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Baelen (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-10-20 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Baelen]

Municipal flag of Baelen - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 14 June 2005

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Presentation of Baelen and its villages

The municipality of Baelen (4,110 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 8,822 ha) is located in the north-east of the province of Liège, between Limbourg and Eupen. The municipality of Baelen is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Baelen and Membach. The two main villages forming the municipality are surrounded by several secondary villages: Les Forges, Heggen, Honthem, Mazarinen, Néreth, Meuschemen, Oeveren, Overoth and Runschen (Baelen); Haagen, Hestreux, Weper, Berg, Drossart, Straet, Boveroth, Kaikert, Winkel, sur le Moulin, Lousberg, Oe, Gisberg, La Gileppe and Croix-Noire (Membach).

A chart signed by King of Germania Arnulf of Carinthia on 13 June 888 granted the tax on 43 imperial estates (villae) to the Collegiate church of Aachen; among the estates was Bailus, the Latin and oldest known form of Baelen. The estate was located on the Via Mansuerisca, which was used for military and later civil colonization of the region. Some etymologists claim that the name of Baelen is derived from the Roman toponym bajulivus mansus, that is "a farm surrounded by a wall". A more probable hypothesis, supported by geography, relates Baelen to the Celtic roots *bal, "nea"r and *en, "a river"; there is indeed a brook crossing the northern part of Baelen.

In the Middle Ages, Baelen was a haut-ban (Higher Banate) and ruled the neighbouring villages. The Higher Banate of Baelen, incorporated into the County, then Duchy of Limburg, ruled the villages of Baelen, Membach, Henri-Chapelle, Eupen, Limbourg, Goé, Bilstain and Welkenraedt. Baelen had a court exercizing civil and penal justice on behalf of the Duke of Limburg; the most important criminal cases were addressed by the Higher Court of Limburg.
In 1648, the domain of Baelen was purchased by the family Bertolf from Belven. The last lord of Baelen was Lambert-François of Pirons (1728-1794), son of the rich merchant from Verviers Jacques-Antoine Pirons (1685-1757), who purchased Baelen from the Bertolf family. He owned the castle of Baelen, located today not in the municipality of Baelen but in Ruyff, in the former municipality of Henri-Chapelle (Welkenraedt). In 1875, the castle was bought by the Alexian (Hieronymites) order and used as a lunatic asylum.
The parish of Baelen belonged until the French Revolution to the abbey of Rolduc, located near Kerkrade (today in Dutch Limburg). This was confirmed by a particular chart signed in 1178 by Philip I, Archbishop of Cologne.

The marble of Baelen has been used since the XII-XIIIth century to make pavements, fireplaces, lintels, angle facings, tombstones and funerary monuments.

The Bird Shooting (Tir à l'Oiseau) takes place every year in June in Baelen. The sharpshooter able to reach the bird is appointed Shooting's King (Roi du Tir) for the next year. During the official celebrations, the King shall bear a silver chain, whose design dates back to the foundation of the shooting society. The Bird Shooting ends with the flag game (jeu du drapeau), a specific flag handling including thirty figures repeated three times, alternatively with the right and left arm. The flag is black, mauve and yellow and is made of silk from Lyon. The staff is 2 m long and its end bears a lead counterweight, so that the flag player (alfère) can rotate the flag on different parts of his body and in the air.

Source: Baelen website, by Arno Baelen

Ivan Sache, 14 June 2005

Municipal flag of Baelen

The municipal flag of Baelen is horizontally divided white-red with a rose in canton.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 21 February 1979 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 18 December 1991 (sic), with the following description:
Coupé blanc sur rouge, chargé d'une rose [héraldique] au canton.

The colours of the flag and the rose are derived from the municipal arms:
De gueules chapé-ployé d'argent à trois roses de l'un à l'autre, boutonnées du champ et barbées de sinople.
These arms belonged to the Pirons family.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 12 June 2005