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Bornem (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2011-11-12 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Bornem]

Municipal flag of Bornem - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 10 June 2007

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Presentation of Bornem and its villages

The municipality of Bornem (20,235 inhabitants on 1 July 2007; 4,576 ha) is located 20 km south-west of Antwerp, on the right bank of the river Scheldt that forms here the border between the provinces of Antwerp and East Flanders. Together with the municipalities of Puurs and Sint-Amands, Bornem forms the region of Klein Brabant (Little Brabant). The municipality of Bornem is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Bornem, Hingene, Mariekerke and Weert.

Bornem, as its name implies, it a village of Frankish origin, appeared as the center of a feudal domain in the 9th century on a strategic site near the confluency of the Scheldt with the Rupel and the Durme. In 910, the domain of Bornem, together with Mechelen, was granted by King Charles the Simple to the church of Liège, which transferred it later to the Count of Flanders. In 1057, Duke Boudewijn V obtained from the Court of Cologne the definitive transfer of Bornem. Originally, the domain included the parish of Bornem and its dependencies Havekesdunc (Nattenhaasdonk) and Hinken (Hingene). In the 10th century, the domain of Dendermonde was split and Mariekerke was incorporated to the domain of Bornem. The earliest known lord of Bornem is Lambrecht, who was also appointed lord of Ghent in 1007. From 1088 onwards, Wenemaar, a Templar Knight, boosted the development of the domain. The chart he signed in 1100 granted municipal rights and allowed the local canons' chapter to upgrade to an abbey. He was succeeded by Knights Seger I and Seger II, who also lived in Bornem and are buried in the Romanesque crypt of the church of Bornem. Remains of Seger II's tombstone have been found in 1978. The domain of Bornem was sold in 1250 by Hugo II to Countess of Flanders Margaretha of Constantinople.
After the destructions caused by the Wars of Religion, Bornem was purchased in 1586 by Pedro Coloma, one of the richest Spanish nobles of that time, who had came to the Low Countries with the army commanded by Alexander Farnese. Coloma is considered as a benefactor of Bornem and its region; he rebuilt the ruined castle of Bornem and planned a new link between the Scheldt and the Old Scheldt via the Sas (lock) built in 1592. The Sas is the oldest hydraulic structure in Flanders. Coloma also improved the irrigation system and reclaimed abandoned arable fields. He died in 1621 and was buried in the Romanesque crypt of the convent located on the Dilftheide (today the Kloosterstraat). Coloma was succeeded by his son Alexander, Farnese's godchild, and his grandson Jan Frans, who was made Count of Bornem by King Philip IV of Spain in 1658. The domain was later transfered to the families Corswarem, de Marbais and de Lannoy. In 1780, Aldegonde de Lannoy married Baudry de Marnix and Bornem was transfered to the Marnix family.
After the French Revolution, Karel de Marnix, eight Count of Bornem, fled to the Netherlands with his mother. The castle and the domain of Bornem were confiscated and sold in 1799 in Antwerp. Karel de Marnix purchased a part of the domain, came back to the castle in 1802 and was Mayor of Bornem until his death in 1832. Until 1904, the Marnix were Mayors of Bornem for 86 years, in three periods separated by a total of 12 years. On 24 April 1881, the Marnix family was allowed to add "de Sainte Aldegonde" to its name, in order to emphasize its link with the famous Philippe de Marnix, lord of Sainte-Aldegonde (today part of the municipality of Morlanwelz). The castle was rebuilt around 1890 in neo-gothic style by the architect Hendrik Beyaert (1822-1894). John de Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde is currently the 14th Count of Bornem.

Hingene, as said above, was mentioned in 1100 as Hinken, together with Hevekesdunc (Nattenhaasdonk), as early possessions of the domain of Bornem. Hevekesdunc was then more important than Hinken, but was so often damaged by floodings that its inhabitants preferred to move on to higher places. In 1825, a huge flood caused the end of Havekesdunc; a better place was selected in Wintam, a fishers' hamlet located on the Rupel, to rebuild the church. A document from 1674 says that Hingene was a "subsidiary" of Natteenhaasdonk, but the inhabitants of Hingen never trusted it.

Mariekerke, a fishers' village, was granted in 1228 rights by Count of Bornem Hugo II. The village was then bigger than today and spread along the Scheldt between Branst and Weert. The village church was burnt in 1914 for strategic purpose and rebuilt in 1925. Mariekerke is the birth village of Jan Hammenecker (1878-1932). Appointed priest in Westrode, Hammenecker wrote several poems and a few saint's lifes.

Weert, known in 1242 as Werde, was in 1100 listed as a hamlet of Moerzeke, located on a paeninsula between the Durme and the Scheldt; until 1241, it belonged to the lords of Coudenborch, from Temse. The village was later sold to the St. Bavo abbey in Ghent, that kept it until the French Revolution.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 27 May 2007

Municipal flag of Bornem

The municipal flag of Bornem is vertically divided blue-white-blue (3:5:3) with a blue tower in the white stripe.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 21 April 1981, confirmed by Royal Decree on 30 November 1981 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 13 January 1982.
The colours are the main colours of the municipal arms, red excluded, whereas the tower is shown on the first quarter of the arms, which is the old coat of arms of Bornem (with a change in the field colour).

Servais [svm55a] shows the old arms of Bornem, granted by Royal Decree on 27 February 1940, as "Or a fess gules a tower azure overall". These arms appear on images from the 17th century and a municipal seal from the early 18th century. The red fess is of unclear origin, maybe taken from a medieval local banner or from the arms of the Counts of Béthune.
Van evers en heiligen: Wapens en vlaggen van gemeenten in de provincie Antwerpen [pbd98] shows the new arms of Bornem as "Quarterly I. argent a fess gules a tower azure overall; II. azure a fish argent per pale flanked by two fleurs-de-lis or; III. azure a lion argent three pales gules; IV. gules a chief argent three merlettes of the first". The first quarter shows the old arms of Bornem, whose field colour was changed to match the fourth quarter, which shows the old arms of Hingene. The second quarter shows the old arms of Mariekerke, and the third quarter shows the lion of Weert. J. Melkenbeeck (Heraldiek der gemeenten van Klein-Brabant) says that the arms of Marierkerke were granted by Royal Decree on 25 May 1956, as was the municipal seal on 21 September 1937, after an historical seal dated 1543.

Pascal Vagnat, Jan Mertens & Ivan Sache, 27 May 2007