Infobox Belgium Municipality
mayor=Marc de Saint Moulin (PS)
web= [http://www.soignies.be/ www.soignies.be]
The municipality is composed of the Town of Soignies together with the villages of
Casteau, Chaussée-Notre-Dame-Louvignies, Horrues, Neufvilles, Naast and Thieusies. Casteau is known worldwide because SHAPE, the military headquarters of NATO, has been based at the village since 1967.
The name of Soignies comes from the Latin word "SUNIACUM", which means "on the Senne". The spring of the Senne is near Soignies. After Soignies, the river passes through Brussels.
Soignies is also well known for her blue limestone (Carrières du Hainaut) and her glass industry (Durobor).
The history of the region starts in the second half of the 7th century. In the 670s,
Madelgaire, a wealthy former governor under King Dagobert I, and his wife Waltrudedecided to separate and devote themselves to a religious life. Both of them founded an abbey, Madelgaire in Soignies and Waltrude in neighbouring Mons. Madelgaire took the religious name of Vincent. Like his wife, he was canonizedafter his death and later became the patron saintof the city that would eventually grow around the monastery. At that time, a large forest covered the whole area, the remnants of which near Brusselsare still called the Sonian Forest(French: "Forêt de Soignes", Dutch: "Zoniënwoud") today. The existence of the abbey of Soignies is mentioned for the first time in the Treaty of Meersen, dated August 8, 870, as one of King Charles the Bald's possessions.
The age of the canons
At the end of the 9th century, a general decline in religious life led to a chapter of powerful canons – who did not take any vow of poverty – taking the place of the monks. These canons would remain in power for eight centuries, until the
French Revolution. By the 10th century, the canons started the construction of the church of Saint Vincent (Madelgaire), which was to be completed during the following century in the prevalent Romanesque style of the period. The first known charter by Baldwin IV, Count of Hainautwas granted to Soignies in 1142. The fame of the church of Saint Vincent grew in the 13th century, when the bishop of Cambraigranted a 40-day indulgenceto every visitor to the church. The city itself grew to urban proportions at around the same time, coinciding with the development of the textile industry and the building of a defensive wall. The first stone quarries mentioned in the archives date from around 1400, but several clues lead to believe that local stone was already quarried much earlier. The cut-stone industry, however, started only around 1700.
1789 until now
On September 1, 1796, the revolutionary council disbanded the local administration by the canons, thereby also dealing a heavy blow to the local economy. In 1812, only 92 people worked in the quarries on a total population of about 4,000 people. The industry, however, rebounded under the Dutch regime, and even more after the
Belgian Revolutionof 1830. Today, the cut-stone and glass industries are still active. Soignies is also the center of a vibrant service industry, especially in education and health.
*The collegiate church of St Vincentcite book | last = Ghislain | first = Jean-Claude | title = La Collégiale Romane de Soignies | year = 1975 | others = Collection Wallonie, Art et Histoire, Ed. Duculot, cited in [http://www.soignies.com] | language = French] is one of the earliest specimens of Romanesque churches in Belgium. The choir dates from the beginning of the 11th century while the Gothic west tower dates from around 1250. The cemetery still has tombs of the 13th and 14th century.
*Near the church stands the Cloth Market (in French "Halle aux Draps"), dating from the 16th century.
*The origins of the "Processio" of Saint Vincent (Madelgaire)cite book | last = Bavay | first = Gérard | title = Au fil des chapelles… les chemins du Grand Tour Saint-Vincent de Soignies | location = Soignies | year = 1992 | pages = 87 p | others = cited in [http://cpierart.free.fr/procession] | language = French] are not well known. It is certain, however, that it already took place as early as the 13th century. Today, every Monday of
Pentecost, the reliquaryof Saint Vincent is carried in a historic procession along a predetermined 11-km-long circuit around town, known as the "Grand Tour Saint Vincent".
*The Saturday preceding the third Sunday of October is the date of the local
carnival. The festivities are know as "La Simpélourd" – from the contraction of two French words meaning simple and heavy – after a cuckoldwho lived in Soignies more than 200 years ago. This character still takes central stage in the colourful celebration.
People born in Soignies
Jules Bordet, immunologist and microbiologist (19th century)
Paul van Zeeland, lawyer, economist, and politician (19th century)
Johan Walem, football player and TV consultant (20th century)
* [http://www.soignies.be Official website] (in French)
* [http://www.soignies.com/ Alternative site] , with lots of further information on the city (in French)
* [http://cpierart.free.fr/procession/ Soignies, City of St Vincent] (in French)
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