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Halen (Municipality, Province of Limburg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-12-02 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Halen]

Municipal flag of Halen - Image by Jarig Bakker, 8 October 2001

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Presentation of Halen and its villages

The municipality of Halen (8,678 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,629 sq. km) is located in the region of Hageland, on the border with Brabant. The municipality of Halen is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Halen (including Loksbergen since 1965) and Zelem.

Halen was mentioned for the first time on 8 April 741, as Halon (from Germanic "halhum", that is "in the curve of a height"), when Count Robert of Hasbania transferred the villa Halon and other goods to the abbey of Sint-Truiden. The abbey made of Halen the capital of a big groups of domains, encompassing Halen, Loksbergen, Linkhout, Schulen Berbroek and Donk. Following a dispute over the abbey between the Count of Loon and the Duke of Brabant, the duke granted franchises and municipal rights to Halen in 1206. Halen therefore belonged to Brabant until the French Revolution. In 1794, the French administration allocated the municipality of Halen to the Department of Lower Maas, later the Province of Limburg, as a "compensation" for the inclusion of Rummen into the Department of the Dijle, later the Province of Brabant.
In the XIVth century, Halen was a wealthy town located on the then navigable Gete, surrounded with walls and minting its own coins. As a border town, it was permanently threatened by plundering and military occupation; accordingly, the once flourishing cloth trade declined after the XVth century; in the XVIth century, Halen was nothing but a small garrison town.
The building of the Hasselt-Diest road (1839), of the railway Diest-Tienen (1878) and of the tramway Halen-Hasselt (1905) connected Halen to the neighbouring towns. At the end of the XIXth century and in the beginning of the XXth century, Halen flourished again, mostly with family workshops.
The village of Rotem has kept the farms of the Mariëndal abbey, founded in 1237 and suppressed after the French Revolution. Built on the Velpe by the nuns in 1646, the Rotem watermill was used until 1961.
The village of Zelk, mentioned for the first time in 1108-1138, as Seleche, probably formed once a single settlement with Zelem, from which it is separated by the Demer. It was never an independent municipality but formed a domain transferred in the XVth century to the Cartusians of Zelem. The sunken lanes of Zelk are said to be the most beautiful in Flanders.

Loksbergen was mentioned for the first time in 1141, as Loxberge, "the hills near the enclosure". The settlement was probably founded by the monks of the abbey of Sint-Truiden in the XIth century. The village was split between the domains of Velpen and Halen. Incorporated to Halen after the French Revolution, Loksbergen became an independent municipality by Royal Decree of 30 March 1866. The poet August Cuppens, born in Beringen, was the priest of Loksbergen from 1899 to 1924. In his poem De slag der Zilveren Helmen (The battle of the Silver Helmets), written on 12 August 1914, he celebrated the victory of the Belgian cavalry over its German counterpart near Halen. This was the only battle of significance involving the cavalry on the western front and the single Belgian (without foreign help) victory during the First World War.

Zelem, mentioned for the first time in 1114, as Salechem, has probably the same etymology as Zelk, that is "a conveniently located settlement". Zelem belonged to the County of Loon, incorporated to the Principality of Liège in 1336, and was ran from the XIIth century to 1472 by the lords of Diest. They were succeeded by the Counts of Nassau; in 1649, Prince of Orange-Nassau transferred Zelem to the famous poet Constantijn Huygens, whose family kept the domain until the French Revolution.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 9 July 2007

Municipal flag of Halen

The municipal flag of Halen is horizontally divided black-white-black-white.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 6 March 1989, confirmed by the Execeutive of Flanders on 6 June 1989 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 November 1989.
The colours of the flag are taken from the dexter field of the municipal arms, which represents Halen and Loksbergen, whereas the four stripes stand for the four main components of the municipality, Halen, Loksbergen, Zelem and Zelk.

The arms of Halen, as shown on the municipal website are "Per pale, argent an half-eagle sable, or two fesses sable a border compony argent and gules".
Servais shows the old arms of Halen as "Argent two lions sable affronted". Zelem was granted arms by a Royal Decree on 20 December 1904, "Argent two fesses sable a canton or two fesses sable a border compony argent and gules". These arms are featured on a municipal seal dated 1434. The field of the shield shows the arms of the lords of Diest (today the municipal arms of Diest), whereas the canton (and therefore the old arms of Halen) shows the arms used by Arnold of Diest in 1313.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 9 July 2007