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Boechout (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Boechout]

Municipal flag of Boechout - Image by Ivan Sache, 23 September 2001

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Presentation of Boechout

The municipality of Boechout (12,119 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,066 ha) is located 10 km south-west of Antwerp. The municipality of Boechout is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Boechout (9,635 inh.) and Vremde (2,454 inh.).

Boechout was mentioned for the first time in 974, when the German Emperor Otto II transferred to the St. Bavo abbey in Ghent the "villa Buocholt", with its church and dependencies. The monk built the St. Bavo church and the domain was ruled on their behalf by magistrates staying in the Sombeke manor. In the XIIIth century, the Duke of Brabant transferred Boechout to the Berthout, lords of Mechelen and Berlaar. In the XIVth century, Boechout belonged for a while to Count of Flanders Lodesijk van Male, who transfered it back to the lords of Cantincrode (Mortsel). Later owners of the doimain of Boechout were the families van Ranst, Granvelle, Peckius, van den Cruyce, Stockmans, van Baerland, Courtois and van Colen.
During the Boernkrijg, a battle took place on the border between Boechout and Mortsel; 600 brigands forced the French troops to withdraw. Jenneval, the author of the Belgian national anthem, died in Boechout in 1830 during the Belgian revolution.

Boechout is the birth place of Jan Frans Willems (1793-1846), nicknamed "The Father of the Flemish Movement". Born in a poor family, Willems learned Latin, singing, organ playing and speech production with the rich Bergmann family in Lier. He was also taught moral principles and the love for the Dutch language. In 1807, he published Hekeldicht op den maire en municipaliteyt van Bouchout (Satire on the Mayor and the Municipality of Boecholt). He then worked as a notary clark in Antwerp and published in Ghent in 1812 Hymne aan het vaderland over den veldslag van Friedland en de daaropvolgende Vrede van Tilsit (Anthem to the motherland on the battlefield of Friedland and the subsequent Peace of Tilsit. Willems hold several official positions related to language and culture during the reign of William I and after the Belgian independence. His poem Aan de Belgien - Aux Belges (To the Belgians, 1818) had a great impact. In 1834, he published the first modern rendition of the medieval Flemish poem Reinaert de Vos. Willems was elected in 1835 at the Royal Academy, where he defended the Dutch language and fought against the Frenchization of the new Belgian state.
The Willemsfonds, today with 8,000 members, was founded in 1851 as a non-profit organization, of liberal inspiration, promoting the Flemish culture and language in Belgium.

Boechout is the place of the Sfinks world music festival, that welcomed Brenda Wooton, Clannad, Youssou N'Dour, Sun Ra, Gilberto Gil, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Cheb Khaled, Ruben Blades, I Muvrini, Manu Dibango, Alpha Blondy, Goran Bregovic, Kocani Orkestar, 17 Hippies and many others.

Vremde was mentioned for the first time as Frimethe in 1003, when the German Emperor Henri II transferred back the village to the St. Bavo abbey. Until the French Revolution, Vremde included most of the village of Millegem, later transfered to Ranst. In 1203, Gillis Berthout, lord of Berlaar, offerred a lot of land to the abbot of Villers to build an abbey; the new abbey was later built in Hemiksem rather than in Vremde, but the abbey of Villers kept the land. The successive owners of the domain of Vremde were the families Berthout, van Ranst, Bau, Cortenbach, van Rommerswael and van der Gracht. In 1660, Vremde became a Barony.
In 1748-1755, there was a big dispute between Boechout and Vremde about the border between the two municipalities; a trial was held before the Court of Brabant. After the French Revolution, Vremde refused to appoint a Mayor to protest against the new rulers and Vremde was about to be merged with Boechout, which eventually occurred in 1976.


Ivan Sache, 26 May 2007

Municipal flag of Boechout

The flag of Boechout is vertically divided into two equal parts; the left part is horizontally divided red-blue whereas the right part is quartered white-red.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 6 July 1981, confirmed by Royal Decree on 2 February 1982 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 21 April 1982 and, again, on 4 January 1995.
The colours and the divisions of the flag are taken from the municipal arms.

The municipal arms of Boechout, as shown on the municipal website, are:
"Quarterly, I. gules two staffs or crossed per saltire, II. and IV. per pale argent a chevron gules three merlettes sable gules two swords or crossed per saltire, III. azure two hawk's bells or." I use "staff" and "sword", respectively, because the representation of the charges is quite different.
Quarters I and III are the old arms of Boechout, granted by Royal Decree on 9 November 1907.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 26 May 2007