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Melle (Municipality, Province of East Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-03-29 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Melle]

Municipal flag of Melle - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 7 July 2005

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Presentation of Melle

The municipality of Melle (10,660 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 1,521 ha) is located a few kilometers south-west of Ghent. The municipality of Melle is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Melle and Gontrode.

Melle was already mentioned on a chart dated 830, according to Dr. M. Gysseling. While H. Verbist claims that the name of the town comes from the Celtic word melina, which means "brown water", Gysseling believes the name of Melle is related to the Prehistoric anthroponym "Melinos", meaning "with honey-yellow hair". Melle was indeed inhabited in the Prehistoric times, as shown by several artifacts found on the territory of the municipality.

Melle is made of three parts, Melle-Centrum, Melle-Vogelhoek, a borough which developed in the beginning of the XXth century because of the development of the neighbouring marshalling yard of Merelbeke, and, following the administrative reform of 1976, Gontrode, the rural part of the municipality.
Gontrode ("the place were trees were uprooted and laid down near the river Gont") was mentioned for the first time in an agreement beetween St. Bavo in Ghent abbey and Hildegardis van Melne (that is, Melle) in 1229. During the First World War, there was an airfield with a huge hangar for zeppelins in Gontrode.

In the past, Melle and Gontrode belonged to the Country of Rode, which was made of seventeen parishes: Bottelare, Melsen, Munte and Schelderode, today included in the municipality of Merelbeke; Balegem, Gijzenzele, Landskouter, Moortsele, Oosterzele and Scheldewindeke, forming today the municipality of Oosterzele; Bavegem, Letterhoutem and Vlierzele, today included in the municipality of Sint-Lievens-Houtem; Gentbrugge, today included in the municipality of Ghent; Melle and Gontrode, forming today the municipality of Melle; and the exclave of Beerlegem, today included in the municipality of Zwalm.
The lords of Rode emerged in the XIIth century, when their early domain included only Balegem, Beerlegem, Moortsele and Schelderode. The other parishes were obtained by swapping them for other possessions with the Count of Flanders and the St. Peter abbey, in 1226 and 1232, respectively. One of the most powerful lords in the County of Flanders, the lord of Rode was made a Baron in 1565 and a Marquis in 1682. The Rode family was succeeded as the lord of Rode by the families of Kortrjik, Kassen, Bar, Luxembourg and Bourbon. King of France Henri IV sold in 1602 the Country of Rode to Simeon (Simao) Rodriguez de Evora y Vega, a merchant of Antwerp of Portuguese origin.
The lords of Melle built in the XIIIth century a stone fortress called castle Cortrosine. The castle was sacked by the Huguenots during the religious wars in 1579. Melle was a place of residence for the rich burghers from Ghent, which built there beautiful manors, like those called de Bueren, ter Camere and de Varens.


Ivan Sache, 21 January 2007

Municipal flag of Melle

The municipal flag of Melle is diagonally (per bend sinister) divided red-yellow with the municipal arms,"Or four chevrons gules", in the middle.

According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 18 February 1980, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 10 December 1980, and published in the Belgian official gazette on 3 February 1981.

The arms of the new municipality of Melle are shown in the Gelre Armorial for Sohier III le Coutroisin [from Kortrijk], lord of Melle (He. v. Melle, #976, folio 81v). On the Armorial, the upper chevron is couped (that is, the top of the chevron is "out" of the shield.
However, they have nothing to do with the arms of the former municipalities of Melle and Gontrode:
- Melle used until 1976 as its municipal arms the arms of Rode supported by St. Martin and the poor. The arms of Melle were adopted by the Municipal Council on 27 June 1950, confirmed by Royal Decree on 19 February 1951 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 15 March 1951, with the following description:
Van goud met een leeuw van sabel genageld en getongd van keel met een uitgeschulpte zoom van sabel - het schild geplaatst voor een Sint-Martinus met aureool te paard, houdende in de rechterhand een zwaard waarmee hij zijn mantel, die hij met de linkerhand houdt, in tweën snijdt, en waarvan hij de helgt geeft aan een arme, op de grond gezeten, rechts, steunend met de linkerhand op een kruk, alles geplaatst op een grasgrond, het geheel van goud.
- Gontrode used until 1976 as its municipal arms the arms of Rode, with the black letters "G" and "T" added in chief and supported by the black lion holding the banner of arms of Rode. The arms of Gontrode were granted by Royal Decree on 13 October 1819 with the following description:
Van goud beladen met een klimmenden zwarten leeuw getongd en genageld van rood, het schild gezoomd met een zwarte getande rand en van achter vastgehouden door een zittende zwarte leeuw op het schild ter regter zijde is geplaatst een banier van goud beladen met een ter linker zijde klimmenden zwarten leeuw, getongd en genageld van rood. Het schild is vermeederd met de letters G.T.

Source: Land van Rode Heemkundig Genootschaap website, quoting Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 2 September 2007