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Walloons ( , ) are a Romance-speaking people partly from Germanic origin and Celtic origin; in any case a melting-pot speaking French, living in Belgiummarker principally in Walloniamarker, more generally the inhabitants of Wallonia. They also speak regional languages like Walloon or Picard.


The term Walloon is derived from Walha, a very old Germanic term used by Germanic Tribes to refer to Celtic and Latin speakers. According to region, Walha transformed, in particular by loans in other languages, and by semantic reduction. The Swiss region Wallismarker and the British region Walesmarker have the same etymological explanation. "Walloon" was created in Romance languages alongside other related terms, but it supplanted them. Its oldest written trace is found in Jean de Haynin's Mémoires de Jean, sire de Haynin et de Louvignies in 1465, where it refers to Roman populations of the Burgundian Netherlands. Its meaning narrows yet again during French and Dutch periods, and at Belgian independence, the term designated only Belgians speaking a Romance language (French, Wallon, Picard, ...) The linguistic cleavage in the politics of Belgium adds a political content to «the emotional cultural, and linguistic concept» Walloon so that it then also designates the inhabitants of Walloniamarker — a monolingual French-speaking territory — as opposed to Flemish. The word Walloon meaning a territory did exist previously for instance in the book of Charles White,The Belgic revolution where we may find the word Wallons used in French The restless Wallons, with that adventurous daring which is their historical characteristic, abandoned their occupations, and eagerly seizing the pike and the musket marched towards the center of the commotion. The French word Wallons in English is also used in Encyclopedia Britannica. Albert Henry wrote that the word Walloon designating a Constitutional reality in 1988 was first referring to Roman populations of the Burgundian Netherlands. It was also used in order to designate a territory by the locutions provinces wallonnes or Walloon country (Pays wallon), from the 16th century to the Belgian revolution and only after Walloniamarker. The locution Walloon country was also used in Dutch e.g. Walsch land. The locution existed also in German, perhaps Wulland in the Hans Heyst'sbook (1571) where Wulland is translated by Walloniamarker in English (1814). In German it is however generally Wallonenland : Le païs de Valons,Belgolalia, Wallonenland, in "Le Grand Dictionnaire Royal" Augsbourg, 1767; The name of the churches' consecration is in Touraine assemblées, in Bretagne pardons, in the North Departments sometimes kermesses, sometimes as in the Walloon country, ducasses (from dedicatio) In English, it is Walloon country (see further James Shaw). In French (and France (Wand)), it is le Pays wallon: The Walloon country included the greatest part of the to-day Belgium, the Province of Flandre orientalemarker, the Province of Flandre occidentalemarker both named Flandre wallonne , the Province of Namurmarker, the Hainautmarker, the Limbourgmarker, the pays de Liègemarker and even the Luxembourgmarker For Félix Rousseau Walloon country is, after le Roman pays the old name of the country of the Walloons

Institutional aspects

Conceptual and emotional aspects


The extent of Wallonia, the area defined by the use of the language, has shifted through the ages, especially since throughout history the low-lying area of Flanders and the hilly region of the Ardennes have been under the control of many city-states and external powers, all of which have brought variations to borders, culture, and language. The Walloon language itself, widespread up till the Second World War, has been dying out of common use owing to growing internationalisation. Official educational systems do not include it as a language, while continuous efforts are made by the French government to support the use of French within the "Francophonie" commonwealth. This is complicated by the federal structure of Belgium, which splits Belgiummarker into three language groups with the privilege of using their own tongues in official correspondence, but also into three autonomous regions. The language groups are: French community (though not Walloon but generally named Wallonia-Brussels, see especially the international plan and from 1 January 2009), Flemish community and German community. The division into regions does not correspond with the language group division: "Vlaanderen", (Flanders) and "la région wallonne" (Walloon region, including the German community but generally called Walloniamarker) and the bilingual (French-Dutch) Brussels region, also the federal capital of Belgium.

Brussels - not Walloon but French-speaking

Many non-French-speaking observers (over)generalize Walloons as a term of convenience for all Belgian French-speakers (even those born and living in the Brussels Regionmarker). While the mixing of the population for economic and practical reasons over the centuries means that most families can trace ancestors on both sides of the linguistic divide, the fact that the Brusselsmarker region is around 85% French-speaking but lying geographically in Flanders has led to friction between the regions and communities. The local dialect in Brussels, "Brussels Vloms", is a Brabantic dialect, reflecting the Dutch heritage of the city.

Walloons are historically credited with pioneering the industrial revolution in Continental Europe in early 19th century. In relatively modern history, Brussels has been the major town or the capital of the region. Because of long Spanish and French rule, French became the sole official language; after a brief period with Dutch as the official language while the region was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, French was reinstated after independence in 1830, and the Walloon region, being a major coal and steel producing area, developed very quickly into the economic powerhouse of the country. Walloons (or in fact French-speaking elites,but who were called Walloons), were therefore politically dominant, and many Flemish immigrants came to work in Wallonia. Between the 1930s and the 1970s, the gradual decline of steel and more especially coal, coupled with the imbalance in investment in service industries and light industry which came to predominate in Flanders, started to tip the balance in the other direction, and Flanders became gradually politically dominant; and in their turn Walloon families have moved to Flanders in search of jobs. This evolution has not been without political repercussions.

Walloon identity

The heartland of Walloon culture is the Meuse Valley and the Sambre Valley, Charleroimarker Dinantmarker, Namurmarker (the regional capital), Huymarker,Verviersmarker and Liègemarker.

Regional languages statistics

Its Walloon language could be considered as an element of Walloon identity. However, the entire French-speaking population of Wallonia cannot be culturally considered Walloon, since a significant portion in the west (around Tournaimarker and Monsmarker) and smaller portions in the extreme south (around Arlonmarker) possess other languages (namely Picard, Champenois, Luxembourgish, and Lorrain) as mother tongues. All of them can speak French as well or better. A survey of the Centre liégeois d'étude de l'opinion pointed out in 1989 71,8% of the younger people of Wallonia understand and speak only a little or absolutely not the Walloon language, 17,4% rather well, 10,4% almost totally or totally. On the base of other surveys and figures, Laurent Hendschel wrote in 1999 that between 30 and 40% people are bilingual in Wallonia (Walloon, Picard), among them 10% of the younger population (18-30 years old). According to Hendschel there are 36 to 58% of young people having a passive knowledge of the regional languages On the other hand, Givetmarker commune, several villages in Ardennesmarker département in Francemarker with a journal Causon wallon (Let us speak Walloon), and two villages in Luxembourgmarker are historically Walloon-speaking.

Walloons in the Middle-Age

Since the 11th century the great towns alon the river Meusemarker dealt with Germany as forinstance Dinantmarker, Huymarker,Liègemarker,Wallengassen (Walloons' neighbourhoods) are founded. In Cologne,the Walloons wre the most important foreign community and there were three Walloonstreet in this city. They were lacking cooper they found in Germany, especially to Goslarmarker.

In the 13th century, the medieval German colonisation of Transylvania (central and North-Western Romania) comprised also numbers of Wallons. Place names like "Wallendorf" (Wallon Village) and family names as "Valendorfean" ("Wallon peasant") can be found among the Romanian citizens of Transylvania.

Walloons in the Renaissance

Jean Bodin 1530-1596 French political philosopher who invented Wallons-nous?
In 1572 Jean Bodin made a funny play on words which is until now very famous in Walloniamarker

Translation: We are called Walloons by the Belgians because when the ancient people of Gallia were travelling the length and breadth of the earth it happened that they asked questions one another, each other: Où allons-nous? [Where are we going? : the pronunciation of these French words is the same as the French word Wallons (plus us)], i.e. To which goal are we walking?. It is probable they took from it the name Ouallons (Wallons), which the Latin speaking are not able to pronounce without changing the word by the use of the letter G. One of the best translation oft his (humorous) idiom daily used in Wallonia is These are strange times we are living in.

Shakespeare used the word Walloon A base Walloon, to win the Dauphin's grace/Thrust Talbot with a spea rin the back. There is a note in this issue of Henry VI, Part 1 saying at this time, the Walloons [were] the inhabitants of the area, now in south Belgium, still known as the Pays wallon. That is also the opinion of Albert Henry (quoting Maurice Piron),)also quoted by A.J. Hoenselaars : Walloon meaning Walloon country in Henry VI's Shakespeare...

Walloons in Sweden

Starting from 1620s, a considerable number of Walloon miners and their families had settled in Swedenmarker.

A large and important group of Walloons were brought to Sweden to make iron for their Dutch masters, and they did so by using their familiar iron making technologies. From the second quarter of the century the Walloon forging method was spread in Sweden as a complement to the already familiar German method. The Dutch and Walloon influences were concentrated to the iron making region of Uppland, around the very rich mine of Dannemora, north of Stockholm. There, Dutch entrepreneurs owned ironworks populated with skilled Walloon ironworkers making iron with the Walloon method. The iron that was made, named Öregrund iron after an exporting port, made up about 15 percent of the total Swedish iron production, with the remaining volumes made according to the German method.

They were originally led by the entrepreneur Louis de Geer who commissioned them to work in the iron mines of Upplandmarker and Östergötlandmarker. The wave of migration continued substantially into 18th century. Walloons became gradually integrated into Swedish society. However, Walloon ancestry is still traceable through Walloon surnames and people of Walloon descent are organised in Sällskapet Vallonättlingar (Society of Walloon Descendants).

Walloons and the Enlightenment

James Shaw wrote in 1786 Haynaultmarker and Namurmarker, with Artoismarker, now no longer an Austrian Province, compose the Walloon country. The Walloon name and language are also extended into the adjacent districts of the neighbouring Provinces. A large part of Brabant, where that Province borders on Haynault and Namur, is named Walloon Brabantmarker. The affinity of language seems also on some occasions to have wrought a nearer relation.

The Belgian revolution

The Belgian revolution was recently described as firstly a conflict between the Brusselsmarker municipality which was secondly disseminated in the rest of the country, particularly in the Walloon provinces. We read the nearly same opinion in Edmundson's book: The royal forces, on the morning of September 23, entered the city at three gates and advanced as far as the Park. But beyond that point they were unable to proceed, so desperate was the resistance, and such the hail of bullets that met them from barricades and from the windows and roofs of the houses. For three days almost without cessation the fierce contest went on, the troops losing ground rather than gaining it. On the evening of the 26th the prince gave orders to retreat, his troops having suffered severely. The effect of this withdrawal was to convert a street insurrection into a national revolt. The moderates now united with the liberals, and a Provisional Government was formed, having amongst its members Rogier, Van de Weyer, Gendebien, Emmanuel d'Hooghvorst, Félix de Mérode and Louis de Potter, who a few days later returned triumphantly from banishment. The Provisional Government issued a series of decrees declaring Belgiummarker independent, releasing the Belgian soldiers from their allegiance, and calling upon them to abandon the Dutch standard. They were obeyed. The revolt, which had been confined mainly to the Walloonmarker districts, now spread rapidly over Flanders.. Jacques Logie wrote: On the 6th October, the whole Walloniamarker was under the Provisional Government's control. In the Flemish part of the country the collapse of the Royal Government was as total and quick as in Wallonia, except Ghentmarker and Antwerpmarker. Robert Demoulin who was Professor at the Université de Liègemarker wrote: Liègemarker is in the forefront of the battle for liberty, more than Brussels but with Brussels. He wrote the same thing for Leuvenmarker. According to Demoulin, these three cities are the républiques municipales at the head of the Belgian revolution. In this chapter VI of his book, Le soulèvement national (pp. 93-117), before writing On the 6th October, the whole Wallonia is free, he quotes the following municipalities from which volunteers were going to Brussels, the centre of the commotion, in order to take part in the battle against the Dutch troops : Tournaimarker, Namurmarker, Wavremarker (p.105) Braine-l'Alleudmarker, Genappemarker, Jodoignemarker, Perwezmarker, Rebecqmarker, Grez-Doiceaumarker, Limelette, Nivellesmarker (p.106), Charleroimarker (and its region), Gosseliesmarker, Lodelinsartmarker (p.107), Soigniesmarker, Leuze, Thuinmarker, Jemappesmarker (p.108), Dourmarker, Saint-Ghislainmarker, Pâturages (p.109) and he concluded: So, from the Walloon little towns and countryside, people came to the capital.. The Dutch fortresses were liberated in Athmarker ( 27 September), Monsmarker (29 September), Tournaimarker (2 October), Namur (4 October) (with the help of people coming from Andennemarker, Fossesmarker, Gemblouxmarker) , Charleroimarker (5 October) (with peoplewho came in their thousands).The same day that was also the case for Philippevillemarker, Mariembourg, Dinantmarker, Bouillonmarker. In Flanders, the Dutch troops capitulated at the same time in Brugge, Iepermarker, Oostendemarker, Menenmarker,Oudenaardemarker, Gerardsbergen (pp. 113-114), but nor in Ghentmarker nor in Antwerpmarker (only liberated on 17 October and 27 October).

Against these interpretation,in any case for the troubles in Brussels, John W. Rooney Jr wrote: It is clear from the quantitative analysis that an overwhelming majority of revolutionaries were domiciled in Brussels or in the nearby suburbs and that the aid came from outside was minimal. For example, for the day of 23 September, 88% of dead and wounded lived in Brussels identified and if we add those residing in Brabant, it reached 95%. It is true that if you look at the birthplace of revolutionary given by the census, the number of Brussels falls to less than 60%, which could suggest that there was support "national" (to different provinces Belgian), or outside the city, more than 40%.But it is nothing, we know that between 1800 and 1830 the population of the capital grew by 75,000 to 103,000, this growth is due to the designation in 1815 in Brussels as a second capital of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the rural exodus that accompanied the Industrial Revolution. It is therefore normal that a large part of the population of Brussels be originating provinces. These migrants came mainly from Flanders, which was hit hard by the crisis in the textile 1826-1830. This interpretation is also nationalist against the statements of witnesses: Charles Rogier said that there were neither in 1830 nor nation Belgian national sentiment within the population. The revolutionary Jean-Baptiste Nothomb ensures that "the feeling of national unity is born today." As for Joseph Lebeau, he said that "patriotism Belgian is the son of the revolution of 1830.." Only in the following years as bourgeois revolutionary will "legitimize ideological state power.

In the Belgian State

A few years after the Belgian revolution in 1830, the historian Louis Dewez underlined that Belgium is shared into two people, Walloons and Flemings. The former are speaking French, the latter are speaking Flemish. The border is clear (...) The provinces which are back the Walloon line, i.e.: the Province of Liègemarker, the Brabant wallonmarker, the Province of Namurmarker, the Province of Hainautmarker are Walloon [...] And the other provinces throughout the line [...] are Flemish. It is not an arbitrarian division or an imagined combination in order to support an opinion or create a system: it is a fact... Jules Michelet traveled in Wallonia in 1840 and we can read many times in his History of France his interest for Wallonia and the Walloons pp 35,120,139,172, 287, 297,300, 347,401, 439, 455, 468 (this page on the Culture of Wallonia, 476 (1851 edition published on line)

Relationship with the German speaking community

The Walloon Regionmarker institutionally comprises also the German-speaking community of Belgium around Eupenmarker, in the east of the region, next to Germanymarker which ceded the area to Belgium after the First World War. Many of the 60,000 or so inhabitants of this very small community reject being considered as Walloon and – with their community executive leader Karl-Heinz Lambertz want to remain a federating unit, and to have all the powers of the Belgian Regions and Communities. Even if they don't want them absolutely and immediately (10 July 2008, official speech for the Flanders' national holiday).

Walloons diaspora

Walloon Culture

The Manifesto for Walloon culture in 1983 was a major event of the History of Wallonia quoted in the important books about the Region's History

External links

Famous Walloons

Including people from the region before it became known as Wallonia.


See also

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