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Deerlijk (Municipality, Province of West Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-11-03 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Deerlijk]

Municipal flag of Deerlijk - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 9 September 2006

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Presentation of Deerlijk

The municipality of Deerlijk (11,372 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 1,682 ha) is located in south-western West Flanders, halfway between Kortrijk and Waregem and closed to Harelbeke. The municipal territory was not touched by the administrative reform of 1976.

The oldest remains of human settlement in Deerlijk date back to the late Paleolithic (7000 BC) but several remains from the Neolithic (3000-2000 BC) have also been found. There was later in the today's centrum of the town a Gallo-Roman settlement (II-IIIrd century); several artifacts have been collected during urbanization works made from 1974 to 1997, such as tiles and pottery. A treasure of 45 coins, found in 1848 in the borough of Belgiek, has been dated from the late Roman - early Merovingian period (IVth century).
Deerlijk was surrounded by two big woods, the thick Medelewoud in the north and the smaller Feretwoud in the south. In the Xth century, Count of Flanders Arnulf de Grote gave to the St. Peter's abbey in Ghent significant parts of his domain, including the Medelewoud. During the next century, the monks transformed the wood into arable lands and built farms, which was the first step towards the organization of a rural community. South of the Medelewoud, the settlement then known as Derlike was built in the late Xth century. This was a small and not really rich domain, but it already had its own church.
The origin of the name of Deerlijk is controversial. The most convincing explanation, given by Gysseling, says that Deerlijk was derived from the name of the Gallo-Roman settlement, Trasiliaco, built on the anthroponym Trasilos (meaning "the vigorous"). The oldest occurrences of the written forms Derlike and Tresleca are dated 1070 and 1111, respectively.
In the XIVth century, Deerlijk was transferred to the Costere family, that owned it until 1628.

The "Three Greats from Deerlijk" are the writers Pieter Jan Renier (1795-1859), Hugo Verriest (1840-1922) and René De Clercq (1877-1932).

Pieter Jan Renier wrote fables and translated in Dutch the famous fables written by Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695). He also wrote some thirty theater plays. He owned a boarding school in Deerlijk, where he was later municipal councillor and school inspector. Ten years after his death, he was built a mausoleum in the church by the famous writer from Antwerp Hendrik Conscience (1812-1883), then arrondissement commissioner in Kortrijk.

Hugo Verriest was ordained priest in 1864 and appointed teacher with the St. Louis College in Bruges. In 1867, he moved to the Catholic secondary school of Roeselare, where he popularized the ideas of his master Guido Gezelle (1830-1899). He became the spiritual leader of the Blawvoeterij, the Catholic Flemish students' movement he founded with Albrecht Rodenbach (1856-1880) in 1876. The blauwvoet is the sea gull and the name of the movement comes from two verses by Rodenbach:

Vliegt de blauwvoet,
storm op zee!

Fly the sea gull
Storm on the sea!

The movement protested against the prominence of the French language in schools and the lack of interest for the Dutch culture.
Verriest was the editor of the students' magazine De Vlaamsche Vlagge (The Flemish Flag, 1877-1880) and of the weekly De Nieuwe Tijd (The New Times, 1896-1901). He was member of the Royal Flemish Academy for Language and Literature and Doctor honoris causa of the University of Leuven. Among his works are Romantic-Impressionist poems, biographies (for instance of Guido Gezelle, Stijn Steuvels and Albrecht Rodenbach), tales and sketches, and several newspapers articles and communications on questions related to art and culture.

René De Clercq was born in the house that is today his museum. He studied in Tielt and Kortrijk and was particularly upset by the prominence of French in teaching. He wrote later that he had to "learn, play, sing, eat and confess in French". He later studied at the (then) French-speaking University of Ghent, in spite of not coming from the Flemish French-speaking upper class. De Clercq graduated in German Philology with a thesis on Guido Gezelle, and was appointed teacher in Nivelles, Ostende and Ghent. In 1903, Hugo Verriest celebrated the marriage of René De Clercq and Marie Delmotte in Ingooigem. Marie died in 1909 and René had to take care of their three children, which was the basis of his poem collection Uit de diepten (From the depth, 1911). He remarried with his sister-in-law Alice and they had three more children. When the Germans invaded Belgium in August 1914, De Clercq exiled with his family in the Netherlands, where he taught in the Belgian school in Amsterdam and edited the newspaper De Vlaamsche Stem (The Flemish Voice) for the Flemish exiled in the Netherlands. He was expelled from the newspaper because of his activism and came back to Belgium in 1917, appointed curator of the Wiertzmuseum in Brussels and leader of the Flemish Council, under German control. Due to these activities, he was sentenced to death in 1920, and exiled again to the Netherlands where he died, aged 55. His remains and mausoleum were brought back to Deerlijk in 1982.
De Clercq's early poems were influenced by Gezelle and dealt with nature, home and craftsmen. His later poems included more social concerns. During the First World War, he wrote his masterpeices; his further works are inspired by biblical and epic references. More than 150 Belgian and Dutch composers have put music on De Clercq's verses, for instance Emiel Hullebroeck (1877-1965), whose music popularized De Clercq's Tineke van Heule.


Ivan Sache, 9 September 2006

Municipal flag of Deerlijk

The municipal flag of Deerlijk is white with a red chevron and ten red billets, three (2 + 1) on the chevron's left, three (1 + 2) on the chevron's right and the remaining four (1 + 2 + 1) below the chevron.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 29 October 1985, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 11 March 1986 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

According to Servais, these arms were granted on 29 July 1937. They are similar to the arms of the Costere family, the oldest known Lords of Deerlijk. The arms are derived from an engraving in a tomb in the local church.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 9 September 2006