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Tielt (Municipality, Province of West Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-04-26 by ivan sache
Keywords: tielt | chevron (red) | keys: 3 (black) | kortrijk | harelbeke |
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[Flag of Tielt]

Municipal flag of Tielt - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 8 January 2008

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Presentation of Tielt

The municipality of Tielt (19,357 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 6,850 ha) is located half distance (25 km) of Roeselare and Ghent. The municipality of Tielt is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Tielt (14,183 inh.; 3,464 ha), Aarsele (2,948 inh.; 1,510 ha), Kanegem (1,181 inh.; 1,084 ha) and Schuiferskapelle (958 inh.; 793 ha).

Tielt might have been named after the Latin word tigellum, "a tile". Remains of Gallo-Roman settlements from the IIIrd-IVth centuries have actually been found in the region of Tielt; permanent settlements probably stabilized in the V-Xth centuries around the kouters, dry, arable lands. The name of Tielt appeared for the first time in the IXth century.
In 1245, Countess of Flanders Margaretha of Constantinople founded an hospital in Tielt, while the town was granted market rights six years later. The cloth hall was built in 1275 on the market square, west of the hospital. Tielt was then the capital of the administrative division known as "De Roede van Thielt", one of the five subdivisions of the Country of Kortrijk, encompassing the 22 parishes of Aarsele, Dentergem, Egem, Gottem, Kanegem, Lotenhulle, Markegem, Meulebeke, Oeselgem, Oostrozebeke, Pittem, Poeke, Ruiselede, Schuiferskapelle, Sint-Baafs-Vijve, Tielt, Vinkt, Wakken, Wielsbeke, Wingene, Wontergem and Zwevezele. In 1393, Philip the Good allowed the town to set up a yearly fair, which boosted the clothing industry. In the middle of the XVIth century, Tielt lived mostly from flax industry.
The gilded age of Tielt ended at the end of the XVIth century with a succession of epidemics (including the black plague), blazes (the 1645 big blaze destroyed the church and more than 60 houses) and famines, that lasted up to the end of the XVIIth century.

Tielt was liberated from the German occupation on 8 September 1944 by the 1st Polish Armoured Division, commanded by General Stanislaw Maczek (1892-1994). On 17 December 1944, General Maczek was granted the title of Honorary Citizen of Tielt. On 8 September 1994, a statue by Jef Claerhout, representing the general with a key from the municipal coat of arms was inaugurated in Tielt; the key is also "The Key of Freedom", used by Maczek's troops to open the gates of the towns they liberated, from Falaise (Normandy, France) to Wilhelmshaven (Germany).
Another statue by Jef Claerhout portrays Olivier de Duivel (1434-1484), better known in France as "Olivier le Diable" (Oliver the Devil) or "le Mauvais" (the Bad), the son of the local barber Jan De Neckere. On a journey from Oudenaarde to Bruges, the French Dauphin Louis (later King Louis XI) stayed in 1458 at the 't Klein Schaek inn and met Olivier, who remained his private councillor for the next 25 years. Olivier and his friends became very powerful and led the French politics until the death of the king on 30 August 1483. Two days later, Olivier was captured and jailed in the Louvre; he was hung on 21 May 1484 on the famous gallows of Montfaucon. The statue portrays Olivier with devil's horns, holding barber's tools and with a rope around the neck.
Yet another statue by Jef Claerhout protrays the cyclist Alberic "Briek" Schotte (1919-2004), born in Kanegem and better known as "The Last Flandrian". Schotte was Champion of the World in 1948 and 1950 and, most important in Flanders, won the Tour of Flanders in 1942 and 1948. The "Flandrians" were those little stylish but so efficient Flemish racers, who never gave up, whatever the weather and the road was.
Yet another statue by Jef Claerhout, and probably the most impressive one, portrays Anna De Coninck (c. 1560-1603), better known as Tanneken Sconyncx, accused to be a witch in 1602 and deceased on 2 June 1603 after days of torture.


Ivan Sache, 29 November 2007

Municipal flag of Tielt

The municipal flag of Tielt is white with a red chevron and three black keys.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 9 October 1980, confirmed by Royal Decree on 9 February 1981 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 2 April 1981.
The flag is a banner of the muncipal arms.

The municipal website gives the Dutch description of the municipal arms as In zilver (wit) een keper van keel (rood), vergezeld van drie omgewende (naar rechts wijzende) sleutels van sabel (zwart) ; het schild getopt met een stedenkroon met vijf torens van goud (geel). The arms are topped with a five-tower mural crown.
According to Servais, the arms of Tielt were granted by (Belgian) Royal Decree on 7 April 1838, confirming an earlier (Dutch) Royal Decree. The local tradition says that the arms were granted by William of Normandy, who added three keys to the arms of the neighbouring town of Harelbeke. Municipal seals from the XVth century indeed shows the keys-and-chevron arms, but the chevron was more probably derived from the arms of Kortrjik, a town much bigger than Harelbeke and a regional capital.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 29 November 2007