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Hasselt (Municipality, Province of Limburg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2012-04-13 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Hasselt]

Municipal flag of Hasselt - Image by Jarig Bakker, 8 October 2001

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Presentation of Hasselt

The municipality of Hasselt (70,584 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 10,224 ha), located on the Albert Canal and the river Demer, is the capital of the Province of Limburg. The municipality of Hasselt is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Hasselt, Kermt (including Spalbeek since 1970), Kuringen (including Stokrooie since 1970), Sint-Lambrechts-Herk, Stevoort and Wimmertingen.

Hasselt emerged around the 7th century on brook Helbeek, a tributary of the Demer. The town was once known as Hasselth, meaning "a hazel tree wood". Hasselt was one of the Good Towns of the County of Loon, whose territory matched more or less the today's province of Limburg (which has little to do with the old Duchy of Limburg). Hasselt was granted municipal rights in 1165, which were confirmed in 1232 by Count of Loon Arnold IV. Borgloon was the political capital of the County of Loon but Hasselt superseded it as the economic capital of the County, mostly because of its geographical location and closeness to the Count's castle and the Herkenrode abbey in Kuringen. Hasselt was chosen as the capital of the Province of Limburg in 1839.
Hasselt has one of the biggest Japanese gardens in Europe, a result of the partnership with the Japanese town of Itami. It was once the Belgian capital of gin, which is remembred by the National Gin Museum (Nationaal Jenevermuseum).

Hasselt is the birth town of the Navy officer and polar explorer Adrien de Gerlache de Gomery (1866-1934), who commanded the Belgian polar expedition in 1897-1899 and was the first man to overwinter in Antarctica.
Dr Louis Willems (1822-1907), also born in Hasselt, is one of the inventors of prophylactic immunization, which he applied to protect cattle from the contagious pleuropneumonia (aka lung sickness).
A more recent celebrity of Hasselt is the politician Willy Claes (b. 1938); appointed Minister in 1972, 1977 and 1988, Claes is internationally known as the President of the Party of European Socialists (1992) and the Secretary General of NATO from 1994 to 1995. Involved in the Agusta-Dassaut corruption affair, he had to resigned and was sentenced by the Belgian justice to a three-year suspended sentence and a five-year ban from any public office.
Hasselt is the birth town of the singer Axelle Red, born in 1968 as Fabienne Demal, who sings in French and Spanish. The other singer from Hasselt, Dana Winner (b. 1965) does sing in Dutch.
Hasselt was the place of a womens' tennis competition from 2004 to 2006 with Elena Dementieva (2004) and the local Kim Clijsters (2005 and 2006) as winners. The turnament was cancelled in 2007.

The abbey of Herkenrode was founded by Count Gerard of Loon in 1182; transferred to the Cistercians in 1217, Herkenrode became the biggest and richest nuns' abbey of the order in the Low Countries. Gerard of Loon and all his successors were buried in the abbey church of Herkenrode. Completely rebuilt in the 18th century, the abbey was closed by the French rulers in 1797.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 15 July 2007

Municipal flag of Hasselt

The municipal flag of Hasselt is horizontally divided white-green-white-green-white.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 24 June 1986, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 7 October 1986 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 3 December 1987.
The flag was already in used in the 19th century and early 20th century. The colours most probably come from the sinister part of the municipal arms.

The arms of Hasselt were granted by Royal Decree on 30 January 1840 as "Per pale, barruly of ten pieces or and gules, argent a hazeltree vert standing on a terrace of the same". The dexter part recalls the County of Loon whereas the sinister part makes the arms canting. According to Servais [svm55a], the Loon stripes and the hazel trees already appeared on a 15th-century municipal seal, and were shown on all later seals. The per pale divided shield appeared in 1625 and has been kept on the municipal arms and seals since then.
The arms of Kuringen, granted by Royal Decree on 17 July 1904, are fairly similar, the hazel tree being replaced by the branch of an unspecified tree.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 15 July 2007

Former flags of Hasselt

[Former flag of Hasselt]     [Former flag of Hasselt]     [Former flag of Hasselt]

Former municipal flags of Hasselt, c. 1900 - Images by Ivan Sache, 12 June 2005

Nouveau Larousse Illustré, Dictionnaire Universel Encyclopédique (7 volumes, published in Paris, 1898-1904) shows the flags of the main Belgian towns, then based on the traditional colours of the towns.
Three flags are shown for Hasselt, the first horizontally divided white-green-white-green, the second identical but with three white six-pointed stars in each green stripe, and the third vertically divided green-white-green-white.

Jan Martens & Ivan Sache, 12 June 2005

1830 Honour flag

The 1830 Honour flag (description), kept in the Town Museum, was made of silk, double-sided, and measured 116 cm x 125 cm.
The diploma (description), kept in the same place, is a paper and cardboard document measuring 48.7 cm x 35.6 cm, including the folllowing text (in French):

Commission of National Awards.
Following the Congress Decree of 28 May 1831 the Commission has resolved to award an Honour flag to the Municipality of Hasselt
Brussels, 27 September 1832.
Secretaries (two signatures), Chairman (signature)

Jan Mertens, 12 September 2011