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Bertem (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
Keywords: bertem | saltire (red) | cross (red) | chevron (yellow) | pears: 3 (yellow) | shells: 3 (yellow) | flower (red) | heverlee |
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[Flag of Bertem]

Municipal flag of Bertem - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 24 May 2007

See also:

Presentation of Bertem and its villages

The municipality of Bertem (9,250 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,975 ha) is located east of Brussels. The municipality of Bertem is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Bertem (1,059 ha), Korbeek-Dijle (412 ha) and Leefdaal (1,510 ha).

Bertem was known in 1371 as Berthem, from Beritjahaima, "the estate in the marshes". Alderik, a monk from Charles the Bald's lineage, transfered Bertem to the abbey of Corbie (Picardy). In 1139, Reinier, lord of Heverlee, owned Meerdaal, Oud-Heverlee, Egenhoven, Bertem, Assent and Buken. Bertem was famous in the middle of the XIXth century for its cattle dealers, locally called tuisers. There were 10 tuisers in Bertem in 1846 and 26 in 1857. They formed a kind of brotherhood with a very specific activity linked to the local markets, on Monday in Leuven, on Tuesday in Tienen, on Wednesday in Wavre and on Saturday in Sint-Truiden.

Korbeek was mentioned in a document dated 1210, as Corbais and later, in 1443, as Cortbeke. The name of the village is made on the Germanic roots kurta baki, "a short brook" or "a murmuring brook". The Dijle is a river known in 1008 as Thilia, a river. In the Middle Ages, the village was split into two domains belonging one to a family from Brussels and the other to a family from Leuven. The two domains were merged in 1628. King Philip IV of Spain made in 1661 a Barony with the domains of Korbeek-Dijle and Steenberg, granted to the Dongelberg family. In 1696, the rights on Korbeek-Dijle were sold and the village was again an independent domain, whose last lord was Philippus Ludovicus Josephus Crabbeels d'Ormendael, expelled by the French Revolution.

Leefdaal, known in the XIIth century as Levendale or Levedale, is the place of St. Verona's legend, written around 1500 but probably more ancient. Verona and her twin brother Veronus were the only children of the German Emperor Louis, follower of Charlemagne. Their father decided to marry them when aged 16; Veronus refused since he preferred to serve God and left the country to escape his father's pressure. Verona was the only one to know he had left. She refused a marriage with the Hungarian Crown Prince and her father gave up. The Imperial couple died and Verona inherited the throne. She shared her goods among the poor and founded a religious community in Veronhove, on the river Rhine. Five years after the death of the Emperor, the trees in the palace bowed down towards the west. Verona understood that it was the secrete sign of the death of her brother somewhere in the west. Using a cart pulled by oxen, she searched for her brother's grave. She travelled to Maastricht and then to Leuven. The oxen stopped near a church built on a hill, where she asked the Lord to give her the directions to her brother's tomb. Two German pilgrims recognized her Empress and asked her something to drink; she drove her staff into the ground and a source gushed forth, which was named after her. The fountain can still be seen in Leefdaal. Verona moved to Lembeek, where her brother was buried, and came back one month later in her country.
Ten years later, in 870, the Empress felt she would die soon and travelled again to Brabant on her cart. She caught fever in Mayence and died. According to her last wishes, her body should be placed on the cart and the oxen given their head. However, the Bishop and the burghers attempted to keep Verona's body as a precious relic, which was not a good idea: the local St. Peter's church crashed down and epidemics scoured the town. The burghers fulfilled Verona's wish and the cart with her body stopped on Vroeienberg, in Brabant. The inhabitants of the village buried the saint Empress in the church, which was renamed after her.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 24 May 2007

Municipal flag of Bertem

The municipal flag of Bertem is white with a red saltire engrailed.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 17 May 1988, confirmed by Royal Decree on 5 October 1988 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 November 1989.
The flag is based on the seals of Jan of Bertem and Raduf of Bertem, magistrates of Leuven in 1343 and 1472, respectively. The colours are taken from a the arms of a Bertem family, but reverted.
The municipal website confirms this flag and adds details on the saltire. Johannes of Bertheem's seal (1343) bore an engrailed saltire with in chief an escutcheon with three pales and the same chief ("met effen schildhoofd"). Radulphus of Berthem, magistrate of Leuven (1472) and Jan of Berthem, magistrate of Brussels (1566), bore the same shield.

[Flag of Bertem]

Flag of Bertem (unknown status) - Image by Ivan Sache, 24 May 2007

The municipal website shows the photography of another flag, white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle. It must be unofficial.

The arms of Bertem are described as:
1. in goud een schuinkruis van keel
2. in lazuur een keper van goud vergezeld van drie gouden peren
3. in lazuur drie schelpen van goud
4. in goud een vijfblad van keel geknopt met lazuur.

(Quarterly, 1. Or a saltire gules, 2. Azure a chevron or three pears of the same, 3. Azure three scallops or, 4. Or a cinquefoil gules seeded azure.)
The first quarter shows the old arms of Bertem, granted by Royal Decree (signed by the Regent) on 31 October 1946. Municipal seals of Bertem dated 1416 and 1422 show the saltire of the lords of Heverlee, used by the municipality of Heverlee, incorporated into Leuven in 1976.
The fourth quarter shows the old arms of Leefdal, granted by Royal Decree on 5 March 1954. The seals of the lords of Leefdaal in 1275 and 1305 were charged with quintefoils and a network of crossed lines. The original arms of the lords bore three roses. The Gelre Armorial shows "Or three cinquefoils gules seeded azure a canton gules an eagle argent beaked and membered azure" for Arnold Atrives, lord of Leefdale (De He. van Leefdale, #810, folio 72v).
There is no explanation of the second and third quarters.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 16 June 2008