La Flamengrie – the historic border between Austria and France

La Flamengrie Village Symbol
Source: The Blazon Project of the French Wikipedia.

So whilst the modern border is between France and Belgium, historically the border was between France and initially the Spanish Netherlands (1556–1714), and then later the Austrian Netherlands (1714–1794), through the  Treaty of Rastatt (1714), which followed the War of the Spanish Succession.

La Flamengrie is a small village (commune) in the Nord department in northern France. It is located next to the Belgian border which creates a sort of French peninsula jutting into Belgium territory. This border is both historic and contemporary and this is reflected by a range of border markers near the town. I visited this area as part of the IBRG BELEX18 trip. We did not have a lot of time to explore this area but were able to locate a number of border markers.

The historical significance of the border stems from the Treaties of Nijmegen (1678–79) which ended the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78) in which France had opposed Spain and the Dutch Republic. La Flamengrie was ceded to France. while the neighbouring village of Roisin remained Spanish.

The border was compex with continual adjustments between France and Austria.  In 1779, France obtained part of the Bois de Roisin; by ceding to Austria the same area of ​​agricultural land taken all around the village of La Flamengrie. During the summer of 1780, the woods and the plots not built and uninhabited around the village were surveyed, measured and mapped. The new border was marked with 65 markers in 1781, 50 still exist with 20 in the town itself. The border markers are represented with an Austrian double eagle on one side and 3 French fleur-de-lys  on the other.

Austrian control lasted until annexation by revolutionary France following the Battle of Sprimont in 1794 and the Peace of Basel in 1795. Austria, however, did not relinquish its claim over the province until 1797 in the Treaty of Campo Formio.

In 1888 a referendum took place and the village overwhelmingly voted to remain in France.

More recently the ceasefire of the Great War occurred there on November 7, 1918. The border around La Flamengrie is therefore complicated and several accounts describe it as an enclave which is incorrect as there is a direct connection to France. Smuggling of tobacco products remained an issue until the accession of both countries to the EU.

Austria – France Border markers

Border marker at BM1

3 French fleur-de-lys  visible
3 French fleur-de-lys  visible

Border marker at BM2

Austrian double headed eagle

Border marker at BM3

Red paint probably from the newly painted post holding the French post box – this is a historical artifact!!!

Border marker at BM 4 newer BM’s with the date 1819 and represent the border between France and the newly independent Netherlands (rather than Austria).

Border marker at BM 5 nearly hidden in a hedge.

Other Austria – France Bordermarkers

References

  1. Ina.fr La Flamengrie European village video here
  2. GRENSMARKERINGEN a Dutch language website with detailed information regarding La Flamengrie here
  3. Frontier markers of Flamengrie (North) website report here

Date of Visit: 28.04.2018

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