Feudal Period (855 to 1168)

The pagus Hainoensis, according to the researches of Mm. Duviviers and C.Piot, had for northern limit a line starting from the south of the following localities: Hautrage, Villerot, Sirault, Masnuy St.Jean, Casteau, Soignies; the coal forest was therefore its natural limit.

The country of Lens was part of the Braybantinsis pagus. The oldest historical monument where this name is recorded is a charter of Pepin the brief, given in 750 (or 754) in favor of the abbey of St Denis in France. another dated June 25, 775 places Cambron in this pagus on the Asbra (Dender) river. In 861, under Charles the Bald, the property of Cambron given by Pépin the Brief was ceded to Witramme, except for the serfs who remained the property of St Denis. (C. Monnier, Dewez T II 119).

The name Dendre seems to belong to the river which goes from Ath to Dendermonde (Tenremonde). The percheries of the river "tenre", in Acren, belonged to the family of Croy - Havre - Bernier.

The eastern branch of this river was called river of dawn (tree) fluvium asbra (534), fluviolum albam, harbam fluvium, albe, ambe or tree, (J. Quellart). The local villagers also referred to the tree as blanche or blanchette because of the transparency of its waters, thus attributing a meaning to the name Alba, which Jacques De Guise and la Watte give to this watercourse. (C.Monnier).

Lordships and fortified castles,

The period which followed the death of Charlemagne was extremely disturbed by the wars, the civil discords and the invasions, the free men did not find any more near these weak and dissolute kings the protection which they needed in the medium of the dangers. They asked for that of the large landowners and recommended themselves to them, who granted their proteges land (benefits) of which they kept the bare ownership.

The land received the name of fief (land of fidelity). The kings also granted land as a reward, seeking to make supporters, for life, this concession gradually became hereditary and led to the erection of small states independent of each other which took the name of duchies, counties , principalities, castellanies, seigniories. The country of Lens abounds with these small fiefs, We quote:

  • the Castiel-Cambron castle,
  • the Lordship of Lombise,
  • the fortified castle of Herchies,
  • the castel de la motte in Neufmaison. It was a fief of the lordship of Chièvres in 1473. The lordship of Chièvres also had a fief: the cracol in Lens and rear fiefs in Montignies-lez-lens, Jurbise and Bajenrieux (Neufvilles)
  • Castellum (Casteau) 847 (Charles the Bald),
  • Baudour was one of the twelve peerages of Hainaut,
  • The lords of Herbaut had a castle whose lordship passed to the Trinitarians of Lens,
  • Lens was part of the former Brabant. It was the seat of one of the twelve peerages of Hainaut. This seigniory belonged to the families of Lens, Gavre, Ligne, Berlaymont, Egmont Pignatelli,.......,
  • Masnuv St.Jean, lordship of Raduez, lord of Masnuy, killed at the battle of Stavoren,
  • Neufvilles, seigneury of Bajenrieux, Hasnon, Fellignies, Godimont,
  • Thoricourt; Lordship of Launoys; with the Auxy as lords,
  • Brugelette, with the seigniory of Jauche-mastoing,
  • Gages, with as lord Hugues de Gages, knight signatory of the charter of Hainaut in 1200.

And finally :

  • Montigni

In the Middle Ages, Montigni, capital of the eleven cities, had a feudal castle which left substructures of towers, underground passages, surrounding ditch and which was succeeded by a castle which must have been very large, if we judge by the vestiges that remain, it is no more today than a farm bathed by the marquette, successor of an impetuous torrent, almost a river which flowed there in prehistoric times. (Count d'Auxy de Launois) we can still see the traces of water erosion on the waters of the foundations of the surrounding wall.
Guillaume de Montigni Chevallier lived from 1196 to 1242.

Baudouin de Montigni, said of Hainaut, is quoted in old archives, donating Pomeroie after 1265. On February 6, 1481, the Duke of Burgundy summoned the lords of Thiennes de Lombise, Hembise, Louvignies and Montignies to an assembly in Bruges.

The last Count of Montignies (Floris de Montmorency) died in Spain in 1570, under Philip II.

Pierre de Montmorency, descendant of the Grand Chamberlain of France, became by the death of Montigni, head of the name and arms of his illustrious house, (nobiliary tablets, t. IV. Pfl 22).
Afterwards, the castle became the residence of the monks. Which ? Undoubtedly, the monks of the abbey of Cambron Casteau who acquired this property and linked it to Cambron by an underground passage, the remains of which can be seen in the house currently inhabited by Joséphine Permanne, a house which was also the brewery of the monks at the time. : the current farmhouse was the chapel which, after the departure of the monks, was converted into a three-storey dwelling that had been removed over the ages. The kitchen was once the playroom; the windows are sash, the chicken coop was the home of the farmers, in the sheepfold is a box spring bearing the date of 1737, at the entrance to the courtyard was the drawbridge.
During the work carried out for the placement of the water pipe in 1956, the workers had to pierce an arch at the bottom, to the west of the farm stood a tower. Behind the buildings, a drive remains through which the monks went to the chapel of Our Lady of Tongres, near the fountain.
Afterwards, this chapel was demolished and with the stones, the thresholds of the stables were made, the disease and mortality reached the cattle, the current owner had the chapel rebuilt in 1354 and the scourge disappeared ... what must be done? think about it???
The last "owners" that we know of are, in 1869:

  • Mr de Bousies de Quenast (Aan.Arch. de mons. T.9 P155)
  • Dame Pauline de la barre d'Erquelinnes, wife of Baron Léon de Lamberts Cortenbach
  • Baroness Madeleine de Lamberts Cortenbach, married Henri De Quebedo
  • The grandparents and parents of Joséphine Authom,
  • Pierre Dauchot,
  • Jules Francois
  • Joseph Steenhaut.

Note: there is a large slab in the local cemetery with crests. The weapon silhouettes look great, but the wear and tear prevents you from piecing together the must-be-family past.


The Abbey of Saint Denis,

The chronicle of this monastery fixes the time of the invasion of the Northmans in the year 881. Tradition reports that it was at Barbefosse (Havre) that part of the Northmans would have been cut to pieces by the lord of Mons, son of Eppon, Count of Ostrenaut,

The monastery and the town of Soignies founded by Maldegairet (St. Vincent) were destroyed by the Northmans at the same time, they were raised from their ruins and fortified in 965 - 1150.

Tournai, at that time, 881, was set on fire and bloodshed by the Northmans and remained deserted for 30 years, the famous monastery of St Martin had suffered the same death,

St Ghislain had also suffered and its magnificent church built by Charlemagne, completely burnt down.

The territory of St Denis en Broqueroie was known in the 8th century as belonging to the abbey of Lobbes in 1081, Richilde, countess of Hainaut and her son Baudouin founded for the salvation of their souls the famous abbey of St Denis of the order of Augustinians, it was enclosed in the sylva major, or the great wood, it is this same abbey which was later known under the name of St Denis en Broqueroy, i.e. in the clearing of the wood (broke) (after the death of Richilde , his son Baudouin confirmed the donation made to St Denis and gave him the village with its outbuildings, namely: mills, meadows, woods, fields).

Gerard II, Bishop of Cambrai, confirmed this act in 1086, but it was not until 1090 that he donated the altar of this village to the Abbey of St Denis.

The year 1081, the countess Richilde gave to the abbot of St Denis in broqueroie a cense in Montignies with two serfs and all that belonged to them, as well as their sons, their daughters, for the service of the abbey, in 1081 also, the collation of the cure passes from the abbey of St Denis to the abbey of Hasnon,

In 1086, the countess Richilde gave the abbey of Hasnon the villages of Lens and Montignies with their affiliations: mills, woods, fields, meadows, serfs and servants and their families, the avorie (judicial power) over the serfs and servants had been given by the abbot of St Denis to the count of Hainaut, in December 1646 St Denis claimed against the priest of Montignies and the monastery of Hasnon the high justice and the large tithe on 18 bonniers of land located in this commune .

Cambron Abbey

The abbey of Cambron owes its origin to St Bernard who obtained, in 1148, from Anselme de Trazegnies, lord of Péronnes-lez-Binche, canon and treasurer of the chapter of Soignies, a considerable freehold which he possessed at Cambron, St Bernard came to visit the place and sent monks under the direction of Fastré de Gavialmez, a monk from Lombise. They took possession of the estate on August 1 and settled not far from the so-called St Bernard fountain which still exists, originally a humble retreat, Cambron gradually became, as and when rich donations were made, a splendid abbey, the monastery took place among the political powers; the abbot wore the miter and the crozier and took part in the council of Hainaut, the first abbey church dates from 1240: it has undergone, over the centuries, many transformations. it was a mixture of decadent Romanesque style, with ogival vaults, there were three naves with transept in the shape of a cross and three altars the illustrious donors had their coats of arms and even their burial there as evidenced by the great luxury of the last surviving mausoleums, the bell tower and its wonderful chimes were burned by lightning on August 5, 1774, the roof was restored and a new tower was rebuilt, Romanesque revival, which survived the demolition, it too was struck by lightning in 1875,

Whether its wealth attracted covetousness, or whether the long wars and successive dominations were harmful to it (requisitions, fires, bombings and looting) Cambron experienced many vicissitudes, the last was its suppression, its goods dispersed, sold, its splendours delivered to the rage of the wreckers. (After A. Dubois)

Note: The 'Ferme Bourgeois' and 'Ferme du Marais' farms in Montignies belonged to the abbey of Cambron. The fortified castle was also a monastic residence,

The 12th abbot of Cambron was Jacques de Montignies in 1293. He died in 1315.

feudal law,

Menus made:

Baudouin de Montignies and Hainaut had given to Guillaume de la Catoire, with his daughter in marriage, all the alleu and all the part he had in Jurbise under the name of fief, all the alleu he had in Montignies -lez-Lens under the name of Pomeroie (apple orchard) and which he had bought from the abbey of Cambron in 1265.

There was in Montignies-lez-Lens a fief simple held by the court of fions, by quintin Ghislain consisting of 12 bonniers of wood, named the wood of Bléronsaert holding the road going from Montignies to Louvignies, to the heritage of the abbey of Cambron and to the poor of Montignies. (State archives in Mons).

The meadows known as Harchies préaux in Montignies were common to peasants from St Remy (October) until mid-May; until June 1, the lord, prince of Ligne, passed them to his profit, so that the farmers only enjoyed them for four months of the year.

In 1471, Gossart de Montignies-lez-Lens, shepherd of the abbey of Cambron, being ill, had left his house and had gone to die at Cambron St Vincent, the abbot raised his coat as a right of mortmain and better catel who struck foreigners. The right to better catel by Jean II, dit d'Avesnes, Count of Hainaut, but despite this, the old customs still existed in 1790.

Chivalry and the Crusades.

The 4th crusade under Baudouin of Constantinople brought together a greater number of knights from our region. Among them, we notice Evrard de Montignies.

The abbey of the Trinitarians of Lens, today the town hall, dates from 1223. It was founded by Joan of Constantinople for the redemption of Christians reduced to slavery by the Turks. It was especially intended for the pilgrims who went to Palestine and for the Crusaders held prisoner,