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Brasschaat (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2020-09-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: brasschaat | sint-mariaburg | mariaburg |
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Flag of Brasschaat - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 4 November 2006

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Presentation of Brasschaat

The municipality of Brasschaat (37,133 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,849 ha; municipal website) is located 10 km north of Antwerp. Due to its several parks and villas, the town was nicknamed "The Antwerp Versailles".

The name of Brasschaat appeared in 1269 as Breesgata. In 1482, a nuns' convent, from which a few ruins are still visible, was built in Mishagen. Due to the war, the population of Ekeren-Brasschaat decreased from 4,500 inhabitants and 383 horses in 1593 to 420 inhabitants and 59 horses in 1575; the population increased again to 1,250 in 1610 (the number of horses is not given), but the 1619 black plague left only 26 families. The proposal of separating Brasschaat from Ekeren (now incorporated to Antwerp) was tabled in 1817 by Joannes-Baptista Aerden and Willem Gerart; this was officialized by Royal Decree on 14 November 1823. In spite of the appointment of a Mayor (Aerden) and a Municipal Council on 9 September 1824, Aerden died on 2 February 1829 before the effective secession of Brasschaat (1 January 1830).

Ivan Sache, 4 November 2006

Flag of Brasschaat

The flag of Brasschaat is horizontally divided red-white-red (1:3:1) with the municipal coat of arms in the center.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag, adopted on 31 May 1979 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Royal Decree issued on 12 December 1979 and published on 1 November 1979 in the Belgian official gazette.
The flag was designed on the model of the flag of Antwerp.

According to the municipal website, the arms of Brasschaat were originally granted by Royal Decree on 18 November 1913 as "Gules a salmon argent surmounted in chief by two lozenges of the same the whole surrounded by eight crosses of St. Andrew of the same; the shield supported by a St. Anthony at his feet a pig with a bell, all argent.

The elements of the arms recall former lords of Brasschaat as follows:
- the cross of St. Andrew for the lords of Breda. The town of Breda, today in the Dutch North-Brabant province, uses a banner of its arms made of three white crosses of St. Andrew on a red field. The Belgian town of Schoten uses the same flag and arms. The lords of Breda and Schoten descend from the Dukes of Strijen, in Zeeland, who used the same arms. The Dutch municipality of Strijen changed the field of the arms to yellow. The arms of the lords of Breda are shown in the Lalaing Armorial (1560-1570), #16, folio 72r.
- the lozenges for the Lalaing family. The Gelre Armorial shows "Gules ten lozenges argent placed 3,3,3 and 1" for Nicolas II, lord of Lalaing (Die He. v. Lalayn, #1047, folio 84r) and "Quarterly 1 and 4 gules ten lozenges argent placed 3, 3, 3 and 1 (Lalaing), 2 and 3 or a chief bendy argent and gules (Quiévrain)" for Simon of Lalaing, lord of Quiévrain (H. ... Lalain, #1032, folio 83v).
The Lalaing Armorial shows "Gules ten lozenges argent placed 3,3,3 and 1" for Lalaing (Lalaing, #170, folio 80v).
The Lalaing had their castle in Ecaussinnes-Lalaing from 1386 to 1476, following the marriage of Jeanne d'Écaussines with Simon de Lalaing, Grand Bailiff of Hainaut and Seneschal of Ostrevent, in 1357, and from 1529 to 1624.
- the salm for the Princes of Salm-Salm, who succeeded the Lalaing as the lords of Ekeren-Brasschaat.

The representation of St. Anthony with his pig with a bell is to be found on the seal used on the acts concerning the old chapel, dedicated to St. Anthony and later replaced by the St. Anthony parish church in Brasschaat. According to the French medievist Émile Mâle, the pig with the bell is one of the traditional attributes of the saint, but has nothing to do with his life. On 11 October 1131, King of France Louis le Gros rode in Paris with his son Philippe; the prince's horse was scared by a stray pig, the prince came off and died. Accordingly, the king decreed that pigs would no longer be allowed in the streets. In 1261, King Louis XI confirmed the law but exempted the pigs owned by the St. Anthony abbey, provided they bear a bell engraved with a cross. The pig appeared on the saint's iconography at the end of the XIVth century.


Former municipal colors of Brasschaat - Image by Ivan Sache, 4 November 2006

The municipal website states that, in the past, Brasschaat used a blue-yellow flag as its unofficial colors. They were borrowed from the family of Baillet Latour, that used these family colours to decorate their buildings during festivals. The Baillet family, coming from the Duchy of Bar, settled in the Duchy of Luxembourg on the XVIIthe century; they were ennobled by King of Spain Charles II in 1674. When granted the domain of Latour, located near Virton, the family, following the use of the times, changed its name to Baillet-Latour. Jean-Baptiste de Baillet, Lord of Latour, was made Count by Empress Maria-Theresia in 1744.

The most famous members of the family are:
- Feldmarshall Count de Baillet Latour (1740-1806). From 1790 to 1806, he owned the Latour Dragons cavalry regiment raised in the Austrian Netherlands, which brilliantly fought during the Kolin battle on 18 June 1757 (Seven Years' War). The regiment also served against the French revolutionary troops during the invasion of Belgium in 1792 and against Napoléon's army, especially in Hohenlinden (1800) and Ulm (1805). In 1791, Emperor Leopold II granted to the regiment a gold medal, to be attached to its colour, with the writing A la fidélité et valeur signalée du régiment de Latour Dragons, reconnue par l'Empereur et Roy (To the loyalty and distinguished value of the Latour Regiment, acknowledged by the Emperor and King). After the Count's death, the regiment was sold to Prince Windischgrätz. When raised, the regiment was made of very young men, who were exempted from the wearing of the moustache, which was mandatory in the Austrian cavalry. Following the battle of Kolin, this privilege was confirmed to the regiment.
- Joseph de Baillet Latour (1787-1864). He was member of the National Congress, which proclaimed the independence of Belgium in 1830, and Vice-President of the Senate.
- Ferdinand de Baillet Latour (1789-1842), Joseph's brother. He was Chamberlain of King of the Netherlands William I anf Governor of the Province of West Flanders.
- Léon de Baillet Latour (1812-1884), Joseph and Ferdinand's nephew. He was Governor of the Province of Namur.
- Ferdinand de Baillet Latour (1850-1925), Léon's grand son. He was Senator and Governor of the Province of Antwerp.
- Henri de Baillet Latour (1876-1942), Ferdinand' son. He founded the Belgian Olympic Committee and organized the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp; in 1925, he succeeded Pierre de Coubertin as the third President of the International Olympic Committee.
- Alfred de Baillet Latour (1901-1980), Henri's nephew. He worked for the Brasseries Artois and joined the Board of Directors of the company in 1947. He was the last heir of the Baillet Latour lineage and founded the Fonds InBev Baillet Latour for the promotion and support of scientific, academic and cultural activities in Belgium.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 4 November 2006


Sint-Mariaburg aka Mariaburg) grew around the seat of the insurance company Antverpia founded by Antoon Van den Weyngaert offering all amenities to the new inhabitants leaving Antwerp to pursue a healthier life in a pleasant landscape, whose spirit was embodied in a community song, a march, and a flag! The ward is today divided between Brasschaat and the neighbouring district of Ekeren, part of the municipality of Antwerp.

The article Mariaburg hijst de vlag by Greet Bombeke (Gazet van Antwerpen, 23 September 2008) recounts the relaunch of the Mariaburg flag. The result of a popular contest launched on 4 November 1900 by the Gazet van Mariaburg, the flag was thought up by Henri Van den Weyngaert, son of Antoon Van den Weyngaert. The first prize was 10 BEF, then 5 BEF for the second, third, and fourth prizes. The original flag was inaugurated on 25 December 1900 and is still extant, and a coat of arms was modelled on it.
The flag is made of seven horizontal stripes, white and sky blue, white uppermost; a white canton (three stripes high) bordered green, bearing a yellow "ogival" letter "M", crowned yellow. Blue and white are the Marian colours, and the "M" recalls the local patron saint; green represents hope for the future as well as verdant nature.

Jan Mertens, 7 October 2008