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Knesselare (Municipality, Province of East Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-03-29 by ivan sache
Keywords: knesselare | ursel |
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Municipal flag of Knesselare - Image by Jarig Bakker, 13 December 2000

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Presentation of Knesselare

The municipality of Knesselare (7,894 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,727 ha) is located in the Meetjesland, a region located north-west of Ghent. The municipality of Knesselare is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Knesselare (5,221 inh.) and Ursel (2,677 inh.).

Ivan Sache, 7 August 2007

Municipal flag of Knesselare

The flag of Knesselare is horizontally divided yellow-red.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 27 December 1977 and, again, on 28 February 1985, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 3 June 1985 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986.
The two stripes symbolize the two components of the municipalities. Yellow comes from the arms of Knesselare, while red comes from the arms of Ursel.

According to the municipal website, the official description of the flag is Twee even hoge banen van geel en rood.
The arms are Gedeeld, links: in goud een schuinkruis van keel; rechts: in keel een schildhoofd van zilver, beladen met drie mereltjes van het veld (Per pale, or a saltire gules, gules a chief argent three merlettes of the first).
The left part recalls the former arms of Knesselare, granted by Royal Decree on 17 December 1971 as In goud een Sint-Andrieskruis van keel; het schild overkapt door een omgekeerde schelp van goud (Or a saltire gules; the shield topped with an inverted scallop or).
The right part recalls the former arms of Ursel, granted by Royal Decree on 19 November 1936 as Van keel met het schildhoofd van zilver, beladen met drie mereltjes van het veld; het schild gehouden door twee griffoenen van goud. Het geheel geplaatst op een wapenmantel van keel, gevoerd met hermelijn, de zijwanden met de kleuren van het schild en getopt met de hertogelijke kroon van het Heilige Rijk (Gules a chief argent charged with three merlettes of the first. The shield supported by two griffins or, the whole surrounded by a mantle gules with ermines and topped by a Ducal coronet of the Holy Roman Empire).
Therefore, the modern arms of Knesselare are, logically, per pale Knesselare ancient and Ursel.

The arms of Ursel are indeed the arms of the Dukes of Ursel. Their arms are the origin of the flag and arms used by the municipality of Oostkamp and were used by other former municipalities of Belgium: Hallaar (incorporated into Heist-op-den-Berg in 1976), Hingene (incorporated into Bornem in 1976), Hoboken (incorporated into Antwerp in 1982) and Kerkhove (incorporated into Avelgem in 1976; right shield).
The Ursel family website gives a short account of the lineage history:

The d'Ursel family descends from the Schetz. Originating from Smalkalde (Hesse), the latest established in Hasselt and Maastricht in the XVth century, and in Antwerp at the beginning of the XVIth century. Real founder of the House, Erasmus Schetz (around 1480-1550), quickly acquired a dominating influence among the most important merchants of Antwerp. He was well known for the dealing of metals, in particular at the Calamine mines, and sugar imported from Brasil and cropped on the lands he had acquired since 1540. The remains of the factory he founded are now considered as an archaelogical site of increasing interest. He was ennobled by the court in 1527 and bought in 1545 the Grobbendonk seigniory.
His eldest son, Gaspar Schetz (1513-1580) was not only a powerful merchant but also King officer. In 1560, he gained the important position of general treasurer of The Netherlands. He also played a main political role which he wrote down. Heir to the Grobbendonk seigniory, he bought many lands, among which Wezemaal, Heyst and Hingene. His second wife, Catherine van Ursel (d. 1605), one of the daughters of the famous burgomaster of Antwerp Lancelot van Ursel, gave him two sons who made successsful careers.
The youngest son, Antoine Schetz (1560-1640), made a brilliant military career. Governor of Bois-le-Duc, he defended this catholic bastion until 1629, thrown out then by Prince Frédéric-Henri. Some years later, in 1635, he took his revenge, defending victoriously Leuven when assaulted by the Franco-Batave army. In 1602, the king set his Grobbendonk land up as a Barony, and in 1637 as a County. His descendants died out in 1726, handing down all his fortune to the eldest branch of the family.
This branch is descended from Conrard Schetz (1553-1632), Lord of Hingene, who in 1600 got the title of baron of Hoboken. Conrard Schetz was councillor, treasury assistant and even ambassador of the archdukes in London for a while. Adopted by one of his mother's sisters, he received in 1617 the family name d'Ursel. He was married to Françoise, the eldest daughter of the Private Council's president, Jean Richardot. His son Conrard d'Ursel (1592-1659) was promoted to the dignity of Count of the Holy Empire in 1638 and his great-grandson Conrard-Albert (1665-1738) to that of Duke of Hoboken in 1717.
The first Duke of Hoboken, better known under the name of Duke d'Ursel, ended off his long military career as governor of the County of Namur. He married in 1713 Princess Eléonore of Salm, daughter of a Bavarian family related to most European courts. He inherited the fortune from the youngest Grobbendonk family branch complying with the written wishes that the old count of Grobbendonk had addressed to him several years before: "United, our fortunes will make our family one of the most powerful of the country".
His son Charles, second Duke d'Ursel (1717-1775), lieutenant field marshal in the service of Maria-Theresia, military governor of Brussels, Knight of the Golden Fleece, married Princess Eléonore of Lobkowicz. One of his daughters, Henriette d'Ursel, married the famous marshal Ferraris who designed the map that still carries his name.
His son Wolfgang-William, third Duke d'Ursel (1750-1804), general officer and husband of Princess Flore d'Arenberg, played a short but main role in the end-of-the-century disturbances well-known under the name of Revolution of Brabant.The French Revolution and the continuous debt contracted by his House all along the XVIIIth century, seriously undermined the fortune he left to his son Charles-Joseph, fourth Duke d'Ursel (1777-1860).
This duke was described as a man "of pleasant company (...), witty and moderate in his opinions, what led him to earn the highest esteem from people". He became burgomaster of Brussels under Napoléon, minister and Grand Master of the Queen's House under King William, and last but not least senator of the new recently created Kingdom of Belgium. His wife Louise-Victoire-Marie-Josèphe-Françoise Ferrero-Fieschi, Princess of Masserano, gave him three sons from whom all the currently living d'Ursel are descended.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 9 September 2007