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Meulebeke (Municipality, Province of West Flanders, Belgium)

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

Municipal flag of Meulebeke - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 7 May 2007

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Presentation of Meulebeke

The municipality of Meulebeke (11,983 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,935 ha) is located in south-eastern West Flanders, in the middle of the triangle Roeselare-Tielt-Kortrijk. The municipality of Meulebeke is made of the town of Meulebeke only, and was not modified by the 1976 municipal reform.

Meulebeke was known as Mulenbeca in 1100; the name of the town has to be understood as Molenbeek, "the Mills' River". Together with the neighbouring town of Ingelmunster, Meulebeke was an old domain belonging to the lords of Dendermonde, who were related to the house of Béthune. The title of dominus de Meulebeke (lord of Meulebeke) was created in 1215 for William of Béthune, the son of William and Mathilde of Dendermonde.
The domain of Dendermonde was purchased in 1515 by Filips de Beer; on 13 August 1655, King Philip IV upgraded it to a Barony, as a reward for Nicolas de Beer, who had served for 15 years in the Spanish army. Under Robert-François de Beer (1680-1763), the de Beer family owned not only the Barony of Meulebeke but also domains in Kachtem (Vriese, Uytneminghe, Houderich, Opperammanschap, Halewijnsche, Bosterhout, Ten Ackere and Ayshove), Pittem (Walle), Moorsele (Schaluwen, Emsrode and Ter Helst ) and Gracht, as well as two mills and seven big farms. These successive purchases progressively ruined the family; in 1780, they started to sell their highly mortgaged domains. Robert Marie Alexander of Lens purchased most of them, but his son Philippe of Lens sold them after his father's death.
Castle Ter Borcht was purchased in 1819 by Leonard Anthone Loncke, whose daughter married Leo Victor Thienpont and lived in the castle. Their grand daughter married in 1906 Edgar van Baveghem, a painter and inventor who was Mayor of Meulebeke from 1921 to 1927. He promoted social housing and developed a new building technic based on concrete pieces assembled like cubes. His Impressionist paintings can be seen in the Our Lady of Mercy chapel. In 1952, van Baveghem died as the last lord of the castle of Meulebeke; the castle and its 17-ha domain were bought by the municipality of Meulebeke in 1965. The sports and recreation center Ter Borcht was set up, housing the Vrij Instituut voor Lichamelijke Opvoeding (VILO - Free Institut for Physical Training).
In the XVIIIth century, Meulebeke mostly lived from agriculture and linen production. In the XIXth century, the town was hit by the economical crisis so that half of its inhabitants were considered as poors. The textile industry reemerged after the First World War but was suppressed by the 1930s crisis.

Meulebeke is the birth place of the painter and writer Karel van Mander (1548-1606). He studied in Tielt and Ghent, settled in Rome from 1574 to 1577 and eventually in the Netherlands, first in Haarlem and then in Amsterdam, where he died. His most famous work is Het Schilder-Boeck (The Painters' Book), a biography of ancient (Egyptian, Greek and Roman) and "modern" (Italian, Dutch and German) painters.
The cyclist race Brussels-Meulebeke was ran from 1964 to 1975, with famous winners such as Rick Van Looy (1964, 1965), Eddy Merckx (1966, 1969) and Freddy Maertens (1973, 1974, 1975). Non Belgians were never allowed to win.

Sources: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 7 May 2007

Municipal flag of Meulebeke

The municipal flag of Meulebeke is yellow with a black bear.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 15 May 1985, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 2 September 1985 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

According to the municipal website, the arms of Meulebeke were granted by Royal Decree on 14 October 1938, as In goud een stappende beer van sabel. Het schild getopt met een baronnenmuts van de Oostenrijkse Nederlanden (Or a bear passant sable. The shield topped with a Baron's cap of the Austrian Netherlands).
Stamps of the parish and Barony of Meulebeke from 1780 and 1789 showed a shield with a bear. "Or a bear sable" was the canting coat of arms of the de Beer family.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 7 May 2007