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Peer (Municipality, Province of Limburg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Peer]

Municipal flag of Peer - Image by Ivan Sache, 12 October 2001

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Presentation of Peer

The municipality of Peer (15,943 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 8,695 inhabitants) is located in Kempen. The municipality of Peer is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Peer, Grote-Brogel, Kleine-Brogel and Wijchmaal.

Peer has nothing to do with pears (in Dutch, peer), in spite of the golden pear surmonting the old waterpomp located on the market square and the pear-shaped silhouette of the old town hall and church tower. In Middle Dutch, a perre or parre is an enclosed settlement located in an unsafe region; another possible etymology for the name of the town is the Latin word pirgus, "a paved road".
There are five Prehistoric funerary tumulus in Peer, but the village emerged more recently, in the Vth-VIth century, as a rural settlement built near the river Dommel, around a typical, triangular Frankish "square". Around year 1000, Peer belonged to the abbey of Sint-Truiden, which built the St. Truiden church, still known as the Giant of Kempen because of its huge tower watching flat Kempen. In 1367, Prince Bishop of Liège Evrard van der Marck granted the title of "Good Town" to Peer, indeed one of the ten Good Towns of the old County of Loon. The growth of the town required the building of walls and of the old town hall, the oldest in Limburg. On 13 May 1483, a civil war claimed the life of hundreds, maybe 1,500, inhabitants of Peer.
In 1623, Emperor Ferdinand II made of Peer a County. The development of the town stopped in the XVIIIth century because of war and plundering. Most of the town walls were suppressed around 1800. The population of the town dramatically increased in the beginning of the XXth century when coal mining started in Limburg. Peer was granted the honorific title of Town (Stad) by Royal Decree on 19 July 1985.

Grote-Brogel was mentioned for the first time in 1222, as Brogele, meaning "a wet, marshy place". Together with Erpekom, Grote-Brogel was transferred by the Count of Loon to the lords of Born and Elslo. In the XVIth century, Grote-Brogel was owned by the Count of Horne, who lived in Weert. The village was then called Groote Brueghel.
A local tradition, supported by some historical facts but not convincing all art historians, claims that the famous Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel de Oude (the Elder, c. 1525-1569) was born in Brogel. This theory is, of course, very popular in Peer, self-styled Bruegelstad, Bruegel's Town.
The only mention of the painter's birth village is by Karel Van Mander, who wrote in 1603 in Het leven van Pieter Brueghel, uitstekende schilder van Brueghel (The life of Pieter Bruegel, a famous painter from Brueghel) that Bruegel "was born in Brabant in a obscure farmers' village, named Brueghel and located not far from Breda". There are two possible locations for Brueghel, either Brogel near Peer or Breughel near Eindhoven. The latter village is located some 60 km from Breda, which is not likely to have been considered as "not far" in the XVIIth century. Moreover, Brogel is located 8 km from Bree, which was often written at that time Brede or Breda. There is a problem with Brabant, since Brogel was never part of the Duchy of Brabant; local historians claim that the region of Bree was once called Brabant, though.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 20 September 2007

Municipal flag of Peer

The flag of Peer is vertically divided, left, ten horizontal stripes in turn yellow and red, right, five vertical stripes yellow-red-yellow-red-yellow.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 8 July 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.

The arms of Peer follows a pattern common in Limburg, that is "per pale Loon and a chage specific to the town" (see for instance Hamont-Achel and Bree).

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 20 September 2007