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Kortemark (Municipality, Province of West Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2021-06-19 by ivan sache
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Flag of Kortemark - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 24 June 2006

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Presentation of Kortemark and its villages

The municipality of Kortemark (12,060 inhabitants in 2007; 5,500 ha; municipal website) is located 15 km east of Diksmuide and 10 km north-west of Roeselare. The municipality was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Kortemark, Handzame and Zarren-Werken (itself formed in 1970 as the merger of Werken and Zarren).

Kortemark (6,068 inh. in 1999; 2,051 ha) was mentioned for the first time in 1063, as Merck, a name of Frankish origin meaning something like "a settlement built in the middle of an uninhabited area". In 1281, the village of Courtemarck came into the hands of Guido of Dampierre, count of Flanders. It was granted the status of feudal domain with its own administration and court.
The Louwaeghe brewery in Kortemark brews the Hapkin lager.

Handzame (3,051 inh. in 1999; 1,363 ha) was mentioned for the first time in 1085, as Hansam, a name of Germanic origin meaning something like "a spur of land in a flooded area". The early settlement was probably founded by Friesian merchants needing a safe place with an access to the sea. Years after the end of the flood, Handzame is still a significant sea port. From there, Flemish cloth was shipped via the river Krekebeek to the yearly market of Torhout; until the end of the 19th century, water coaches carried a lot of farmers every Monday to the butter's market in Diksmuide.
Handzame is the home of the Vlaams Centrum voor Heraldiek en Genealogie (Flemish Heraldry and Genealogy Centre).

Werken (1,050 inh. in 1999; 965 ha) was mentioned for the first time in a document of the St. Bertinus abbey in Saint-Omer, as Weretha, which means "a wall on the water". In 1279, the village came into the hands of Guido of Dampierre, count of Flanders. In 1286, the local lord allowed the building of a convent by the order of the Rijke Klaren. The buildings were sold in 1295 to the Cistercian nuns of Hemelsdale, who stayed there until the destruction of the convent by the Geuzen in 1578.
Zarren (2,061 inh. in 1999; 1,120 ha) was mentioned for the first time in 961, as Villa Sarra, a name probably built on the Celtic root ser, "quick running water". The village was in the past closely linked to the sea via the gulf of Diksmuide.

Ivan Sache & Jan Mertens, 24 June 2006

Flag of Kortemark

The flag of Kortemark is vertically divided in two equal parts. The left half of the flag is yellow with a black lion with red tongue and claws, whereas the right half of the flag is a gyronny of eight blue and yellow pieces with a red escutcheon in the center.
The flag and arms, adopted on 25 January 1980 by the Municipal Council, are prescribed by a Royal Decree issued on 25 April 1980 and published on 20 June 1980 in the Belgian official gazette.
The left part of the flag recalls the chief of the municipal arms, the leopard of the arms being a lion on the flag, whereas the right part of the flag recalls the field of the arms. Both the flag and arms combine the arms of Flanders (modern) and the arms known as Flanders ancient.
The flag of Kortemark is a kind of mirrored version of the unofficial banner of arms of West Flanders.
[Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02]]

The coat of arms of the new municipality of Kortemark is based on the arms of the feudal domain of Kortemark, the four blue and the four yellow pieces in the field symbolizing the four components of the municipality.
The old arms of Kortemark show the arms of the lineages that ruled the domain: Baudouin (until 1127), bearing the gyronny gold and azure, and Alsace (1128-1191), bearing the lion.
The arms of the modern municipality of Kortemark, granted by Royal Decree on 14 February 1842, were the same but with ten pieces instead of eight.
The arms of Kortemark were granted for the first time by (Dutch) Royal Decree on 10 November 1819 with the lion facing sinister, which was corrected in the 1842 Decree.
The lion was plain black in the pre-1980 version of the arms.
[Wapenboek van de Provinciën en Gemeenten van België [svm55a]]

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 17 June 2006