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Kraainem (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Kraainem]

Municipal flag of Kraainem - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 29 October 2006

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Presentation of Kraainem

The municipality of Kraainem (13,105 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 584 ha) is located on the eastern border of the Region of Brussels-Capital. The official language in the municipality is Dutch, but there are "linguistic facilities" for the French-speaking inhabitants.

Kraainem was in the past located in a very marshy area often flooded by the river Woluwe. In the Roman times, there were two fords crossing the river, one in Watermael-Boitsfort and one in Kraainem. The latter ford was used by the Roman way Bruges-Cologne, along which the towns of Ghent, Brussels, Leuven, Tongeren and Liège developed. This was also the confluency of the Woluwe and the Maelbeek. Accordingly, Kraainem became a local center of trade, agriculture and peat extraction; mills developed later along the Woluwe as well as brickyards, which all disappeared in the 1950s.
The region of Kraainem was evangelized by St. Lambert. A primitive church was built in the beginning of the IXth century on the site of the today's church, in which some remains of the Merovingian church can be seen, for instance the four sandstone small columns decorated with horned ibex' heads. The tower of the church dates from the XIIth century. In the Middle Ages, Kraainem belonged to the St. Bavo abbey in Ghent, owned by the Count of Flanders. In 940, Count Arnout transferred Kraainem to his son-in-law, the Count of Wijnen. The Wijnen family kept the domain until the XIIth century; it was a powerful family, which owned also the abbey of Affligem and the domains of Moorsel, Sterrebeek and Stockel. The name of the village was then written Crayenhem, related to the crow (in Dutch, kraai) or to the cross (in Dutch, kruis). It was then an important stopping place for the merchants travelling between Flanders and the German Empire, who used the road known as Keulse Baan (Cologne road), modelled on the ancient Roman way. Kraainem was already divided in three boroughs:
- Neer Kraainem (in French, Bas Kraainem) - Lower Kraainem
- Hoog Kraainem (in French, Haut Kraainem) - Upper Kraainem, where the lord's castle was located. The lower and upper Kraainems were linked by a path lined with several pubs, called cassey van Crainhem or chaussée de Crainhem.
- Stockel, then mostly covered by the forest of Soignes and a big farm, linked to Hoog Kraainem by a rural path where the villagers used to pick up wood and hunt-poach.

At the end of the XIth century, the lords of Kraainem were suzereigns of the Duke of Brabant; they were also "patrons" of the abbey of Nivelles. Around 1143, Kraainem was transferrede to Wouter Van Belle, husband of Bertha Van Aa, daughter of the Baron of Anderlecht. They owned not only Kraainem but also Anderlecht, Gooik, Beringen, Wemmel, Lombeek and Dilbeek. The big domain was split at the end of the XIIth century and Kraainem was reduced to its today's territory. Population was then 300-400 (81 families), who lived mostly from agriculture, wine growing and brewery. The village nearly disappeared in the XVth century, with only 22 houses, because of the wars, hunger and the black plague. At the end of the XVIIth century, there were in Kraainem 29 houses, two breweries, four inns and five shops for 150-200 inhabitants. The village was sacked several times, for instance in 1711, when the ashes of St. Pancrace, kept since more than 700 years, were scattered. Kraainem had 552 inhabitants in 1786; beside war and hunger, the main cause of trouble was the floods of the Woluwe.
In 1842, Kraainem was still a rural village with limited means of communications. The villagers walked if they could not afford a horse. An official report from 1892 mentions that "nobody in the municipality of Crainhem owns a velocipede". The urbanization of Kraainem started in Stockel in 1927 but has been reayly important only since 1954.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 29 October 2006

Municipal flag of Kraainem

The municipal flag of Kraainem is vertically divided blue-yellow with a yellow pot in canton.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 20 March 1984, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 3 December 1984 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986.
The colours of the flag and the pot come from the municipal arms.

The municipal arms of Kraainem are shown by Servais as "Or a fess azure three pots or". They were granted by Royal Decree on 3 May 1924, after a seal of the municipal council dated 1696. The arms belonged to the Kieffelt family, lords of Kraainem from 1624 to the XVIIIth century.
The municipal website says that the complete municipal arms, with Wouter Van Belle and Bertha Van Aa as the supporters, reproduce the sculpture decorating the tombstone of Georges Kieffelt, lord of Kraainem in 1626-1653, today kept in the Marie la Misérable chapel of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 29 October 2006