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Laakdal (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-01-19 by ivan sache
Keywords: laakdal | cross (black and red) | berthout | diest |
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[Flag of Laakdal]

Municipal flag of Laakdal - Image by Ivan Sache, 12 August 2007

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Presentation of Laakdal and its villages

The municipality of Laakdal (14,998 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 4,248 ha) is located in Kempen, on the south-eastern border of the Province of Antwerp. The municipality of Laakdal was formed in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Eindhout, Veerle (including Varendonk since 1971) and Vorst. The new municipality was named after the valley (dal) of the river Laak, which is formed by the merging of the Grote Laak, Kleine Laak and Rode Laak.

Eindhout is locally known as Tut. God and St. Peter once visited Kempen on a cart to name the places. Wherever they gave a name, St. Peter sticked a roadsign with the place name. They reached a place with a hill covered with a wood. At the end of the wood (in Dutch, einde van het houd), a blank roadsign fell down from the cart. St. Peter wanted to pick it up but God did not stop the cart since they still had a long journey to do. He told St. Peter tuttuttut, laat dat maar liggen! (forget it!), which explains why Eindhout is nicknamed Tut.
In the XIIth century, Eindhout belonged to the domain of Geel, managed by the powerful Berthout family on behalf of the Duke of Brabant. In 1252, Hendrik Berthout transferred the church rights of Eindhout to the abbey of Averbode.

Veerle was transferred by its Carolingian lords to the St. Nicaise abbey in Reims. At th end of the XIIth century, the abbey transferred most of its rights in the village to the chapter, later priory of Bierbeek, which itself transferred them in the XIIIth century to the abbeys of Averbode and Tongerlo. Like the other villages, all located on the crossroads of the trade roads beetwen Diest, Geel and Turnhout, Veerle developed in the Middle Ages a significant cloth trade, symbolized by a market hall. Later, the main activity was agriculture, with once even a small wine production.

Vorst was transferred by Count of Flanders Louis of Male to the abbey of Nivelles in 877; the parish church was dedicated to St. Gertrud, the first Abbess of Nivelles. After the XIth century, the Counts of Leuven, later Dukes of Brabant, increased their "protection" over the abbeys and incorporated several of their goods to their own domain, which was the case in Vorst. In the XIIIth century, the Duke of Brabant owned half of Vorst, the part of the village known today as Vorst-Center. The other half, Klein-Vorst (Small Vorst) remained the property of the abbey of Nivelles, which appointed the family of Tergalen as manager of the domain. In the XIIIth century, the lords of Geel merged Eindhout and Vorst into a single domain. In 1398, Vorst, together with Meerhout and Zichem, formed a single domain granted to the lords of Diest, vassals of the Prince of Nassau. In 1660, Vorst and Meerhout formed a single domain with a common prison housed in the old feudal fortress.


Ivan Sache, 12 August 2007

Municipal flag of Laakdal

The municipal flag of Laakdal is horizontally divided yellow-black-yellow (2:1:2) with a vertical red stripe in the middle. The black and red stripes have the same width.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted on 5 October 1981, confirmed by Royal Decree on 2 February 1982 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 21 April 1982 and, again, on 4 January 1995.
The flag combines elements of the arms of the Berthout ("Or a pale gules") and Diest ("Or a fess sable").

The Berthout and Diest arms are indeed used in the municipal arms of Laakdal, which can be considered as the source of the flag, and are described in detail on the Veerle-Heide website.
The arms of Lakdaal are "Per pale, or three pales gules a canton argent five ermine spots per saltire, or two fesses sable". The dexter part of the arms represents the arms of Wouter Berthout, lord of Mechelen and Geel, also used as the municipal arms and flag of Geel (with nine ermine spots in canton).
The sinister part of the arms represents the arms of the lords of Diest.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 12 August 2007