by Elco B
Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 11:35:34 AM EST
In the LondonMeet Shoe Blogging diary, Helen proves again she knows about beer, even Belgian beer. I must admit she demonstrates a more extensive knowledge than I have despite being Flemish and having three breweries 'around the corner'.
In the thread afew mentioned 'Gueuze' might be a Flemish word. Well he was right, partially ! But to explain we need a bit of history and we will discover multicultural influences already exist in Europe since a long time.
from the diaries
Indeed, the origin is the French word 'gueux' wich means beggar, vagrant but also rascal, wretch. But on 8 april 1566 (no typo, and yes we have a precise date!) the French 'Gueux' became the Dutch (the Netherlands) and Flemish 'Geus' (plural: Geuzen; adj.: Geuze- ).
This Dutch-Flemish word was used for de famous Belgian beer and re-translated for the French and the Enlish again as 'Gueuze'.
This is the short story. Of course you can read more about 'Les Gueux'(Geuzen) and a historical approach can be found in this excellent overvieuw: The Revolt of the Netherlands.
But both articles miss an important insight.
Let's go back to 1566 in the Netherlands;
- The Netherlands were under Spanish rule (King Philips II)represented in Brussels by his half-sister, Margaret of Parma, governess of the Netherlands, with a Walloon noble named Granvelle as her chief adviser.
- The Netherlands then contained roughly the area of Belgium and the Netherlands of now.
- As everywhere in Europe then, protestant and reformist movements gained importance, and this was heavely persecuted by the Spanish who were catholic. This repression will deroriate in the famous Spanish Inquisition
- In april 1566 lots of important people of the whole area were in Brussels to attend the marriage of yhe son of the governess, Margaret of Parma. So this was an occasion for meetings. The result was a 'petition' signed by thousands, in wich they demanded lower taxes and more religious freedom from the Spanish rulers.
- On 5 april 1566, 200 noblemen delivered the petition in Brussels at the governess at which occasion her adviser said (in French): "Madame, ce ne sont que des gueux" (they only are beggars).
- Three days later 8 april, during a meeting between noblemen again and after drinking a lot of beer the slogan " We all are Gueux" was launched and the word took of in Dutch and Flemish : Geus! A movement of resistance was born, took the name of 'Geuzen' and after years of disputes, wars, massacres and diplomacy resulted in the independence of the Netherlands later in 1609.
So we see the French word, with a negative connotation, became a Dutch word with positive meaning.
The word is still actively used both in the Netherlands and Flanders. 'Geus' stands for resistance against injustice, fighter for freedom and self government.
It has the connotation of the oppressed individual or minority opposing a stronger oppressor.
A pitty Nomad is not around to give his opinion about this, I'm sure he could explain this better.
And what about the beer?: well there are numerous story's about how Geuze became the name of a beer. In fact there are so many, nobody can tell for sure the real origin was.
In Belgium and the Netherlands 'Geus' or simular names still exist as family name, we have streets, parks and squares with 'Geus' or 'Geuze' in it.
Maby someone gave his name on the beer, or the brewer lived in 'Geuzestreet'.... somebody knows?