Last modified: 2008-04-05 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Dilbeek - Image by Filip van Laenen, 26 October 2001
The municipality of Dilbeek (39,585 inhabitants on 1 July 2007, therefore the second biggest municipality in Flemish Brabant after Leuven; 4,118 ha), located in the Pajottenland on the western border of the Region of Brussels-Capitale. The municipality of Dilbeek is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Dilbeek, Groot-Bijgaarden (in French, Grand-Bigard), Itterbeek, Schepdaal, Sint-Martens-Bodegem (Bodeghem-Saint-Martin) and Sint-Ulriks-Kapelle (Chapelle-Saint-Ulric).
Dilbeek was mentioned for the first time in 1075 as Dedelbeccha, a name
probably formed of the Prehistoric hydronym Didilone and the Germanic
word baki, "a brook" (in Dutch, beek). Originally, Dilbeek belonged
to the lords of Aa, from Anderlecht. In the XI-XIIth century, the early domain was split in several smaller domains; in 1172, the free land
of Hongersveld was transferred to the abbey of
Groot-Bijgaarden, whereas the Crainhem family succeeded the Aa. The
domain of Kraainem-Dilbeek had its municipal council with a Mayor.
Another part of Dilbeek was transferred to the Sottegem family in the
XII-XIIIth century. They transferred parts of their domain to the abbey
of Vorst and to the abbey of Dielegem in Jette, that owned in Dilbeek a
domain with a municipal council and a Mayor. The bishop and the chapter
of Cambrai owned several rights in Dilbeek since 1491; Dilbeek was one of the preferred residences of the bishops. A part of the early Aa
domain was transferred to the lords of Gaasbeek; together with Itterbeek
and Sint-Martins-Bodeghem, Dilbeek formed the New (or Lower) Domain of
Gaasbeek, which had a municipal council and a Mayor and was purchased
in 1687 by Louis-Alexander Schockaert to form, together with other
domains, the County of Trimont, granted in 1690 by King of Spain
Charles II. In 1716, the Count of Trimont purchased the domains owned
in Dilbeek by the bishops of Cambrai.
The inhabitants of Dilbeek are nicknamed konijnenfretters (rabbit eaters) because the local inn once served rabbit meat to Emperor Charles, who sentenced the villagers to bear this nickname.
Groot-Bijgaarden was mentioned for the first time in 1110 as Bigardis,
from Germanic bigarda, "an enclosure". Groot ("greater") was added
later to differentiate the village from Klein-Bijgaarden (Smaller
Bijgaarden). In the IXth century, Bijgaard was part of the West
Brabantine possessions of the St. Bavo abbey in Ghent. The Counts of
Leuven formed a free land and the lords of Bijgaarden ("de Bigardis")
emerged in the early XIIth century; the oldest known is Almarik of
Bijgaarden ("Alermicus de Bigardis"), mentioned in 1110-11333. Several
of his successors were named Arnulf. They transferred several goods to
the abbeys of Affligem and Groot-Bijgaarden. Through the marriages of
Florens of Bijgaarden with Catharina Veele and of Catharina of
Bijgaarden with Willem Veel, the domain was transferred in the second
half of the XIVth century to the powerful family Veele, aka Rongman,
from Brussels. Willem II Rongman, lord of Bijgaarden, was Captain of
the Brussels militia in 1422-1424. Jan of Ranst became lord of
Bijgaarden in 1444 after his marriage with Johana Rongman, who
transfered the domain in 1486 to her nephew Willem Estor, amman of
Brussels in 1477. Estor was sentenced in 1547 as heretic and the domain
was sold; in 1741, it became a Marquisate for the Counts of
Königsegg-Erps. The inhabitants of Grote-Bijgaard did not pay customs
tax anywhere in the Duchy of Brabant.
Around 1125, a few nuns founded an oratorium in the woods of Groot-Bijgaarden; the small convent followed St. Benedict's rule and was protected by the abbey of Affligem. Following several donations by the Dukes of Brabant and the local lords, the convent increased and became a priory, autonomous in 1245 and upgraded to an abbey in 1548. During the Iconoclasts' troubles, the nuns escaped to Dendermonde in 1578 and then to Brussels; it took them 20 years to come back to their ruined abbey. The abbey was sold and demolished after the French Revolution.
Itterbeek was mentioned for the first time in 1173 as Jetterbeca, from the Indo-European roots eud, "water" and jatara, "the current". Itterbeek was originally part of the free land of Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, but belonged for most of its history to the lords of Gaasbeek and was eventually part of the County of Trimont (see above).
Schepdaal was mentioned for the first time in 1260 as Scepdale, referring to "a lower place where water could be drawn" (in Dutch, scheppen means "to draw water"). The village was until 1827 a hamlet of Zierbeek (known since 1172 as Sirebeke); in 1172, the lords of Sirebeke owned the domain of Schepdaal, which belonged from 1497 to 1577 to the lords of Gaasbeek. The hamlet of Sint-Gertrudis-Pede is named after the legend reporting that St. Gertrud of Nivelles had there her cart stuck in the mud and had to finish her journey on foot (in Latin, pede).
Sint-Martens-Bodegem was successively known as Bodingaheim (in Frankish, "Bodo's estate"), Bodenghem (1086), Bodeghem (1267), Boedeghem (1411), Buedeghem (1491), Beughem (1761), Beugem, Bodeghem and eventually Bodegem. The village was divided into two domains, the first belonging to the lords of Dongelberg and the second belonging to the lords of Gaasbeek and later to the County of Trimont.
Sint-Ulriks-Kapelle was mentioned for the first time as Capella in 1150 (at least in a XVIIIth-century copy of the original document) and 1184. The village was built in the XIth century around a small chapel depending on the parish of Asse. In the XIIIth century, the place was named Capella Sancti Ulrici (1263) and transferred to the lords of Bijgaarden. In 1500, the lords of Kapelle owned the domain of Ten Broeck, later a hamlet of Sint-Ulriks-Kapelle, which became a Barony in 1650.
Source: Municipal website, texts after Winkler Prins Encyclopedie van Vlaanderen, Brussels: Elsevier, 1957
Ivan Sache, 16 June 2007
The municipal flag of Dilbeek is vertically divided yellow-blue.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag and arms were adopted by the Municipal Council on 19 December 1989, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 17 April 1990 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 December 1992.
The colours of the flag are the main colours of the municipal coat of arms.
The municipal website gives the official description of the flag, as Twee even lange banen van geel en van blauw (Two equal vertical stripes yellow and blue).
The official description of the arms is:
In goud een dwarsbalk van lazuur, vergezeld in het schildhoofd van een adelaar van sabel, gepoot en getongd van keel, doorsneden in goud een schildhoofd geschaakt van tien stukken van zilver en van keel in lazuur, bezaaid met blokjes van goud, een keper van hetzelfde.
Per pale, or a fess azure in chief an eagle sable armed and langued gules, per fess or in chief chequy argent and gules of ten pieces azure billety or a chevron of the same.
The arms include heraldic elements recalling the six former municipalities merged to form Dilbeek:
- the arms of Louis-Alexander Schockaert, Count of Trimont (1633-1708), representing Dilbeek, Itterbeek and Sint-Martens-Bodegem, which formed the County of Trimont;
- the former arms of Groot-Bijgaarden, designed after the municipal seal from 1349 showing the arms of the lords of Bijgaarden, bore for the first (known) time in 1110 by Almericus de Bigardis.
The Gelre Armorial shows "Or a chief chequy argent and gules of ten pieces" for Florent of Bijgaarden (Bigaerden, #844, folio 73v) and "Quarterly I and IV or a chief chequy argent and gules of ten pieces II and III gules a lion argent" for Michel Scalye (H. Mychyel Scaelye, #900, folio 75v).
The Lalaing Armorial shows "Or a chief chequy argent and sable of ten pieces" for Bijgaarden (Bigarde, #9, folio 71v).
According to Servais, the old arms of Dilbeek are "Per pale or a fess azure in chief an eagle sable armed and langued gules", surmonted by a crown and supported by two griffins. They were granted by Royal Decree on 24 June 1921. As said above, they were originally the arms of the Schockaert family, shown on a municipal seal dated 1773.
Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 16 June 2007