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Zelzate (Municipality, Province of East Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-09-06 by ivan sache
Keywords: zelzate | lion (black) | eagle: double-headed (black) | assenede |
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[Flag of Zelzate]

Municipal flag of Zelzate - Image by Filip van Laenen & Ivan Sache, 4 January 2008

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Presentation of Zelzate

The municipality of Zelzate (12,190 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 1,371 ha) is located north of Ghent, on the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal and on the border with the Netherlands.

Zelzate, located in the north of the Ghent business park set up along the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal, is a very industrialized town, with steelworks (SIDMAR, today ArcelorMittal Gent, part of ArcelorMittal) and a chemical plant.
The Ghent-Terneuzen Canal is the follower of the old Sas Canal (Sassevaart), built after the siltingup of the Zwin, which prevented the communication between Ghent and the North Sea. Authorized by Charles V on 26 May 1547, the Sas Canal was completed in 1563 with the building of a fortification near the new village of Sas (today, Sas van Gent, located in the Netherlands). On 21 May 1572, the Sea Gueuzen seized Sas van Gent and destroyed the lock and the village; it took five years to reestablish maritime traffic. In 1648, the Dutch forbid navigation on the Scheldt to Sas van Gent and Antwerp. The Sas Canal silted up and was forgotten until the reunification of the Netherlands in 1815.
In 1823, King William I ordered the increase of the Sas Canal to Terneuzen; the canal was inaugurated on 18 November 1827. Navigation on the canal was stopped again from 1830 to 1841, following the independence of Belgium.

Zelzate is the birth town of the mezzo-soprano Rita Gorr (b. 1926 as Marguerite Geirnaert). Gorr made most of her career in the operas of Paris and Strasbourg, but also sang in the Bayreuth festival, the Met of New York, the Scala of Milan, Covent Garden in Londeon and the State Opera of Vienna. In July 2007, aged 81, she performed on stage for the last time in Ghent, as the Countess in Tchaikovsky's "Queen of the Spades".

Ivan Sache, 4 January 2008

Municipal flag of Zelzate

The municipal flag of Zelzate is vertically divided green-white-green, with, in canton, a yellow shield with a black lion holding in its right foot a black double-headed eagle.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 21 May 1992, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 6 October 1992 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 21 June 1994.
The flag was designed after the municipal arms, "Per fess, or a half-lion sable holding in dexter a double-headed eagle of the same, vert a pale argent".

The upper part of the arms comes from the former arms of Assenede, from which it depended in the Middle Ages.
According to Servais, the old coat of arms of Assenede is identical to the old coat of arms of the Vier Ambachten* (Boekhoute, Assenede, Axel and Hulst). The lion recalls the County of Flanders whereas the eagle recalls that the Vier Ambachten belonged to the Bishopry of Utrecht, then part of the German Empire.
The lower part of the arms symbolizes the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal flowing in the middle of the pastures.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 4 January 2008

*De Vier Ambachten are the Four Cooperating Jurisdictions in the north of the County of Flanders. The regions are Assenede, Axel, Bouchoute and Hulst. About 1050 several kanselarijen were founded in Flanders, each had some ambachten (Latin, officium) and each ambacht had some parochies (villages). In 1242 the four Ambachten started to cooperate as the Vier Ambachten (Quatro officia). This cooperation was based on a keure, an official memorandum by the Count of Flanders.

Rene van der Elshout, from the historic circle Oudheidkundige Kring "De Vier Ambachten Hulst", 27 April 2008