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Aartselaar (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-09-06 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Aartselaar]

Municipal flag of Aartselaar - Image by Ivan Sache, 18 March 2001

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Presentation of Aartselaar

The municipality of Aartselaar (14,325 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 1,093 ha) is located just south of the town of Antwerp.

The origin of the name of the town is obscure; the most probable etymology refers to "Arcelar", a clearing in the woods (laar) located near a border (archas).
Until the end of the upper Middle Ages, Aartselaar was a hamlet of the domain of Kontich, that spread up to the rivers Scheldt and Rupel, encompassing the municipalities of Aartselaar, Boom, Edegem, Hemiksem, Hove, Kontich, Lint, Mortsel, Niel, Reet, Schelle and Waarloos. Originally belonging to the abbey of Lobbes, the domain of Kontich was then transferred to the famous Berthout of Mechelen.
In 1309, the parish of Aartselaar seceded from the mother parish of Kontich, while a wooden chapel had been built in 1302; the chapel then became a church, that was increased several times. While Aartselaar remained administratively a part of Kontich, the border between the two parishes was later reused as the border between the two towns.

At the end of the Middle Ages, King Philip I of Spain, lacking money, sold several domains to local lords; Adriaan Sanders (d. 1495), lord of Cleydael, purchased the hamlet of Aartselaar. In 1557, Knight Charles Micault, lord of Cleydael, purchased from Philip II of Spain pieces of lands in the parish of Aartselaar and founded the independent domain of Aartselaar, which was granted a municipal court in 1558. In 1644, Pascal François van den Cruyce completely owned the two domains of Aartselaar and Cleydael and transferred them to his descendants, who kept the two domains until the end of the Ancient Regime.
During the reign of Maria-Theresia, a paved road was built through Aartselaar in 1758-1763, linking Boom to Antwerp, therefore the forerunner of the modern A12 road.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 14 June 2008

Municipal flag of Aartselaar

The municipal flag of Aartselaar is vertically divided yellow-blue, seven stripes.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 28 February 1985, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 1 April 1985 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986. The flag is based on a shield depicted on the former municipal arms of Aartselaar.

The arms granted to Aartselaar by Royal Decree on 29 March 1839 are shown by Servais as "Azure a St. Leonard or holding dexter a shield or a cross azure and sinister a shield or three pales azure".
The sinister shield is a wrong representation of the Berthout arms, "Or three pales gules", probably granted "in the national colours" under the Dutch rule and left unchanged after the independence of Belgium.

As reported on the municipal website, the arms of Aaertselar were eventually corrected by the Municipal Council on 22 October 1992 and confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 16 February 1993, as Twee schilden naast elkaar. 1. in lazuur een ankerkruis van goud. 2. in goud drie palen van keel. De twee schilden geplaatst voor een Sint Leonardus van goud ("Two shields placed side by side. 1. Azure a cross moline or. 2. Or three pales gules. The two shields supported by a St. Leonard or").
The arms of Berthout are shown in their true colours while the first shield shows the canting arms of the van den Cruyce family. But the flag remained unchanged, showing a or-and-azure banner of the arms of Berthout.

Servais explains the mythical origin of the arms of Berthout as follows:
In the XIIth century, a lord Berthout helped the King of Aragon in his struggle against the Moors. He fought there three times; the first time, he was rewarded with an estate and the title of provincial governor, the second time he was rewarded with the King's daughter, but refused both and went back to Flanders. The third time, the King asked Berthout what he would like as a reward. Berthout asked for the right to bear the arms of Aragon and was granted them with three pales instead of four, celebrating his three victories over the Moors.

The Gelre Armorial shows several Berthout coat of arms:
- Berthout, "Die He. (the Lord) van Mechelen", 809, folio 72v: "Or three pales gules";
- Henri VII Berthout, "Die He. van Duffel", 833, folio 73v: "Or three pales gules (Berthout) a franc canton ermine";
- Jean de Berlaer (Berthout), "Die He. van Helmunt" (Helmont), 838, folio 73v: "Argent three pales gules (Berlaer)",
- Guillaume Berthout de Duffel, "H. Willem v. Duffel", 893, folio 75v; "Or three pales gules a franc canton ermine a crescent sable".

Ivan Sache, Pascal Vagnat & Jan Mertens, 14 June 2008