The part of Europe to which the Voer-region belongs, has been coveted by people since prehistoric days. The soil, the landscape, the presence of much water and the location near the rivers Meuse and Rhine, will have contributed to this attraction. Thousands of years before Christ our prehistoric ancestors used the flintstone which was abundantly present. The Romans exploited one, possibly even two, large villas and the Francian and Carolingian (or Carlovingian) kings kept a royal farm here. Our region was in great demand and this created much tension between East- and West Francia and led to many a quarrel between the local feudal lords.
The Steenboschapel was constructed with reused Roman building material
In the Roman period, in the border region are likely to find two large villas back.
The Battle of Woeringen, 5 June 1288
When duke John I of Brabant won the Battle of Woeringen (5 June 1288), our area was finally won over to the west. We were ruled, as ”Countries of Overmaze” (i.e. across the Meuse) from Brabant, leaving the princedom of Liège behind. This took us into the Burgundian influence sphere and that of the Low Countries of emperor Charles V and his Habsburgian successors. But under the Spanish rule we found ourselves once again in the middle of the battlefield in the fight with the Dutch who had made Maastricht a garrison town.
Even after the Treaty of Munster (Peace of Westphalia, 1648) the region continued to be a real patchwork of Spanish and United Provinces (Dutch) areas. Although relatively calm, it lasted until the Peace of Utrecht (1714) before Austria temporarily brought political stability in the region. During the French occupation, the Countries of Dalhem and Limburg, including the Voer-villages were classified in the Department of Ourthe and the southern Dutch neighbour villages in the department of the Lower Meuse. The separation was thus accomplished. The Dutch government did not change this between 1815 and 1830 and thus, when Belgium was created, the Limburg speaking areas (up to Eupen) shifted into the French-speaking province of Liège (which they had historically never belonged to).
BACK TO LIMBURG IN 1963
The pressure of German in the east and French in the south gradually supplanted the Limburgish language; until 1945 it only remained in the Voer-villages. On September 1, 1963, the language border agreement and the laws on the use of languages (respectively. 1930 and 1932), led ultimately to the transfer from the Voer-region to the province of Limburg and subsequently to the Flemish Region. Although an administrative Flemish Limburg Island, wedged between the Walloon Region and the Dutch border, the Voer-region is an ideal meeting place for the surrounding cultures and peoples and its future is assured as the Flemish government and the inhabitants want to invest in it.
The Burgundian period 1453
The Land of Outremeuse 1650
The French occupation 1795
The language border in 1963
The flag and coat of arms of the municipality of Voeren
The coat of arms of Voeren is based on that of the former municipality of ‘s-Gravenvoeren. The crest was confirmed on December 9, 1988 by the Flemish minister of culture. Heraldically it is described as follows: “Per Cross or Quarterly, 1. and 4. In argent, one double tailed lion in gules (red), armed with crown, claws and tongue in gold, 2. and 3. In sable (black), one double tailed lion in gold, claws and tongue in gules (red).”
The arms are based on that of the dukes of Brabant and Limburg. Until 1080 the power centre of the Land of Dalhem probably lay in ‘s-Gravenvoeren.
Is the dialect of Voeren a Germanic dialect?
“The dialects of the Voer-region are related to the dialectal division range of Belgian Limburg, Dutch Limburg and the German northeast part of the province of Liege, “said Dr. Jose Cajot.
“With these and other dialects of the German language, they form a heterogeneous transition zone between the Brabantian in the west and the Ripuarian in the east. Those dialects are scientifically called Lower East Franconian, Lower South Franconian or just Limburgian ”
It is not recommended tu use the term Plat Diets (Plat Deutsch) for the dialects of the Voer- region, as this could give the impression that they are something different and clearly distinct from the regional languages of the surrounding areas of Belgian Limburg in the west and the Dutch Limburg neighboring villages in the north.
In the past, the Dutch languages was also called Diets / Duuts and Low German.
Diets/Duuts : language of the people of the Middle Ages until about 1500
Dutch : from about 1514, and mainly in the southern Netherlands (Flanders)
Low German : from the mid 16th century until early 20th century
Dutch and German are two separate Germanic languages, equivalent cultures and languages. The Voeren-dialect It’s not a German but a local collection of Dutch dialects.