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Sint-Gillis-Waas (Municipality, Province of East Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2009-01-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: sint-gillis-waas | waasland | turnip |
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[Flag of Sint-Gillis-Waas]

Municipal flag of Sint-Gillis-Waas - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 10 November 2007

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Presentation of Sint-Gillis-Waas and its villages

The municipality of Sint-Gillis-Waas (18,164 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 5,498 ha) is located in the region of Waasland, between Ghent and Antwerp and on the border with the Netherlands. The municipality of Sint-Gillis-Waas is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Sint-Gillis-Waas, De Klinge, Meerdonk and Sint-Pauwels.

Sint-Gillis-Waas was mentioned for the first time in 1220. The village developed slowly around the Cusforda chapel, founded in 1123, after which the Cusforda monastery was also named. The village of Sint-Gillis was a personal possession of the Counts of Flanders.

De Klinge is named after the Germanic word klinga, "inland duins". In the past, the village was named Wase [from Waasland] Klinge, Vlaamse [Flemish] Klinge, Oostenrijkse [Austrian] Klinge and eventually Belgische [Belgian] Klinge, to make the difference with its Dutch counterpart, Clinge (today part of the municipality of Hulst). From 1794 to 1830, De Klinge and Clinge formed a single municipality, which was split again after the independence of Belgium.

Meerdonk, originally known as Merdonck, "a sandy hill in the flat land", belonged until the end of the 13th century to the Viscounty of Ghent, part itself of the County of Flanders. In 1584, the patriots flooded the polders, including the most part of Meerdonk, to block Alexander Farnese's army. A former hamlet of Vrasene (incorporated into Beveren in 1976), Meerdonk became an independent municipality on 1 March 1845.

Sint-Pauwels was a personal possession of the Counts of Flanders. Granted a municipal administration in 1551-1594, the village was run in the early 17th century by Kemzeke (incorporated into Stekene in 1976) and Stekene. Until the end of the 18th century, Sint-Pauwels was merged with Kemzeke.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 4 November 2007

Municipal flag of Sint-Gillis-Waas

The municipal flag of Sint-Gillis-Waas is quartered blue-yellow with the Waasland turnip in canton.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02a], the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 4 June 1987, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 1 October 1991 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 4 January 1995.
The colours and the turnip are taken from the coat of arms, while the four quarters represent the four components of the municipality.

The story of the Waasland turnip is told by Servais [svm55a] as follows (quoting the translation from the International Civic Heraldry website):

Emperor Charles V once visited the city of Sint Niklaas and obviously a crowd gathered to see the emperor. Among these was a small farmer holding a huge turnip, which he wanted to hand to the emperor. The guards, however, prevented the farmer to reach the emperor. The emperor, however, noticed that something was happening and asked the farmer what he had in his hands. The farmer answered that he had a giant fruit and that he wanted to give it to the emperor. The emperor was intrigued and let the farmer pass the guards. The emperor accepted the turnip and awarded the farmer with a large purse.
Seeing the reward for a simple turnip, a local horsebreeder imagined the award he would fetch if he gave the emperor a good horse. So he offered the emperor a beautiful horse. The emperor responded, saying that for a beautiful horse, he would donate one of his precious possessions, and handed the breeder the turnip. Embarrassed the breeder had to accept the turnip, which ever since has been the symbol of the Waasland and its fertile soil.

The famous turnip is portrayed on the municipal flags of Lokeren, Sint-Gillis-Waas, Sint-Niklaas and Waasmunster.

Servais shows the municipal arms of Sint-Gillis-Waas, granted by Royal Decree on 28 February 1840, as "Azure a Saint Giles and a turnip all or". The saint already appeared on a municipal seal in the 18th century. St. Giles is portrayed as a bishop.
The arms of Sint-Pauwels, granted by Royal Decree on 9 May 1914 after the municipal seal granted by (Dutch) Royal Decree in 1819, were designed on the same pattern, portraying St. Paul instead of St. Giles. St. Paul is represented as usual, bald and bearded and holding a sword.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 4 November 2007