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Lichtervelde (Municipality, Province of West Flanders, Belgium)

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

Municipal flag of Lichtervelde - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 25 June 2006

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Presentation of Lichtervelde

The municipality of Lichtervelde (8,438 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,593 ha) is located 10 km north of Roeselare. The name of Lichtervelde appeared for the first time in 1127 in the description of the murder of Charles the Good, written by the chronicler Galbertus van Brugge. There are different hypotheses on the origin of the name of the town. Some say that Lichtervelde comes from Lifterfelde, from old Dutch lift, "links"; other say it must be read lichte velden, "coloured light"; Verscheurens' dictionary relates Lichtervelde to lichte grond, "light soil". Anyway, the name has nothing to do with small lights seen in the fields. Emigrants from Lichtervelde are said to have found a settlement named Lichterfelde near Berlin but there is no concrete evidence of that.
The north of the municipal territory is mostly a moor area, already settled in the Roman times, as proved by the Roman coins found there in the XIXth century. The lords of Lichtervelde had several fishponds there and peet was extracted. In the second half of the XIXth century, the ponds disappeared and trees, today also disappeared, were planted. The south of the municipal territory has always been a woody area, the Huwynbossen being colloquially called Colpaertse Bossen. These woods disappeared after the Second World War.

The domain of Lichtervelde belonged to the free land (Vrije) of Bruges. The lord's castle was destroyed in 1491 by the troops of the Count of Nassau and again in 1584, together with the church, during the religious unrest. It was never rebuilt and the lords of Lichtervelde lived in Bruges or Ghent from 1600 onwards. In his Flandria Illustrata, published in 1641, Sanderus describes the castle of Lichtervelde, probably on the basis of earlier observations.
The oldest known members of the Lichtervelde family are Sigher van Lichtervelde and his son Walter, who both disappeared during the Crusade in 1205. In 1302, Jan, Pieter and Lodewijk van Lichtervelde fought on the Groeningheveld near Kortrijk during the Battle of the Golden Spurs. The most famous member of the lineage is Jacob van Lichtervelde, who was a main councillor of three Dukes of Burgundy, Philippe le Hardi / Filips de Stoute (1384-1404), Jean sans Peur / Jan Zonder Vrees (1404-1419) and Philippe le Bon / Filips de Goede (1419-1467). Among his titles are Lord of Kortrjik (1391), Lord of Antwerp (1394), Grand Bailiff of Flanders (1396), Envoy of the Duke to England (1404), Governor of Brabant (1409) and Count of Lichtervelde (1411). He died in 1431 and was buried in the church of Koolskamp, the village (today part of the municipality of Ardooie), where he had lived. His vault bears the writing Die van Lichtervelde, Heeren van Coolscamp whereas his tombstone bears the writing Ridder die starf in't jaer 1431, den letsten dagh van Maerte (Knight who died in 1431, on the last day of March).
Around 1400, Marie van Nevele van Lichtervelde married Roger Botelinck, lord of Heule, and Lichtervelde was transferred to the Heule family, that kept it until the end of the XVIth century. Antoon van Heule founded in 1554 the still active St. Sebastian's Ghilde. The Heule were succeeded by the Claerhout in 1600, themselves succeeded by the Haveskercke. Lichtervelde was split in 1622 between the families of Maulde (19/36) and Haveskercke (17/36). In 1744, the part owned by the Maulde came into the hands of Karel Francis van Lichtervelde, so that more than half of Lichtervelde was taken back by the original family. The Haveskercke part was transferred to the Abeele.

Lichtervelde developed at the end of the XIXth century as a busy railway crossroads. The station was inaugurated in 1847, with a branch to Veurne (via Kortemark, Zarren and Diksmuide), opened in 1858, and a branch to Tielt and Ghent, opened in 1877. The yearly horses' market was then very famous. Lichtervelde was severely damaged during the two World Wars.

Felix Callewaert (1862-1918) moved in 1890 from Zwevezele to Lichtervelde, where he set up his clock-making workshop. In Zwevezele, he manufactured accordions with his brother Charles; the production of accordions peaked in Lichtervelde. The former accordion manufacture is today included in a chocolate factory, whose owners have fortunately decided to keep the most striking elements of the former accordion manufacture. The trekzak made in Lichtervelde was extremely popular and was sold in Canada and the United States. After the First World War, Felix' son, Eugène (1894-1944), increased the production of the Lichterveldenaar. He was shot by the Germans during the Second World War, which ended the production of the Callewaert accordions.
The famous inventor Karel Van De Poele (1846-1892) was born in Lichtervelde. Aged 23, he moved to the United States where he specialized in electricity and lighting. He registered hundreds of patents and is the inventor of the trolley system.

Lichtervelde is the birth town of the cyclist Henri "Ritte" Van Lerberghe (1891-1966), the famous winner of the 1919 Tour of Flanders. Van Lerberghe won the fifth stage of Tour de France in Bayonne in 1913 and ranked second in Tour of Flanders in 1914. When Tour of Flanders resumed in 1919, Van Lerberghe came directly from the battlefield of Yser to the start of the race. He had to lend a bicycle and shouted before the start that he would ride all his competitors to hell; they laughed and did not care until Van Lerberghe attacked on the hill of Ichtegem. Arriving close to the finish line in Gentbrugge, he stopped at a pub and ordered "a few" beers; the director of the race finally commissionned Ritte's coach to fetch him in the pub, which was made with a bit of force. Completely drunk, Ritte crossed the finish line walking and told the spectators to go home because he had half a day advance on the others. His advance was indeed 14 minutes, not including those lost in the pub.
In 2004, Lichtervelde was elected "Village of the Tour" and a well-deserved commemorative plaque celebrating Vanlerberghe was inaugurated.

The cyclist Gilbert Desmet (b. 1931), known as Smetje van Lichtervelde was a subtopper (below the top) in the late 1950s - early 1960s. He won several local races, but also Paris-Tours and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (1958), the Flèche Wallonne and the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque (1964); he wore the yellow jersey in Tour de France for two days in 1956 and twelve days in 1963, and ranked fourth in 1962.


Ivan Sache, 25 June 2006

Municipal flag of Lichtervelde

The municipal flag of Lichtervelde is horizontally divided blue-white with the municipal coat of arms in the white part, slightly offset to the top of the flag.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag and arms were adopted by the Municipal Council on 25 September 1986, confirmed by Royal Decree on 10 December 1986 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 3 December 1987.
The colours of the flag are taken from the arms.

The coat of arms of Lichtervelde is "Azure a chief argent seven ermines 4 + 3".
The municipal website says that until the end of the Ancient Regime, the municipality used the arms of the Lichtervelde family, which has in chief two rows of seven and eight ermine spots. In 1841, an administrative mistake made that the coat of arms of Lichtervelde has in chief two rows of four and three ermines; the error was never corrected.

The Gelre Armorial, shows:
- "Azure a chief ermine", for Roger of Lichtervelde (Die He. v. Lichtervelt, #948, folio 80v);
- "Azure a chief ermine (Lichtervelde) a dove rising argent", for Louis of Lichtervelde, lord of Koolskamp (Die H. v. Coolscamp, #967, folio 81v);
- "Halluin, the lions armed and crowned or an escutcheon azure a chief ermine (Lichtervelde)", for Gerard of Halluin, lord of Lichtervelde (v. Haellwyn, #990, folio 82r).
The coat of arms still used by the Lichtervelde family is indeed shown with a chief ermine, that is a non-defined number of ermine spots.
It is possible that the Lichtervelde municipal website misinterpreted the Lichtervelde family arms, since it claims that the "true" arms of Lichtervelde are used by the municipality of Koolskamp (now part of Ardooie, which uses the former Koolskamp arms in the second and third quarters of its arms). Servais indeed shows the arms of Koolskamp with a not-defined number of ermine spots (and gives 7 May 1840 as the date of the grant to Lichtervelde). To make the things even simpler, the arms of Koolskamp also experienced an administrative mistake: the chief was replaced by a white field as height as the blue field in 1824 and the error was not corrected by the grant of 1846.
Anyway, the Lichtervelde 1840-1 mistake was probably the specification of a number of ermine spots in the chief of the arms.

The Lichtervelde family arms have inspired other municipal arms representing places they ruled in the past: Koolskamp, Esen (now part of Diksmuide), Moerzeke (now part of Hamme) and Zarren (now part of Kortemark).

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 25 August 2007