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Gavere (Municipality, Province of East Flanders, Belgium)

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

Municipal flag of Gavere - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 30 October 2006

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Presentation of Gavere and its villages

The municipality of Gavere (12,179 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,134 ha) is located on the river Scheldt, half distance (15 km) between Ghent and Oudenaarde. The municipality of Gavere is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Gavere, Asper, Baaigem, Dikkelvenne, Semmerzake and Vurste. All the components of the municipality but Asper are located on the right bank of the Scheldt.

Gavere was known in the Xth century as Gauara, from the Germanic word gabra, "a marshy area". There are several Flemish toponyms built on the same root, for instance, Gaverbeek, de Gavers, Gavergoed.
The Barons of Gavere, known since the middle of the Xth century, were considered as "one of the oldest, most powerful and most famous lineages of the County of Flanders". They tried every possible means to increase their domain, which more or less matched the today's municipality of Gavere. The Gavere lineage ended in 1325 with the violent death of its last male heir.

In the late Middle Ages, Gavere was a small village (c. 500 inhabitants), but its water castle (waterbucht) had a strategic importance, watching the access to Ghent by the Scheldt. The battle of Gavere, which opposed on 22 July 1453 the Ghent militias to the Burgundians, is a milestone in the Flemish history. It was the last fighting in the fierce war that opposed Ghent to its suzereign, the Duke of Burgundy.
At that time, Ghent was the biggest and richest town in Flanders; its burghers challenged the centralized power exerted by Duke of Burgundy Philip the Good (1396-1467; Duke in 1419), who was always in need of cash and pressured the wealthy merchant towns. During the so-called Great Ghent War (grote Gentsche oorlog), both camps committed acts of violence in Flanders for two years.
In June 1453, the Duke decided to definitively get rid of Ghent; he gathered his vassals in Picardy, Artois and Hainaut, setting up a 30,000-men army, as powerful as the enemy's militias. On 16 July, he started the siege of the fortress of Gavere, which had been seized by Ghent two years ago and kept since then. The fortress was defended by some 50 Ghent milicians and 16 English mercenaries commanded by captain John Fox. Some of them attempted to break the siege and to reach Ghent. The Gaverse reyse (journey to Gavere) started on 23 July: all the valid men aged between 20 and 60 rushed out of Ghent. In the meantime, the fortress of Gavere surrendered and all his defenders were hung. The Burgundians settled in the small woods near the villages of Semmerzake, Gavere and Vurst, and waited for their opponents. After having marched three hours, the 30,000 Flemings from Ghent were gathered by John Fox, who had escaped after the surrending of the fortress. After artillery shots, the Burgundian cavalry broke the Ghent lines; some 15,000 Flemings were killed or drowned in the Scheldt when attempting to escape. However, a core group of c. 1,000 men moved into a curve of the Scheldt, where they resisted for hours to the Burgundians, which were led in personam by the Duke and his son Charles the Bold. None of them escaped but their heroic sacrifice preserved the town of Ghent from total destruction and plundering, since it was too late in the afternoon for the Burgundians to march against the town. Eventually, the Duke imposed a very strict treaty to Ghent, whose de facto independence and political dominance were suppressed for ever.
The fortress of Gavere was eventually destroyed in 1658 by King Louis XIV. The only representation of the fortress is found in Sanderus' Flandria Illustrata (1641). A monument recalling the fortress and using some of its stones was built in the municipal park by Pr. Sander Evrart in 1969.

In 1518, Emperor Charles V made of Gavere a County granted to Jacob, Count van Egmont, who had married Françoise van Luxemburg and incorporated Zottegem to the domain of Gavere. Françoise obtained the elevation of the County to a Principality in 1540. The next year, the domain was transferred to Lamoraal van Egmont (1522-1568) after the death of his elder brother Karel. Lamoraal van Egmont was a powerful politician, diplomatic and military councillor of Charles V and Philip II; he was beheaded on 5 June 1968 in Brussels with the Count van Hoorne on Philip II's order. The Egmont family kept Gavere until 1717, when Maria-Clara van Egmont married the Italian prince Nicolaas Pignatelli.

Asper, once written Haspra, Haspera, Haspre, Aspera, Haspere, and eventually Asper in the XIIth century, has no widely accepted etymology. The name might be related to the river or to a local lord. Asper, together with Zingem, formed a powerful domain belonging to the lordship of Oudenaarde, which was personally owned by the Counts of Flanders.

Baaigem, according to Gysseling, comes from the Frankish Badwoingaheim, "Badwo's estate". Older written forms are Badengem and Badingehem. The village belonged to Gavere but had its own court, which met outdoors in the center of the village. The "Stone of the Disappeared Villages" (Steen der Verdwenen Dorpen), set up in Baaigem in 1978, recalls all the Belgian rural municipalities suppressed by the 1976 administrative reform.

Dikkelvenne was already known under Charles the Bald (d. 814) as Ticlevenni. Dicla means "a small dyke", whereas venne could refer to the characteristics of the local soil (in Dutch, veen means peat). The settlement is very old, since a bronze sword dated 1000-700 BC was found there in 1810. A small treasure of coins dating back to the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius were also found near 1800 in Dikkelvenne. Dikkelvenne was the seat of the Benedictine St. Peter abbey built by abbot Hilduardus, who had evangelized the local lord Magrippus in the IXth century. The English princess Christiana retired in the abbey, and her grave became a place of miracles. During the Northmen invasions, the monks brought the relics of Hilduardus and Christiana to Dendermonde. In 1081, the Count of Flanders decided to "relocate" the abbey in Geraardsbergen, as the St. Adrian abbey.

Semmerzake was also already known in the Carolingian times as Cimbarsaca or Cimbrazacium, maybe "Cimbrasius' estate". The village, once owned by the lords of Boxborre, was incorporated to Gavere in the XIIIth century.

Vurste is probably derived from the Latin word forestum, "a forest" that might have existed in the marshy banks of the Scheldt. The village belonged to Gavere, whose lord came there once a year to exercize justice. Vurste is the birth place of the Expressionist painter Henri De Cocker (1908-1978).

Source: Municipal website, including Lokale Geschiedenis Gemeente Gavere

Ivan Sache, 30 October 2006

Municipal flag of Gavere

The municipal flag of Gavere is red with three white lions placed 2 and 1.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 18 September 1992, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 16 February 1993 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 21 June 1994.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

The municipal website shows the official images of the flag and arms, and gives the official description of the arms as:
Drie zilveren leeuwen op een veld van keel (rood), bekroond met een prinsenkroon (Gules three lions argent, the shield surmonted with a prince's crown).
Servais shows the arms of Gavere before the administrative reform as:
Or three lions gules placed 2 and 1 a border engrailed sable.
These arms were granted on 19 October 1819 and confirmed by Royal Decree on 6 July 1840. There was no explanation in the application for the arms. A municipal seal dated from 1773 shows the three lions, whose origin and meaning are not known.

The Gelre Armorial, however, shows the arms of Raesse de Gavre, Lord of Liedekerke ("Liedekerke", #998, folio 82v) as "Gules three lions or".
The website of the modern Liedekerke family gives a detailed history of the lineage, with coat of arms.
The oldest known lords of Gavere were all named Rasse; one of the oldest Flemish charts lists Razo, maybe one of them. For 300 years, the head of the lineage would be named Rasse.
Rasse IV (1062-1096) was lord of Gavere and Baron of Flanders; he bore the first known arms of Gavere, "Or a double tressure vert with fleurs-de-lis of the same". The lions of Gavere appeared only in the early XIIIth century. Rasse IV went on the Crusade with the Count of Flanders and Godefroid de Bouillon but never came back.
Rasse V (1088-1149), lord of Gavere and Baron of Flanders, married Ide of Ghent-Aalst, co-heir of the domain of Liedekerke. He was appointed "bottler" of Count Charles the Good around 1127. The "bottler" was originally the manager of the wine cellars of the Count, but the office became progressively hereditary and more administrative; the "bottler" could sign some charts on the Count's behalf, attend the Council and fix the limits of the uncultivated pieces of lands to be sold or transferred. Rasse V was involved in the political struggles of the time; after the murder of Charles the Good, he took the party of Thierry of Alsace against William of Normandy, supported by King of France Louis XI. After the death of William, Thierry became Count of Flanders and appointed Rasse in his council. The stormy life of Rasse V ended during a meeting between Hainaut and Flanders supposed to solve border quarrels and that ended into a riot.
Rasse VI (1112-1150), lord of Gavere and Baron of Flanders, married the famous Eve of Chièvres in 1138 and became Peer of Hainaut. He spent most of his life in the castle of Chièvres, whose only remaining tower is nicknamed "Gavere tower". Being Baron of Flanders and Peer of Hainaut, Rasse VI had to obey two suzereigns who were in permanent war. He took the party of Flanders and died during the siege of Rocourt.
Rasse VII (1139-1190), lord of Gavere and Chièvres, Baron of Flanders, Baron and Peer of Hainaut, married in 1161 Mathilde of Liedekerke and became lord of Liedekerke. His seal, used on several charts he signed on behalf of the Count of Flanders, is one of the oldest in Flanders. A fiercy warlord, Rasse VII fought against Count of Hainaut Baudouin IV, aliied with his son Baudouin V against Brabant and Limburg, and eventually supported the Count of Flanders against King of France Philippe-Auguste and the Count of Hainaut.
Rasse VIII (1162-1218) was captured in 1214 during the battle of Bouvines, won by Philippe-Auguste against the Emperor of Germany and the Count of Flanders. His elder son was killed during the battle.
Rasse IX (1185-1241) survived Bouvines. In 1226, he was member of the embassy sent by Countess Jeanne of Flanders to pay the ransom of her husband, Count Ferrand of Portugal. Around 1220, Rasse IX decided to adopt new arms as a tribute to his elder son killed in Bouvines. This is the origin of the three lions still shown on the municipal arms of Chièvres and Liedekerke.
After Rasse IX's death, his nephew Rasse, son of the killed brother, became lord of Gavere and Chièvres and the root of the later lords of Gavere.
Rasse X (1209-1291), lord of Liedekerke, joined the Crusade led by Saint Louis in 1248, together with his brothers Arnoud and Jean. They fought under the banner of the Virgin in the siege of Mansurah and promised to build a chapel if the Virgin helped them. The Virgin appeared riding a white mule, the brothers were saved, came back home and built the Onze Lieve Vrouw ter Muylen (Our Lady with the Mule) chapel in Liedekerke, still the place of a pilgrimage. Aged 77, Rasse X inherited from her mother the town of Breda and the surrounding 50,000 ha.
Rasse XI (1241-1306) fought in the battle of Woeringen together with the Duke of Brabant and his two sons Rasse and Philippe. The modern lineage of Liedekerke stems from Rasse of Liedekerke, aka Rasse I of Herzele (1275-1339), the seventh son of Rasse XI. Charles-Antoine of Liedekerke (1659-1696) was made Count of Liedekerke by Empress Maria-Theresia; the title and the arms were confirmed by King of the Netherlands William in 1816.

Source: Liedekerke family website

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 26 August 2007