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Edegem (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-01-09 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Edegem - Images by Arnaud Leroy, 28 October 2005
Left, flag is use
Right, flag according to the official specifications - not in use

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Presentation of Edegem

The municipality of Edegem (21,616 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 865 ha; municipal website) borders the town of Antwerp in the south. Edegem seems to be a rather favoured town: the jobless rate was in 2002 4.9% lower than the average of the arrondissement of Antwerp; in 2000, the income of the inhabitants of Edegem was 1/3 higher than the Belgian average. Edegem and Schilde are the only two municipalities in the province of Antwerp where the average income is higher than 14,000 €. According to a survey made by the newspaper Gazet Van Antwerpen, Edegem is the seventh most pleasant municipality where to live (the context - country, province, arrondissement - of the survey is unfortunately not mentioned). Its motto is "The municipality where it is nice to live" (Gemeente, waar het goed is om te wonen).
The happy inhabitants of Edegem are nicknamed Zonneblussers (Sunquenchers). Once in the middle of the 19th century was shouted "Fire, fire!". The alarm bell was rang and people came from everywhere with buckets and ladders. They found that the alleged blaze was nothing but sun reflecting on a window.

Edegem officially inaugurated on 21 January 1998 its jubilee year "Edegem 825". Edegem was indeed mentioned fot the first time, under its ancient name of Buizegem, in 1173, 825 years earlier. The relevant document prescribes the transmission of the church of "Buyseghem" to a new lord. Around 1300, a new church built in the borough of Edegem became the center of the parish. Since there remained in Buizegem only a church falling in ruins and an old cemetary, a village developed around the new church of Edegem. Centuries later, in the second half of the 19th century, the romantic legend of "Mennerke van Buizegem" related the transfer of the church from Buizegem to Edegem, A festival is organized every year, starting on 30 April, to celebrate the legend. The new village of Edegem grew in the late Middle Ages. Plots from the village farm were allocated to building houses. In 1387, Edegem was ceded to the lord of Cantecroy, already lord of Mortsel. The two domains formed the domain of Cantecroy, named after the castle of Cantincrode. A municipal council (schepenbank), also known as the Law (de wet), was formed. Cantecroy belonged successively to the families of Ranst, Pontaillier (1539-1546), Perrenot (the family of the famous Cardinal de Granvelle, 1549-1616), Maes (1616), Godines (1627-1652) and Fiennes (1652-1781). Cantecroy became a County in 1570. In the 18th century, the municipal councillors of Edegem formed a separate college; in 1781, the domain of Cantecroy was divided into the two domains of Edegem and Mortsel.
From 1500 to 1830, Edegem was submitted to an alternation of war and peace periods, as it was the case for the whole region of Antwerp. The Royal St. Sebastian Bowmen Guild (Koninklijke Handbooggilde Sint-Sebastiaan) still recalls the beginning of that period. The guild already existed in 1512. Edegem was sacked in 1566 by the iconoclasts and in 1585 by the Spaniards besieging Antwerp, who burned down the church. In the beginning of the 17th century, 38 out of the 85 houses of Edegem were uninhabited. There was some rest after the Twelve Years' War (1609-1621). In the 1632-1642, the so-called Retortion (Retorsie) caused the banishment of clergymen and members of the municipal administration. The peace of Munster brought back peace. Edegem was damaged again during Louis XIV's wars, at the end of the 17th century. In 1797, all churches were closed during the so-called "closure period" (Besloten Tijd). In 1830, there was a fierce artillery fighting between the Belgian volunteers and the Dutch troops in the Molenveld.
In the 19th century, Edegem was a quite and wealthy rural village. In the 20th century, mostly after the Second World War, the village attracted more and more people and morphed into a villa village. There were less than 1,000 inhabitants in Edegem in 1831 but 7,000 in 1930 and 20,000 in 1972. There is nearly no industry in Edegem, which is a typical affluent municipality. Edegem is also known as a grotto municipality, because a replica of the grotto of Lourdes was built there in 1884.

The most famous citizen of Edegem was the rascal Cornelius Guldentop, portrayed in Marie Gevers' novel Guldentop (1935). Guldentop was beheaded on the Market Square in Antwerp on 30 October 1799; since then, his ghost shows up frequently near the castle of Mussenburg in Edegem, where he was arrested by the French gendarmes in 1799. Of course, Guldentop hid his booty somewhere in the domain of Mussenburg, where his beheaded ghost is sometimes seen searching for the treasure.

Ivan Sache, 28 October 2005

Flag of Edegem

The municipal flag of Edegem is white with a black lion with a red tongue and claws.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag, adopted on 29 April 1982 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree issued on 6 June 1989 by the Executive of Flanders and published on 8 November 1989 in the Belgian Official Gazette.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

According to the municipal website, the arms of Edegem, adopted on 26 February 1930 by the Municipal Council, are prescribed by a Royal Decree adopted on 1 September 1932 and published on 24-25 October 1932 in the Belgian official gazette, as "Argent a lion sable armed and langued gules, the shield surmounted by a crown with fifteen pearls three above the others".
These are the arms of the lords of Fiennes, used as a seal by the Municipal Council since 1752.

The lords of Fiennes are a very ancient lineage. The Gelre Armorial shows "Argent a lion sable armed and langued gules" for Robert "Moreau" de Fiennes (Die H. v. Vielgen, #414, folio 49v). Enguerrand de Fiennes, bearing the same arms, took part of the famous tournament of Lagny-sur-Marne (1180-1181), and died in 1218 during the Fourth Crusade. The lineage started with Eustache of Fiennes, c. 1050.
This very same arms are used by the municipality of Fiennes, located in the region of Boulonnais, north of France, and the origin of the family of Fiennes. Fiennes was one of the four main chastellenies of the County of Boulogne (Boulonnais), defended by a big castle, which was suppressed in 1320 following an uprising against the Countess of Artois, and later rebuilt. Robert "Moreau" of Fiennes was Constable of France until 1370 and efficiently limited the English invasion of Boulonnais. The story says that he planted his banner on a strategic place and swore the English would never pass by, which was fulfilled. The castle of Fiennes was burned in 1543 by Henri VIII; the Duke of Étampes, lord of Fiennes, rebuilt a new fortress near the abbey of Beaulieu.

Both Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel and Van evers en heiligen: Wapens en vlaggen van gemeenten in de provincie Antwerpen [pbd98] show the flag and arms of Edegem with the official version of the Flemish lion. However, the real flag and arms in use in Edegem show a different design for the lion. That lion has only three claws, a feature that caused the rejection of a flag proposal for the province of East Flanders.

Arnaud Leroy, Jan Mertens, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 28 October 2005

Municipal logotype of Edegem

On 7 Jan 2000, a new house style was introduced. In daily practice, the new logotype is somewhat displacing the traditional coat of arms, but it has the merit of retaining the lion. Paraphrasing the official text describing the logotype, we have:

  • The lion illustrates the historic urge towards well-being, a strong sense of conservatism and respect for old symbols. The horizontal lines represent the dynamic aspect;
  • The shield symbolizes the security and unity the municipality offers. Lion and shield together symbolize strength and an urge to rapid progress, with a conservative reflex thrown in;
  • The sun is a reference to the nickname 'the Sunquenchers': thinking a house was on fire, people wanted to put out the flames only to find that the sun was reflected in a window. One part of the sun 'puts out' the other.

The logotype appears on flags, stickers, forms, signs, etc.. Moreover, each municipal service has got its own colour.

Jan Mertens, 30 June 2003