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Kortenberg (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2011-05-14 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Kortenberg]

Municipal flag of Kortenberg - Image by Ivan Sache, 29 October 2001

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Presentation of Kortenberg and its villages

The municipality of Kortenberg (18,424 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,452 ha) is located 15 km west of Brussels. The municipality of Kortenberg is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Kortenberg, Erps-Kwerps, Everberg and Meerbeek.

Kortenberg was mentioned for the first time in 1095, when the Bishop of Cambrai allowed Duke of Brabant Godfried I to build a Benedictine nuns' abbey on the Curtenbergh hill. As usual at the time, there was nearby an hermitage settled by a few nuns led by Colomba. Around 1222, the abbey moved downhill to the Minneveld, where, after several destructions and rebuildings, it still stands.

On 27 September 1312, the Kortenberg chart, considered as the first Constitution of Brabant, was granted in the abbey by Duke of Brabant John II.
The modern rendition of the Chart of Kortenberg is:

We duke John II of Brabant, agree
1: That no other demands or taxes be levied than those which are known as the three feudal cases:
- at the knighthood of my son;
- the wedding of my daughter;
- and if I should be taken captive
The taxes will be reasonable [fiscal prerogative].
2: An honourable jurisdiction for rich and poor. [judicial prerogative].
3: To recognise the freedom of our good towns. [municipal prerogative].
4: To establish a council which shall be comprised of:
- 4 knights or nobles;
- 10 representatives from the 5 cities as follows:
- 3 from Leuven;
- 3 from Brussels;
- 1 from Antwerp;
- 1 from 's-Hertogenbosch [now Netherlands];
- 1 from Tienen;
- 1 from Zoutleeuw
5: This council be allowed to meet at Kortenberg in the Abbey. It will meet every 3 weeks to check whether the financial, judicial and municipal prerogatives are observed.
6: That in the future improvements are introduced to the administration of the land by the council.
7: That upon the death of members of the Council of Kortenberg, new members be designated.
8: That the members of the Council take an oath on the Holy Gospel that they will pursue the best interests of the public.
9: That the people have the right to resist should the Duke or his descendants refuse to observe the Charter of Kortenberg.

The members of the Council of Cortenbergh prescribed in the chart were known as "Gentlemen of Cortenbergh". In 1332, two more Gentleman were added, one representing Nivelles and a second representative from Antwerp. The Council met until 1375.

Erps-Kwerps is made of the two villages of Erps, in the Middle Ages an important administrative and trade center on the Cologne-Bruges road, and Kwerps, a smaller village once the domain of Quarebbe. The remains of a Roman villa were found there in 1987; in the 7th century, the site of the villa was reused to set up a Merovingian cemetary, the first of the kind found in Brabant.

Everberg had in the 14th century a castle protected by water. The last heir of the castle married Knight Godevaart of Montenaken, Mayor of Tienen; revamped, the castle was known as the Manor of Montenaken. It was later transferred to the family of Rubempré, appointed in 1581 hereditary Grand Venerer of Brabant and made in 1686 Prince of Rubempré and Everberg. Around 1700, the castle was transferred to the family of Merode, which played a significant part in the development of the village.

Meerbeek is the smallest and most rural component of the municipality of Kortenberg. It has kept the oldest of the five village's churches, whose western tower dates from the late 13th century and which is still surrounded by a cemetary.


Ivan Sache, 9 August 2007

Municipal flag of Kortenberg

The municipal flag of Kortenberg is horizontally divided red-white-blue-yellow-green.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 6 October 1980, confirmed by Royal Decree on 2 February 1981 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 11 March 1981.
The colours of the flag are taken from the municipal arms.

The official description of the flag of Kortenberg is Vijf even hoge banen van rood, van wit, van blauw, van geel en van groen. There were no flag used in the former municipalities.

The official description of the arms of Kortenberg is:
Gevierendeeld 1. in goud een eik van natuurlijke kleur op een grasgrond waartegen rechts een vos van natuurlijke kleur 2. in zilver drie lelies met afgesneden voet van keel 3. in zilver drie staande lelies van keel 4. in goud drie molenijzers van lazuur. Het schild geplaatst voor een hertog Jan II van Brabant, houdend in de rechterhand het bezegeld charter van Kortenberg, het geheel van goud.
(Quarterly 1. Or an oak proper planted accosted dexter by a fox proper 2. Argent three fleurs-de-lis couped gules 3. Argent three fleurs-de-lis ? couped gules 4. Or three fers de moline azure. The shield hold by a Duke of Brabant John II holding in dexter the sealed Charter of Kortenberg, all or).
These arms are indeed quarterly Kortenberg ancient, Everberg, Meerbeek and Erps-Kwerps.

Kortenberg was granted by Royal Decree of 16 March 1914 In goud een geplante groene eikenboom met rode stam tegen dewelke rechts een eekhoorntje van hetzelfde klimt ("Or an oak planted vert with the trunk gules accosted by a small squirrel of the same").
The abbey of Kortenberg bore as its arms a small red squirrel climbing the red trunk of a green oak standing on a small (korte) or steep hill (berg), the Curtenberg. In the Ancient Regime, the magistrates of Kortenberg used the arms of the abbey as their seal.
The modern heraldists who designed the today's arms of Kortenberg changed some details of the old arms: the oak was designed proper, that is with a brown trunk and the red squirrel was replaced by a brown fox; the heraldists claimed that a squirrel would have been shown sitting and not climbing the tree, and would not have had such big ears and such a tail.

Everberg was granted by Royal Decree of 7 September 1908, published in the Belgian official gazette on 20 September 1908, In zilver drie rode leliën met afgesneden voet. Het schild overtopt met een stappend everzwijn in natuurlijke kleur ("Argent three fleurs-de-lis couped gules; the shield topped by a boar [in Dutch, ever] passant proper"). The shield is made of the arms of the lords of Rotselaar.

Meerbeek did not have arms. In the Middle Ages, the village belonged to the lords of Rotselaar, who allowed the magistrates to use their arms as the municipal seal (1416). Here again the modern heraldists introduced a small variation, to distinguish Meerbeek from Everberg, which, historically, should have the same arms: they added a triangular feet to the fleurs-de-lis of Meerbeek, as shown on a municipal seal from 1361.

Erps-Kwerps was granted by Royal Decree of 3 May 1924, published in the Belgian official gazette on 16 May 1924, In goud drie molenijzers 2 en 1 geplaatst ("Or three fers de moline azure placed 2 and 1"). These were the arms of the family of Boisschot; Ferdinand of Boischoot was Count of Erps and Quarebbe in 1644.

Source: Het gemeentewapenschild en de gemeentevlag van Kortenberg, by Dr. Henri Vannoppen

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 9 August 2007