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Malle (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-01-13 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Malle]

Municipal flag of Malle - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 1 July 2006

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Presentation of Malle

The municipality of Malle (14,158 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 5,200 ha) is located in northern Kempen, between Antwerp and Turnhout. The municipality of Malle was formed in 1976 by the merging of the two former municipalities of Oostmalle and Westmalle (lit., East- and West Malle); originally named Westmalle, the new municipality was renamed Malle on 30 July 1979.

Malle was most probably a place where the Franks exercized justice, known then as Mallum or Maalberg. The earliest known occurrence of the name dates back to 1194, when the Bishop of Cambrai granted the churches of Malle and Vorsele to the chapter of the Notre-Dame church in Antwerp. Oostmalle, Westmalle and Zoersel formed then a single domain, which depended on the County of Taxandria.
In the first half of the 13th century, the domain was split into Oostmalle, allocated ot the land of Breda, and Westmalle and Zoersel, probably allocated to the Margravate of Antwerp, part of the Duchy of Brabant.
From the 16th century to the French Revolution, Oostmalle belonged to the Renesse family, whereas Westmalle belonged successively to the van der Moelen, Cottereau (1531-1720) and Powis (1738-) families. Westmalle and Zoersel were made separate municipalities in 1839.
On 25 June 1967, a tornado destroyed 135 houses and the village church of Oostmalle.

The Renesse domain (60 ha) is now owned by the municipality of Malle. The original castle, built in the 15th century, was destroyed in 1453 and rebuilt, newer and bigger, by Jan van Renesse. Famous people who stayed in the castle include Emperor Charles V, Prince of Orange Willem de Zwijger (William the Silent) and Governor of the Low Countries Margaretha van Parma. The domain was completely revamped in 1830 by Burgrave Bus de Gisignies. Around 1900, the domain came back to the Renesse family. Duke Maximiliaan de Renesse rebuilt the castle in Flemish neo-Renaissance style.

Westmalle is world-famous for its Trappist abbey, which produces fine beer and cheese. The Notre-Dame of the Sacred-Heart abbey belongs to the Cistercian Order, founded in the 12th century. The Order was nicknamed Trappist Order, as a reference to the abbey of La Trappe in Normandy (France). The Cistercian Order was reformed from La Trappe in the 16th century and is called today the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance.
The Trappist monastery of Westmalle, founded in 1794, was granted the rank of abbey on 22 April 1836. The monks were then allowed to drink during meals the most popular beverage in Flanders, that is beer. Abbot Dom Martin decided to build a small brewery in the abbey; the first locally-produced beer was served on 10 December 1836. Until 1856, the beer produced in Westmalle was used only in the abbey. In 1856, the monks started to sell beer at the abbey's entrance, but there was no organized trade. Due to an increased demand, the brewery was increased in 1865-1897. In 1921, the monks appointed a merchant to sell the beer. The sales were boosted and the brewery was completely revamped in the early 1930s. The abbey did not stop improving its production, which is computer-managed since 1991. The (secrete) recipe of the beer hardly changed over the 170 years of existence of the brewery: the beer is made of pure water, malt, hops, sugar and yeasts.
A genuine Trappist beer is different from an abbey bear. Only seven beers in the world have been allowed to be labelled Trappist: Achel, Chimay, La Trappe, Orval, Rochefort, Westvleteren and Westmalle. The bottle bears the logotype "Authentic Trappist Product". To be a genuine Trappist, a beer must fulfill thr three following requirements:
- The beer must be brewed inside the walls of a Trappist abbey, by Trappist monks or under their direct control.
- The brewery must depend of the monastery and be part of the project of the monastery.
- The brewery shall not make profit. A part of the profits is used for the monks and the abbey whereas the rest is allocated to charities Moreover, communication and advertizing must respect the religious environment in which the beer is produced.
The three beers produced in Westmalle are the Double (Dubble), the Triple (Tripel) and the Extra. The Extra is brewed only twice a year and served only to the monks and their guests for lunch.

The abbey of Westmalle has been producing cheese since 1860. The cheese is made by the monks alone with crude, non-pasteurized milk from the abbey's cows only. Artificial colourings and preservatives are excluded, so that the colour of the cheese depends on the cows' food. The cheese production is very limited and Westmalle cheese can be purchased only at the abbey and at the Café Trappisten pub, located across the street.


Ivan Sache, 29 September 2010

Municipal flag of Malle

The municipal flag of Malle is blue with a white chevron surmounting a white grill.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02a], the flag and arms were adopted by the Municipal Council on 9 November 1981, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 3 December 1984 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986.
Blue is taken from the arms of the former municipalities of Oostmalle and Westmalle. The chevron comes from the first quarter of the arms of Westmalle, whereas the grill comes from the arms of Oostmalle, where it represents St. Lawrence.

According to Servais [svm55a], the arms of Oostmalle were granted on 31 January 1839 as "Azure a St. Lawrence holding a gril argent in dexter".
On 30 April 1839, after the split of the municipality of Westmalle-Zoersel, Westmalle was granted the arms of the former municipality, "Or a lion gules", which were the arms of the Powis family. On 2 May 1914, these arms were changed for the arms of the Cottereau family, "Quarterly, 1 and 4 azure a chevron argent three roosters or, 2 and 3 argent three fesses azure a border gules engrailed.

The current arms of Malle, as shown on the municipal website, are "Quarterly, 1. and 4. Azure a chevron argent cantonned by three roosters standing or, beaked, crested and armed gules, the two upper affronty, 2. and 3. Argent three fesses azure a border gules, an escutcheon Azure a St. Lawrence proper standing on a grassy terrace".
St. Lawrence, as usual, holds a grill, but is represented without the traditional religious cloak.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat, Jarig Bakker & Ivan Sache, 29 September 2010