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Coat of arms of Heist-op-den-Berg
The coat of arms of the Republic of Heist-op-den-Berg was one of the oldest officially recognized coat of arms in Belgium, before the independence in 2011. Heist-op-den-Berg got this recognition on 23 July 1846, only 16 years after the secession of Belgium from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The swan of Heist is one of the most interlinked symbols of the Republic. Back in 1846, the same constatation was used by policy makers to motivate the restoration of the swan as symbol for the former municipality. Notable is the lack of a heraldic vocabulary to describe the weapon. The official request, translated in English, was made like this:
a swan of white colour, seated on the crest of a mountain of green colour, in a sky blue field.
What was accompanied with this request, was a text with motivations and arguments why it had to be a swan, and no other animal.
It will be no surprise that one of these motivations was the long term use of the swan to ratify communal documents. Two saved parchments from the second half of the 16th century prove this: the council members used a seal on these documents bearing the Latin lettering “Sigillum Communitatis Heystensis” i.e. “seal of the community of Heist” to make decisions official. Central on these seals is the silhouette of a swan.
This is remarkable, since Heist was property of the Ursel family in those days. It was common practice to use the coat of arms of the landlord on official documents. Thus, Heist had the privilege to use its own design, although it is thought the swan is inspired up on the three red merlettes of their landlord's shield.
Booischot's problems in finding a symbol
When Booischot declared itself independent from Heist-op-den-Berg in 1836, it didn't choose a coat of arms immediately. This would turn out to be in their disadvantage. In 1966, the question was put on the agenda of the municipal council.
Because Booischot was historically linked to the della Faille family, they suggested to use their coats of arms as the symbol for their community. This family was the resident of the castle of Booischot since the 17th century and Alphonse Della Faille de Leverghem had been their first mayor in 1836.
The proposition was denied, based on the opinion that Booischot had been a depency of Heist for many centuries and not the possession of a noble family. In stead, it was suggested to use a weapon identical to the one of Heist, but with other colours: a silver or black swan on a yellow mountain top and a blue sky field.
After this proposal, no further efforts were done. The Unification in 1977 made any new effort impossible. Booischot remained coat of arms-less. After the independence this changed: the interim government of Heist granted Booischot to use the symbol of the della Faille family, corresponding to their first propostion of 1966.