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Arendonk (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2010-09-25 by ivan sache
Keywords: arendonk | eagle (yellow) | jubilee flag | letter: a (white) |
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[Flag of Arendonk]

Municipal flag of Arendonk - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 29 July 2006

See also:

Presentation of Arendonk

The municipality of Arendonk (12,329 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 5,538 ha) is located in the region of Kempen, 10 km east of Turnhout and close to the border with the Netherlands.

Until the French Revolution, Arendonk, located in the middle of Brabant (and so until the independence of Belgium and the split of historical Brabant between Belgium and the Netherlands) was mostly known for its falconers. Falconry, aka hawking, that is hunting with trained birds of prey, was a noble art highly prized in the Low Countries, especially during the Burgundian and Spanish rules. The skillful falconers from Arendonk were hired by all the European courts.
In the 19th century, Arendonk became a small industrialized town, with the developemnt of cloth factories and the digging of the canal Dessel-Turnhout-Schoten in 1845. In 1876, the Dutch Henri Van der Pas founded in Arendonk a cigare workshop with five workers. Ten years later, Arendonk was known as the Belgian cigare's village and 80 workers produced 90,000 cigares per week. The brothers Goppel opened their factory in Arendonk in 1877; in 1886, their 45 workers produced 2,000,000 cigares per year. New workshops opened from time to time whereas home-working increased. Before the Second Word War, half of the cigare workers in Arendonk were home workers. Cigare industry also developed on the Dutch side of the border and attracted several workers, since the Dutch guilder was a stronger currency.
Arendonk has preserved a very specific dialect, said to be not understandable by the inhabitants of the neighborhood. Priest and painter Remi Lens (d. 1983) was a tireless scholar and champion of the Arendonk dialect.

Arendonk claims to be the birth place of the Primitive Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck (1385/90-1441). As usual with those artists, very little is known on their biography, especially on their early life (the exact identity of some of them, known as "The Master of..." is even unknown), and several towns claim to be their birth place.
In 1959, the former Mayor and hobbyist local historian Jan Goris, doing research on the Arendonk falconers, found an old document mentioning Heine Van Eyck, falconer at the court of Duke of Burgundy Philip the Handosme and Cousine van den Malnaere, "cousin of the painter". Goris claimed that this was a strong evidence for Arendonk being the birth place of Jan Van Eyck.
It is more generally admitted, however, that the painter was born in Maaseik, because of his patronym and a settlement he did to a local convent. In 2005, the ruins of the St. Agnes convent in Maaseik were excavated and a wax medallion portraying Pope Eugen IV was founded. Other sources say that this medallion was offerred to Jan Van Eyck by Cardinal Niccolo Albertagi in 1435 as a reward for his portrait made by the painter. Van Eyck's daughter, Lievine, inherited the medallion after her father's death and brought it with her when she entered the convent in 1441. Historians from Maaseik claim that the medallion is a strong evidence for Maaseik being the birth place of Jan Van Eyck.

Arendonk is without the least doubt the birth town of the cyclist Rik (Hendrik) Van Steenbergen (1924-2003). Rik started his professional career in 1943, winning that year the Flanders Championship in Koolskamp. Among his famous victories are the Tour of Flanders (1944 and 1946), Paris-Roubaix (1948 and 1952, defeating that time Fausto Coppi), the Flèche Wallonne (1949, defeating against Coppi, who claimed that Rik had been "brought back" in the wake of the cars, and 1958), Paris-Brussels (1950) and Milan-San Remo (1954).
Rik Van Steenbergen took part to eleven World Championships and won three of them, in 1949 (Copenhagen), 1956 (Ballerup) and 1957 (Waregem). He was less successful in the great Tours because he did not like mountains; however, he wore the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France for 10 days in 1952; he wore the Pink Jersey in the Giro d'Italia eight times, won 15 stages and finished second in 1951, only 1'46" behind Fiorenzo Magni; he took part once to the Vuelta, wearing the Amarillo Jersey for a while and finishing 5th and winner of the points classification.
Rik Van Steenbergen was also a brilliant track racer, with 715 wins. He won 40 out of the 134 Six-Days races he ran, in team with famous cyclists such as Bruneel, Post, De Bruyne and Bahamontes, and also with his son-in-law Palle Lykke. He ran his last race on 10 december 1966 in the Sportpaleis of Brussels.


Ivan Sache, 29 July 2006

Municipal flag of Arendonk

The municipal flag of Arendonk is blue with a yellow eagle spreading its wings all over the flag.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag and arms were adopted by the Municipal Council on 10 October 1988, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 13 December 1988 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 November 1989.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.
According to Servais [svm55a], similar arms (but with a different representation of the eagle) were granted to the town by Royal Decree on 31 December 1938.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 29 June 2006

Arendonk 2012 jubilee flag

[Arendonk jubilee flag]

Arendonk 2012 jubilee flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 4 April 2010

Arendonk's 800th anniversary shall be celebrated in 2012.
The event's logo features a yellow diamond or skewed square containing (most of) a white upright initial "A"; the diamond is accompanied by the name "ARENDONK" in blue, at left, and the figure "800", also in blue, at right, the "8" placed in front of the diamond and fimbriated white.
The logo has already appeared on flags, as shown on a photo by Eddy Meulemans, Het Nieuwsblad, 21 March 2008. The caption of the photo says:

Only when it was almost dark last night I managed to shoot an acceptable photo more or less showing the new logo. Either I pressed the button too soon, or too late, or the wind stopped blowing. Damned! a flag is a model that cooperates very unwillingly.

Jan Mertens, 29 March 2010