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Herselt (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2012-02-25 by ivan sache
Keywords: herselt | letter: h (blue) | merode | westerloo |
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[Flag of Herselt]

Municipal flag of Herselt - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 17 January 2006

See also:

Presentation of Herselt

The municipality of Herselt (13,929 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 5,232 ha), the south-easternmost municipality in the province of Antwerp, is located 30 km south-east of Antwerp and 20 km north-west of Leuven, and borders (Flemish) Brabant. The municipality of Herselt is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Herselt and Ramsel.

The region of Herselt was converted to the Christian religion in the Frankish times, around 700; one century later, Herselt had its own parish church. In the 12th century, the region was ruled to the lords of Wesemaal, who ceded it to the Merode family in the 15th century. In the 16th century, the area was scoured by the Dutch, the Spaniards, the French, the Lorrains, the Rhenans and the Austrians, as well as by the black plague.
At the end of the 18th century, Herselt was a center of the revolt against the French rule, the Boerenkrijg. The tocsin was sounded in 1798, announcing that the French had been expelled from the castle of Westerlo. Volunteers from Herselt also joined the 1830 independence war.
A post office was opened in Herselt in 1881 and the tramway Mechelen-Westerlo was extended to Aarschot via Herselt in 1911. During the First World War, 32 houses of the town were burnt by the Germans, 29 inhabitants held hostages, tortured and murdered, and another 16 were killed in action. Between the two World Wars, several young people abandoned their farms and worked in factories, mines or offices.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 17 January 2006

Municipal flag of Herselt

The municipal flag of Herselt is vertically divided yellow-red-yellow-red-yellow-red-yellow-red-yellow (nine stripes) with en engrailed blue border and a blue letter "H" in the middle.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag and arms were adopted by the Municipal Council on 14 November 1984, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 3 December 1984 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, which are the arms of the family of Merode-Westerlo with the "H" (for Herselt) added for distinction from the municipal arms (and flag) of Westerlo. The greater arms of Herselt, as shown on the municipal website, are placed in front of a big tree supporting the two red ribbons that flank the shield.

Merode is one of the oldest Belgian nobler lineage; there were Counts of Merode in the Middle Ages, as well as Barons of Merode and Princes of the Holy Roman Empire, and Princes of Merode in 1759. The current titles of the Merode are:
- Prince of Rubempré, in the Holy Roman Empire (1759);
- Prince of Rubempré, in the Kingdom of Belgium (1846);
- Prince of Everberghe, in the Holy Roman Empire (1759);
- Prince of Everberghe, in the Kingdom of the Netherlands (1827);
- Prince of Grimberghe, in the Kingdom of Belgium (1842);
- Prince of Merode, in the Kingdom of Belgium (1929).
The head of the House of Merode is since 1980 Charles-Guillaume (b. 1940), third Prince of Merode, Marquis of Westerloo, Prince of Rubempré and Grimberghe. Prince Alexandre of Merode (1934-2002) was Vice President of the International Olympic Committee and President of the Royal Association of the Historic Houses of Belgium. Princess Baudoin de Merode (b. 1948), née Nathalie van den Abeele, is the unique lady-in-waiting of Queen Paola since 1997.
Count Frédéric de Merode (1792-1830) fought during the Independence War of Belgium in 1830; injured during the battle of Berchem on 25 October 1830, he died in Antwerp ten days later and became a national hero, being the first noble of higher rank to die for the new Belgium. His brother, Count Félix de Merode (1791-1857) was one of the political leaders of the War; appointed member of the Provisory Government and then of the National Congress, he refused the throne because he was not a Prince and was member of the delegation that proposed the throne to Prince Louis d'Orléans, to no avail, in Paris on 3 July 1831. King Leopold I appointed him State Minister in 1831 but he resigned in 1839 because he did not want to sign the treaty of abandon of parts of Luxembourg and Limburg by Belgium. His son, Count Xavier de Merode (1820-1874), served in the French Army in Kabylia (Algeria) in 1844-1847 and then was ordained priest. Pope Pius IX appointed him Director of the Pontifical Prisons and Minister of War in 1860. After the defeat of Castelfidardo against the Piemontese troops, Merode carried on the reorganization of the papal army and also contributed to the modern urbanization of Rome. Forced to resign in 1865, Merode was appointed Archbishop of Mytilene (in partibus) in 1866. After the seizure of Rome by the Piemontese in 1870, Merode withdrew with the pope into the Vatican.

Arnaud Bunel's Héraldique Européenne website shows the arms of several branches of the Merode lineage.
The House of Merode bears "Or four pales gules a border engrailed azure", whereas the House of Scheiffart de Merode, the senior branch extincted in 1733, bore "Or four pales gules".

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 14 July 2007

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