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Who would have thought that our ancestors had made it into the Spanish language?

I as baffled when I first heard this expression : “poner una pica en Flandes” (literally, to put a pike in Flanders) means “to achieve the impossible, to reach a milestone”.

My ancestors suffered a lot during the Spanish times, it is quite a dark period in Flemish history, due to the inquisition and the repression. They have filled up quite a few history books there.

In fact it was a constant battle against the Spanish, which eventually led to the splitting up of the Netherlands in 1581 in the Northern (now known as the Netherlands) and the Southern (now part of Belgium, also called Flanders) Netherlands (who remained under Spanish rule until 1713).

For the Flanders  this meant the end of their economic importance and the beginning or poverty. In 1585 the North closed down the river the Scheldt and thus closed the harbour of Antwerp, which was the biggest port of Europe. It is because of this Spanish period that all the Flemish are catholic, where as the Dutch are all Protestant. In 1585 every Flemish who had money, who had studied, who had a profession, fled to the north. Only the rich who owned land and the poor farmers had no choice but to stay. Thus began the poorest and darkest period in Flemish history.

We have a few Spanish words incorporated in Flemish, especially in the dialects. For example, in our dialect we say “en tons” which is “en dan” in correct flemish, but has the exact same meaning as “entonces”. “Zavatten” are house shoes… Even today the nickname of inhabitants of Antwerp is ‘sinjoren’ (señor).

But I didn’t know that we -my ancestors- made it into the Spanish language. I am proud of them!