What is the origin of our tricolour flag?


The tricolour flag appeared for the first time on the occasion of the Brabant Revolution (1789-1790), directed against the reforms of Joseph II, who wanted to abolish a number of laws and regulations specific to our regions in favour of a centralising policy imposed from Vienna. On 27 October 1789, at the Battle of Turnhout, the Belgian patriots inflicted a defeat on the Austrian Imperial Army. This confrontation marked the beginning of the Brabant Revolution which led to the short-lived independence of our territory.


As for the choice of colours, they certainly originate from the arms of the former Duchy of Brabant, which displayed the three colours dear to Belgium: a golden lion (yellow) on a sandy (black) background, armed (claws) and langued (tongue) gules (red). During the revolution of August 1830, which led to the definitive independence of the country, the French flag (originally revolutionary) was initially flown, but the day after the rebellion, on 26 August, the journalist at the Courrier des Pays-Bas, Édouard Ducpétiaux, replaced the French tricolour with the red-yellow-black one. But on the "Ducpétiaux flag" the stripes are horizontal.


The revolutionary events of 1830 changed the meaning of the colours of the flag. Black came to represent the sacrifice of the citizens who fought for independence, yellow the wealth of the nation and red the blood shed by the heroes of the independence story. A commemorative plaque on the front of the shop on the corner of Marché aux Herbes and Rue de la Colline bears the name of Marie Abts-Ermens, the seamstress known for having made the first Belgian flag in August 1830 for the journalist Ducpétiaux. And guess what... the stripes were horizontal!


Article 193 of the Constitution states the colours, the arms and the national motto: "The Belgian Nation adopts red, yellow and black colours, and as arms of the kingdom the Lion of Belgium with the motto: Union is Strength." On 30 September 1830, the provisional government officially adopted the national flag, initially with a horizontal arrangement of colours. The vertical arrangement and the black colour of the flagpole were finally adopted in 1831 without modifying the Constitution. Incidentally, another surrealist touch in Magritte's country should be noted: as the article of the Constitution has not been amended, we are probably the only ones not to respect the arrangement of the flag's colours provided for in the country's founding act. To end on a lighter note, it should be pointed out that the cartoonist Morris has done a patriotic job in dressing his famous lone cowboy: Lucky Luke wears a black waistcoat over a yellow shirt with a red scarf.