abolished and the subsequent years would see a number of laws restricting the use of Dutch and Dutch culture.

This cultural oppression by the Belgian government responded in the 1840s with the emergence of the Flemish movement
Flemish movement
The Flemish Movement is a popular term used to describe the political movement for emancipation and greater autonomy of the Belgian region of Flanders, for protection of the Dutch language, and for the over-all protection of Flemish culture and history....

, that was built on earlier anti-French Flemish feelings of injustice, as expressed in writings (for example by the late 18th century writer, Jan Verlooy
Jan-Baptist Verlooy
Jan-Baptist Chrysostomus Verlooy was a jurist and politician from the Southern Netherlands.-Childhood and descent:...

) which criticized the Southern Francophile
Francophile
Is a person with a positive predisposition or interest toward the government, culture, history, or people of France. This could include France itself and its history, the French language, French cuisine, literature, etc...

 elites. The efforts of this movement during the following 150 years, have to no small extent helped the formation of a Flemish nation, now consisting of the Dutch-speaking regions of Belgium whith a shared number of social
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, political
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 and linguistic
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 aims.

Identity and culture



Within Belgium the Flemings form a clearly distinguishable group, set apart by their language and customs. However, when compared to the Netherlands some of these cultural and linguistic differences quickly fade, as the Flemish share the same language, similar or identical customs and (though only with the southern part of today's Netherlands) traditional religion with the Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

.

However, the popular perception of being a single polity varies greatly, depending on subject matter, locality and personal background. Generally, Flemings will seldom identify themselves as being Dutch and vice versa, especially on a national level.

This is partly caused by the popular stereotypes in the Netherlands as well as Flanders which are mostly based on the 'cultural extremes' of both Northern and Southern culture. But also in great part because of the history of emancipation of their culture in Belgium, which has left many Flemings with a high degree of national consciousness, which can be very marked among some Dutch-speaking Belgians.

Alongside this overarching political and social affiliation, there also exists a strong tendency towards regionalism
Regionalism
In politics, regionalism is a political ideology that focuses on the interests of a particular region or group of regions, whether traditional or formal...

, in which individuals greatly identify themselves culturally through their native province
Province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...

, city, region
Region
Region is most commonly found as a term used in terrestrial and astrophysics sciences also an area, notably among the different sub-disciplines of geography, studied by regional geographers. Regions consist of subregions that contain clusters of like areas that are distinctive by their uniformity...

 or dialect
Dutch dialects
Dutch dialects are primarily the dialects that are both cognate with the Dutch language and are spoken in the same language area as the Dutch standard language. Dutch dialects are remarkably diverse and are found in the Netherlands and northern Belgium....

 they speak.

Language


Flemings speak Dutch (specifically its southern variant, which is sometimes colloquially called 'Flemish'). It is the majority language
National language
A national language is a language which has some connection—de facto or de jure—with a people and perhaps by extension the territory they occupy. The term is used variously. A national language may for instance represent the national identity of a nation or country...

 in Belgium, being spoken natively by three-fifths of the population. Its various dialects contain a number of lexical and a few grammatical features which distinguish them from the standard language. As in the Netherlands, the pronunciation of Standard Dutch is affected by the native dialect of the speaker.

All Dutch dialects spoken in Belgium are spoken in adjacent areas of the Netherlands as well. At the same time East Flemish
East Flemish
East Flemish is a group of dialects of the Dutch language, which is a Low Franconian language. It is spoken in the province of East Flanders in Belgium, but also spoken in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen in the Netherlands.-Brabantic Expansion:...

 forms a continuum with both Brabantic and West Flemish
West Flemish
West Flemish , , , Fransch vlaemsch in French Flemish) is a group of dialects or regional language related to Dutch spoken in parts of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France....

. Standard Dutch is primarily based on the Hollandic
Hollandic
Hollandic or Hollandish is, together with Brabantian, the most frequently used dialect of the Dutch language. Other important Low Franconian language varieties spoken in the same area are Zeelandic, East Flemish, West Flemish and Limburgish....

 dialect (spoken in the Northern Netherlands) and to a lesser extent on Brabantian
Brabantian
Brabantian or Brabantish, also Brabantic , is a dialect group of the Dutch language. It is named after the historical Duchy of Brabant which corresponded mainly to the Dutch province of North Brabant, the Belgian provinces of Antwerp and Flemish Brabant, as well as the institutional Region of...

, which is the most dominant Dutch dialect of the Southern Netherlands and Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

.

Religion



Approximately 75% of the Flemish people are by baptism assumed Roman Catholic, though a still diminishing minority of less than 8% attends mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

 on a regular basis and nearly half of the inhabitants of Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 are agnostic or atheist. A 2006 inquiry in Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, showed 55% chose to call themselves religious, 36% believe that God created the world.

National symbols



The official flag and coat of arms of the Flemish Community
Flemish Community
The term Flemish Community has two distinct, though related, meanings:...

 represents a black lion with red claws and tongue on a yellow field (or
Or (heraldry)
In heraldry, Or is the tincture of gold and, together with argent , belongs to the class of light tinctures called "metals". In engravings and line drawings, it may be represented using a field of evenly spaced dots...

 a lion rampant sable
Sable (heraldry)
In heraldry, sable is the tincture black, and belongs to the class of dark tinctures, called "colours". In engravings and line drawings, it is sometimes depicted as a region of crossed horizontal and vertical lines or else marked with sa. as an abbreviation.The name derives from the black fur of...

 armed and langued gules
Gules
In heraldry, gules is the tincture with the colour red, and belongs to the class of dark tinctures called "colours". In engraving, it is sometimes depicted as a region of vertical lines or else marked with gu. as an abbreviation....

). A flag with a completely black lion had been in wide use before 1991 when the current version was officially adopted by the Flemish Community. That older flag was at times recognized by government sources (alongside the version with red claws and tongue). Today, only the flag bearing a lion with red claws and tongue is recognized by Belgian law, while the flag with the all black lion is mostly used by Flemish separatist movements. The Flemish authorities also use two logos of a highly stylized black lion which show the claws and tongue in either red or black.

The first documented use of the Flemish lion was on the seal
Seal (device)
A seal can be a figure impressed in wax, clay, or some other medium, or embossed on paper, with the purpose of authenticating a document ; but the term can also mean the device for making such impressions, being essentially a mould with the mirror image of the design carved in sunken- relief or...

 of Philip d'Alsace
Philip, Count of Flanders
Philip of Alsace was count of Flanders from 1168 to 1191. He succeeded his father Thierry of Alsace.-Count of Flanders:...

, count of Flanders
Count of Flanders
The Count of Flanders was the ruler or sub-ruler of the county of Flanders from the 9th century until the abolition of the position by the French revolutionaries in 1790....

 of 1162. As of that date the use of the Flemish coat of arms (or a lion rampant sable) remained in use throughout the reigns of the d'Alsace, Flanders (2nd) and Dampierre dynasties of counts
Count of Flanders
The Count of Flanders was the ruler or sub-ruler of the county of Flanders from the 9th century until the abolition of the position by the French revolutionaries in 1790....

. The motto "Vlaanderen de Leeuw" (Flanders the lion) was allegedly present on the arms of Pieter de Coninck at the Battle of the Golden Spurs
Battle of the Golden Spurs
The Battle of the Golden Spurs, known also as the Battle of Courtrai was fought on July 11, 1302, near Kortrijk in Flanders...

 on July 11, 1302. After the acquisition of Flanders by the Burgundian dukes
Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy was a title borne by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, a small portion of traditional lands of Burgundians west of river Saône which in 843 was allotted to Charles the Bald's kingdom of West Franks...

 the lion was only used in escutcheons. It was only after the creation of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands is the unofficial name used to refer to Kingdom of the Netherlands during the period after it was first created from part of the First French Empire and before the new kingdom of Belgium split out in 1830...

 that the coat of arms (surmounted by a chief bearing the Royal Arms of the Netherlands
Coat of arms of the Netherlands
The Greater Coat of Arms of the Realm, , is the personal coat of arms of the monarch of the Netherlands . The government of the Netherlands uses a smaller version without the mantle or the pavilion or sometimes even only uses the shield and crown...

) once again became the official symbol of the new province East Flanders
East Flanders
East Flanders is a province of Flanders, one of the three regions of Belgium. It borders on the Netherlands and in Belgium on the provinces of Antwerp, Flemish Brabant , of Hainaut and of West Flanders...

.

See also

  • De Vlaamse Leeuw
    De Vlaamse Leeuw
    De Vlaamse Leeuw is the official anthem of Flanders, a region in the federal kingdom of Belgium.-Composition:...

  • Flanders
    Flanders
    Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

  • Flemish Community
    Flemish Community
    The term Flemish Community has two distinct, though related, meanings:...

  • Flemish Movement
    Flemish movement
    The Flemish Movement is a popular term used to describe the political movement for emancipation and greater autonomy of the Belgian region of Flanders, for protection of the Dutch language, and for the over-all protection of Flemish culture and history....

  • Flemish Region
    Flemish Region
    The Flemish Region is one of the three official regions of the Kingdom of Belgium—alongside the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region. Colloquially, it is usually simply referred to as Flanders, of which it is the institutional iteration within the context of the Belgian political system...

  • French Flemish