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Brecht (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2011-12-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: brecht | lalaing |
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[Flag of Brecht]

Municipal flag of Brecht - Image by Jarig Bakker, 25 September 2001

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Presentation of Brecht

The municipality of Brecht (26,791 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 9,084 ha, therefore one of the biggest municipality in the Province of Antwerp) is located in Kempen, at mid-distance (25 km) of Antwerp, Turnhout and Breda (The Netherlands). The municipality of Brecht is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Brecht (12,737 inh.; 5,690 ha), Sint-Job-in-'t-Goor (7,801 inh.; 713 ha) and Sint-Lennarts (6,253 inh.; 2,681 ha; part of Brecht until 1846). The hamlet of Sint-Anthonius, once part of Brecht, was allocated to Zoersel in 1976.

The three components of the municipality of Brecht are linked by the old Turnhout-Schoten canal, today used only by leisure boats. There is between Brecht and Schoten a 20-m fall, which required the building of ten clots still hand-powered.
The golden age of Brecht was the XVIth century. The town had a Chamber of Rhetorics and a Latin school, founded by Johannes Custos. Among the humanists born in Brecht at that time are the jurist Gabriël Mudaeus Brechtanus (1500-1560), the Jesuit moralist Leonardus Lessius (1554-1623) and the poet Jan van der Noot (1539?-1595).
The windmill Stenen Molen, aka Bounke-Bounke (recalling it was once housing a pub), built in 1842 by Joannes Spruyt-Anthonissen, is a kettingkruier, lit. "chain bearer", because it has a chain wheel under the roof. Only three mills of that kind have been preserved in Flanders, the Brecht mill being the last one in the Province of Antwerp.

Source: Municipal website

The Cistercian abbey Our Lady of Nazareth in Lier hosted the mystic Blessed Beatrijs van Nazareth (1220-1268, who lived there from 1236 to her death. Her only known written work is the oldest prosa book in Dutch language, the mystic treaty Von seuen manieren van heileger Minnen (Of the seven ways of the saint love [between God and men]). The abbey was often sacked and eventually closed by the French rulers in 1797; all the buildings were destroyed but the entrance gate. In the first half of the XXth century, Cistercian abbots led by Dom Robertus Eyckmans, former Abbot of Westmalle, decided to refound the abbey of Nazareth. On 12 October 1945, the Cistercian abbey Our Lady of Nazareth was officially founded in Brecht. In 1946, Trappist monks from Westmalle started the building of the new abbey in the Brecht moor. On 25 June 1950, thirteen nuns from the abbey of Soleilmont (an old abbey located near Charleroi, burnt in 1963 and rebuilt nearby in 1973) settled in the abbey of Brecht. The abbey has two daugther foundations, the Redwoods abbey, founded in 1962 in California, and the Our-Lady of Klaarland priory in Bocholt, founded on 20 August 1975. Following St. Benedict's rule, the nuns of Brecht work; one of their main source of income is the design of flags and banners.

Source: Nazareth abbey website

Ivan Sache, 28 May 2007

Municipal flag of Brecht

The municipal flag of Brecht is vertically divided blue-yellow-blue.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag was adopted on 13 December 1990, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 1 October 1991 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 4 January 1995.
The colours are taken from the municipal arms and the three stripes recall the three former municipalities.

According to the municipal website, the arms of Brecht were granted by Royal Decree on 18 December 1841, as:
Van lazuur met Sint-Michiel van goud, links vergezeld van een gouden wapenschild beladen met tien ruiten van lazuur, 3., 3.,3., en 1. (Azure a St. Michel or accosted sinister by a shield or ten lozenges azure placed 3,3,3 and 1).
Van evers en heiligen: Wapens en vlaggen van gemeenten in de provincie Antwerpen [pbd98] adds that the shield besides St. Michael shows the arms of Lalaing, Counts of Hoogstraten and lords of Brecht, 1620-1793.
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'Ecaussines with Simon de Lalaing, Grand Bailiff of Hainaut and Seneschal of Ostrevent, in 1357, and from 1529 to 1624. Lallaing (modern spelling) is today a village located near Douai, in the north of France.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 28 May 2007