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Oostkamp (Municipality, Province of West Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2013-12-11 by ivan sache
Keywords: oostkamp | merlettes: 6 (white) | ursel |
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[Flag of Oostkamp]

Flag of Oostkamp - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 9 September 2007

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Presentation of Oostkamp

The municipality of Oostkamp (21,948 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 7,965 ha) is located south of Bruges. The municipality of Oostkamp is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Oostkamp (12,683 inh.; 3,419 ha), Hertsberge (1,675 inh.; 1,116 ha), Ruddervoorde (5,435 inh.; 2,686 ha) and Waardamme (1,602 inh.; 743 ha).

Ivan Sache, 9 September 2007

Flag of Oostkamp

The flag of Oostkamp is red with a a white diagonal, three white merlettes above it and another three below it.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02a], the flag is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 6 December 1984 by the Municipal Council, confirmed on 3 June 1985 by the Executive of Flanders and published on 8 July 1986 in the Belgian official gazette.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

According to Servais [svm55a], the arms of Oostkamp were granted on 29 April 1845 by a (Belgian) Royal Decree, superseding the (Dutch) Royal Decree that had granted on 10 Novmeber 1819 "Or a chevron sable cantonned with three trees eradicated proper", arms of unknown origin. Used for the first time in the early 16th century, these arms were erroneously considered as the arms of the lords of Gruuthuse, then lords of Oostkamp. They were again shown on roll of arms dated 1560 and 1562 and shown on the municipal seal in 1694.

The website of the local history circle Heemkundige Kring Oostkamp explains that the castle of Oostkamp, mentioned for the first time in 1128, was sold in 1454 by Jan Wittoen, lord of Oostkamp, to Louis of Bruges, lord of Gruuthuse. Those lords had the monopoly on the gruut, an herbal mix used of brewing; a main component of gruut, the sweet gale, was quite common in the "deserts" surrounding Oostkamp. Via Catharina of Bruges and Conrad Schetz, the castle of Oostkamp/Gruuthuse was transfered to the Ursel family in 1616, who still owns it.
The Ursel family website gives a short account of the lineage history:

The d'Ursel family descends from the Schetz. Originating from Smalkalde (Hesse), the latest established in Hasselt and Maastricht in the 15th century, and in Antwerp at the beginning of the 16th century. Real founder of the House, Erasmus Schetz (around 1480-1550), quickly acquired a dominating influence among the most important merchants of Antwerp. He was well known for the dealing of metals, in particular at the Calamine mines, and sugar imported from Brasil and cropped on the lands he had acquired since 1540. The remains of the factory he founded are now considered as an archaelogical site of increasing interest. He was ennobled by the court in 1527 and bought in 1545 the Grobbendonk seigniory.
His eldest son, Gaspar Schetz (1513-1580) was not only a powerful merchant but also King officer. In 1560, he gained the important position of general treasurer of the Netherlands. He also played a main political role which he wrote down. Heir to the Grobbendonk seigniory, he bought many lands, among which Wezemaal, Heyst and Hingene. His second wife, Catherine van Ursel (d. 1605), one of the daughters of the famous burgomaster of Antwerp Lancelot van Ursel, gave him two sons who made successsful careers.
The youngest son, Antoine Schetz (1560-1640), made a brilliant military career. Governor of Bois-le-Duc, he defended this catholic bastion until 1629, thrown out then by Prince Frédéric-Henri. Some years later, in 1635, he took his revenge, defending victoriously Leuven when assaulted by the Franco-Batave army. In 1602, the king set his Grobbendonk land up as a Barony, and in 1637 as a County. His descendants died out in 1726, handing down all his fortune to the eldest branch of the family.
This branch is descended from Conrard Schetz (1553-1632), Lord of Hingene, who in 1600 got the title of baron of Hoboken. Conrard Schetz was councillor, treasury assistant and even ambassador of the archdukes in London for a while. Adopted by one of his mother's sisters, he received in 1617 the family name d'Ursel. He was married to Françoise, the eldest daughter of the Private Council's president, Jean Richardot. His son Conrard d'Ursel (1592-1659) was promoted to the dignity of Count of the Holy Empire in 1638 and his great-grandson Conrard-Albert (1665-1738) to that of Duke of Hoboken in 1717.
The first Duke of Hoboken, better known under the name of Duke d'Ursel, ended off his long military career as governor of the County of Namur. He married in 1713 Princess Eléonore of Salm, daughter of a Bavarian family related to most European courts. He inherited the fortune from the youngest Grobbendonk family branch complying with the written wishes that the old count of Grobbendonk had addressed to him several years before: "United, our fortunes will make our family one of the most powerful of the country".
His son Charles, second Duke d'Ursel (1717-1775), lieutenant field marshal in the service of Maria-Theresia, military governor of Brussels, Knight of the Golden Fleece, married Princess Eléonore of Lobkowicz. One of his daughters, Henriette d'Ursel, married the famous marshal Ferraris who designed the map that still carries his name.
His son Wolfgang-William, third Duke d'Ursel (1750-1804), general officer and husband of Princess Flore d'Arenberg, played a short but main role in the end-of-the-century disturbances well-known under the name of Revolution of Brabant. The French Revolution and the continuous debt contracted by his House all along the 18th century, seriously undermined the fortune he left to his son Charles-Joseph, fourth Duke d'Ursel (1777-1860).
This duke was described as a man "of pleasant company (...), witty and moderate in his opinions, what led him to earn the highest esteem from people". He became burgomaster of Brussels under Napoléon, minister and Grand Master of the Queen's House under King William, and last but not least senator of the new recently created Kingdom of Belgium. His wife Louise-Victoire-Marie-Josèphe-Françoise Ferrero-Fieschi, Princess of Masserano, gave him three sons from whom all the currently living d'Ursel are descended.

The arms of Ursel are "Gules a canton argent charged with three merlettes of the first. The shield supported by two griffins or, the whole surrounded by a mantle gules with ermines and topped by a Ducal coronet of the Holy Roman Empire". The three merlettes on the flag of Oostkamp therefore would be linked to the Ursel family rather than to the early lords of Gruuthuse. However, their reported use in Oostkamp predates the arrival of the Ursel family there!

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 9 September 2007