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Destelbergen (Municipality, Province of East Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-01-27 by ivan sache
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Flag of Destelbergen - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 12 November 2005

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Presentation of Destelbergen

The municipality of Destelbergen (17,239 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,660 ha; municipal website) is located in the heart of the province of East Flanders, a few kilometers east of Ghent. The municipality of Destelbergen was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Destelbergen and Heusden. Destelbergen is a residential area, formerly enjoyed by the nobles and burghers from Ghent who own there manors with parks.

Some episodes of the medieval legend of Reinaert de Vos take place in Destelbergen. Reinaert is a main character of the Flemish medieval tradition. The oldest known written trace of the legend is Vanden vos Reinaerde (About Reinaert the Fox), written in 1272-1279 by Willem, probably a clerk from the region of Ghent. The 3,469-verse text describes the trial of nasty Reinaert at the court of king Nobel. Heinric van Alcmaer republished Willem's legend with his own additions, as Reinaert II, in Gouda in 1487. This version of the legend was translated into Middle Low German, as Reynke de Vos, and published in Lübeck in 1498. It was the main source of Goethe's Reineke Fuchs (1793). The French version of the legend, known as Roman de Renard, seems to have been inspired by another "branch" of the legend, Ysengrimus, written by Nivaard van Ghent in 1152. The tale was so popular that the name of Renart, later Renard, replaced the word goupil then used to designate a fox in French .
The legend is recalled in the Reinaert's park of Destelbergen by the statue "Reinaert and Bruin", Bruin being a bear (Bruin de Beer).

The site of Destelbergen was already inhabited in the Mesolithic (10000-5000 BC). The name of the town is also very ancient: it was early known as Thesel, referring to sandy hills, then partially levelled, located in the middle of the village. The suffix -bergen (mountains) has clearly the same origin.
In 962, Wichman, Count of Hamaland, ceded Destelbergen to the Saint-Peter abbey in Ghent, which kept it until the French Revolution. Being close to Ghent caused a lot of troubles to Destelbergen in wartime: the town was sacked three times in 1675-1677 during Louis XIV's wars.
In the Middle Ages, extraction of peet from the banks of the Scheldt was fairly successful. A few industries were set up in Destelbergen in the 19th century, for instance, tileries and oil mills.

The site of Heusden was also settled in the Prehistoric times. The oldest known mention of the town dates back to the 11th century, when Abbot Othejbold wrote that Heusden belonged to the Sat. Bavo abbey in Ghent before the Northmen invasions. Later, the domain of Heusden belonged directly to a feudal family. After the marriage in 1212 of Beatrix van Heusden with Zeger III, Burgrave of Ghent, the seat of the Burgravate of Ghent was transferred to Heusden, which belonged to the Burgravate until the French Revolution.
The Cistercian abbey of Nieuwenbosch was founded in Heusden in 1247. It was very successful until 1578, when the abbey was destroyed by the Iconoclasts and the nuns fled to Ghent. Like Destelbergen, Heusden was often sacked because of its close location to Ghent.

Ivan Sache, 12 November 2005

Flag of Destelbergen

The flag of Destelbergen is vertically divided in two parts: on left, a red field with three yellow keys placed 2 and 1; on right, a black field surmounted by a thin white stripe with seven black ermine spots.
According to the Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag, adopted on 19 May 1987 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree issued on 13 October 1987 by the Executive of Flanders and published on 16 September 1988 in the Belgian official gazette.
The flag is based on the municipal arms of Destelbergen, adopted at the same dates: it shows the first and second quarter of the arms, "Quarterly, 1. and 4. Gules three keys or 2 + 1, 2. and 3. Sable a chief argent seven ermines 4 + 3".

The arms are a combination of the arms of the former municipalities of Destelbergen and Heusden. According to Servais [svm55a], the arms of Destelbergen were granted by Royal Decree on 25 October 1954. They are based on the single known seal of the village, dating from 1782. The three keys refer to the St. Peter abbey in Ghent, owner of the village until the French Revolution.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 6 November 2005


[Flag of Haenhout]

Flag of Haenhout - Image by Jarig Bakker, 3 October 2004

Haenhout is a ward of the municipality of Destelbergen, actually a ward of the agglomeration of Gent. The flag of Haenhout is bright blue with a narrow horizontal yellow stripe placed just above the lower edge of the flag, on which stands a white rooster in front of a red sun outlined in white; the name of the ward is written in yellow capital letters in the upper right part of the flag; in the lower right part of the flag, a white, four-petaled flower with a red heart outlined dark blue is placed over the yellow stripe. The flag is canting, since haen means "rooster" in Dutch.

Source: Haenhout website

Jarig Bakker, 3 October 2004