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Zoersel (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

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[Flag of Zoersel]

Municipal flag of Zoersel - Image by Jarig Bakker, 5 October 2001

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Presentation of Zoersel

The municipality of Zoersel (20,803 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,865 ha) is located in Kempen, west of Antwerp. The municipality of Zoersel is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Zoersel and Halle, together with the borough of Sint-Antonious, transferred from Brecht.

Zoersel, a village of Frankish origin, was mentioned for the first time in 1240, as Surcele, "an estate built on acid soil". The village belonged in the Middle Ages to the domain of Westmalle, itself part of the County of Antwerp. In 1233, Duke of Brabant Henri I transferred Westmalle, including the Hooidonck wood, to the Cistercian abbey of Villers. In 1236, a new chart prescribed the building of a new abbey dedicated to St. Bernard and the complete protection of the wood, to be used as a hunting reserve by the Duke, who remained its sole owner.
However, the soil was too poor and the monks of Villers never built the St. Bernard abbey; rather, they cleared the Hooidonck wood in the XIII-XIVth century to get more arable land. To house the noble hunters, the monks set up a hunting lodge, progressively transformed to a farm known as "the big farm of Hooidinck".

Halle was mentioned for the first time in 1181; the village was often called 's Graven-Halle or Mager-Halle, for distinction from the bigger town of Halle, Brabant. In 1505, Philip the Handsome sold Halle to Pieter van der Maelen, already lord of Westmalle-Zoersel. Transferred in 1520 to the Cottereau family, Halle was reincoporated to the Imperial domain under Charles V, and sold again to Adriaan Brouwerts, lord of Massenhoven and Viersel and Knight of the Golden Fleece, in 1644.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 5 January 2008

Municipal flag of Zoersel

The municipal flag of Zoersel is yellow with a red chevron cantonned with three red lions.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 24 March 1988 and, again, on 23 February 1989, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 9 May 1989 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 November 1989.
The colour of the flag field and the lions comes from the former arms of Zoersel, while the chevron comes from the former arms of Halle.

According to the municipal website, the modern arms of Zoersel, "Per pale, 1. Or a lion gules, 2a. Argent a chevron gules cantonned with three rush sheaves vert 2b. Argent an eagle sable armed and langued gules", are the combination of the former arms of Zoersel (dexter) and Halle (sinister).
The former arms of Zoersel, "Or a lion gules", granted by Royal Decree on 3 June 1913, are the arms of the last lords of Zoersel. In 1740, Zoersel and Westmalle were purchased by Jacob Powis, born Jacques-Benoît Pauwens, Secretary of the Council of Brabant and ennobled by Charles VI, who allowed him to change his name to Powis. The arms of Powis were granted to the municipality of Westmalle by (Dutch) Royal Decree on 6 October 1819, confirmed by (Belgian) Royal Decree on 30 april 1839. On 17 March 1913, Baron van Powis ten Bossche allowed the municipality of Zoersel to use his family arms.
The former arms of Halle, "Quarterly, argent a chevron gules cantonned with three rush sheaves vert, argent an eagle sable armed and langued gules", granted by Royal Decree on 25 October 1954, are the arms of the last lords of Halle. The Uilens family purchased Halle in 1720 and kept it until the French Revolution. In 1693, Charles II ennobled Frans-Godfried, Jan-Baptist and Hendrik Uilens as a reward for the support of their father during the battle of Kallo (1638). The Uilens arms were used on the municipal seal of Halle on 16 October 1779.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 5 January 2008

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