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Opglabbeek (Municipality, Province of Limburg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2005-12-03 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Opglabbeek]

Municipal flag of Opglabbeek - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 August 2005

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Presentation of Opglabbeek

The municipality of Opglabbeek (9,100 inhabitants; 2,501 ha) is located in the north-eastern part of Limburg, 10 km north-east of Genk and 15 km of the border with the Netherlands. It is made since 1977 of the former municipalities of Opglabbeek, Louwel and Nieuwe Kempen.

The name of Opglabbeek means that the village is located near (op) a clear (glad) brook (beek). Ancient names of the village were Glatbeke (1219 and 1224), Gladebeke (1239), Opglabbeke (1284), Ghelabbeck (1549), Opgelabbeek (1565), Opgelabeeck (1677) and Opglaebbeck (1722).

In the past, the parishes of Opglabbeek and Neerglabbeek belonged to the Decanate of Maaseik, in the Principality of Liège. Opglabbeek is dedicated to St. Lambert, Bishop of Maastricht and Tongres in 670. The St. Hubert's chapel in Neerglabbeek was ancillary to the church of Opglabbeek. Both were owned by the Counts of Loon.
After his death in 1218, Count Lodewijk II bequeathed the church and the chapel, along with their dependencies, to the Norbertine abbey of Averbode, founded in 1135 by the Counts of Loon. The transfer was officialized in 1219 via a chart written by Lodewijk's brother and successor, Arnold III.

In 1366, the County of Loon was incorporated into the Principality of Liège. The Prince-Bishop commissionned the intendant (drossard) of Stokkem to run the former county. From the Eighty Year's War (1568-1648) to the French Revolution, the former County of Loon was under nearly permanent occupation by foreign troops. The first fortifications in Opglabbeek date back to this period. They were mostly intended to protect the city from the gangs which scoured the region. The civic guard (schutterijen), a kind of municipal police, also dates from this period. After the treaty of Munster (1648), the region was occupied by Charles IV of Lorraine. A bloody fighting between Charles' troops and the Boerenkrijgers (lit. farmer-warriors) took place in December 1648 near Meeuwen, during which 27 inhabitants of Opglabbeek were killed. Peace was reestablished for a short period but war resumed in 1672. The English General John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, commanded the Austrian, English and Dutch troops allied against France. He is still remembered in the local folklore as Malbroek.

After the French Revolution, the Principality of Liège was suppressed and eventually incorporated to the French Republic. In 1798, the mandatory draft imposed by France caused farmers' revolts (Boerenkrijg) all over Belgium; such a revolt took place in Hasselt on 5 December but it does not seem that people from Opglabbeek were involved in the event.
Coal mines were opened in Opglabbeek in the beginning of the XXth century and transormed the village in a typical miners' village. The mines were closed in the 1960s and were replaced by new industrial activities. Opglabbeek is today the hub for the parts business of the Swedish company Scania (commercial vehicles); in 2003, 3.4 millions orders were handled there.

The watermill powered by the brook Bosbeek in Louwel was mentioned for the first time in 1511 as an oil mill. He was destroyed during the Dutch War (1672-1679) and rebuilt in 1685. It was transformed in a restaurant in 1995.
The Blackberry Festival (Brambierfeesten) takes place in Opglabbeek on the second Sunday of September. The local speciality is a blackberry pie called broambiervlaai.
The Theater in the Saddle (Theater in het Zadel) festival takes place on the last Sunday of August in the municipalities of As, Opglabbeek, Zutendaal and Genk. It is a cyclist rally with street theater and gastronomy performances.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 16 August 2005

Municipal flag of Opglabbeek

The municipal flag of Opglabbeek is white with a black diagonal raguly stripe bordered by two thin blue wavy lines.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 15 November 1977 and again on 3 November 1992, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 6 October 1992 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 21 June 1994. It is a banner of the municipal arms.

The municipal arms of Opglabbeek have been used since 1901. They were officially adopted by the Municipal Council on 20 December 1908, confirmed by Royal Decree on 23 August 1909, and published in the Belgian official gazette on 9 September 1909. The description of the arms was modernized by the Municipal Council on 14 July 1993, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 13 October 1993 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 21 June 1994, as:

Van zilver met knoestige rechterschuinbalk van sabel en vergezeld van twee smalle gegolfde schuinbalken van lazuur.

The arms are based on the seal used by the municipal magistrates in the middle of the XVIIth century. The origin of the colours and elements of the arms is unknown.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 16 August 2005