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Friday, 11 January 2013

City of MAASEIK HERALDIC SHIELD | Carved Shield in Wood | City Arms Carved in Wood | HERALDIC WOODCARVER

The City of MAASEIK Heraldic Shield Carved in Wood

City of Maaseik coat of arms carved in wood

On the left:  10 crossbeams with alternately golden and gules (red) cross pieces
On the right:  An oak tree on a piece of meadow, accompanied on the shield by three shortened crosses.

In heraldry, a coat of arms is a symbol linked to a person, a family, a town or state, or a group of people (e.g. guild). Traditionally it was depicted on a shield. The use of a coat of arms is called “bearing” a coat of arms.
The coat of arms was later expanded to include the helmet, containing an emblem, and a torse of the mantling. Furthermore, it was also displayed on other visible parts, in order to clearly make a distinction during battle and to link property to a person.

Nowadays escutcheons aren’t only used by families, but also as a symbol for a nation, a town, a municipality or a province. A flag depicting the coat of arms is called a banner.


Heraldic City Arms

Heraldic Shield of a City

This is the oldest known Coat of Arms of Maaseik (1581) In the oval, it reads:

 “In full, the inscription most likely read: NOSTRUM SIGILLUM OPPIDI EYCKENSIS SUPRA MOSAM : Our seal of the (fortified) town of Maaseik on the river Meuse.  

In that case, NO should have an apostrophe, as well as SY. There was no distinction between Y and I. Maaseik can therefore also be translated as “of Eyck”. An oppidum is a walled town.”

city arms carved in wood

Painters Hubert and Jan van Eyck, born in maaseik
The City of Maaseik (Belgium)

As its name would suggest, Aldeneik is older than Maaseik. Although there are a lot of toponyms referring to the many oaks, the word eyck is similar to the German word 'ecke', which means 'corner'. Old bend may be linked to the fact that historically, the Meuse formed a bend around the village. Throughout the whole Meuse region, the course of the Meuse has always shifted slowly. 
This happened also in Heppeneert, a hamlet just south of Maaseik. The old course of the Meuse is still clearly seen there.
Aldeneik was established by Adelard, a local Frankish lord, around 700 AD, as a Benedictine monastery. His two daughters, Herlindis and Relindis, both became abbesses of the monastery and eventually became saints. The religious center of Aldeneik soon became the focal point of a small community.

The monastery suffered heavy destruction by the Normans in the 9th century. Around 950, emperor Otto I gave the monastery to the Bishop of Liège, who delegated the administrative tasks to a local chapter of canons.

 Middle Ages

Maaseik, Nieuw-Eycke ('new oak'), was founded out of Aldeneik, around 1000. It lay near the Roman road between Maastricht and Nijmegen and safe above the valley of the Meuse. Besides, it bordered the County of Loon in the north; that's why this village got its City charter in 1244. 
The village began to grow. It became one of the most important trading places of the Meuse region.

As is typical in such towns, the four main streets begin at the market-place square. On this market place stands a statue of the famous painters Hubert and Jan van Eyck, who were (probably) born in Maaseik in 1390. The oldest private pharmacy of Belgium is also on the market square. The rectangular shape of the city walls is also typical. On the west side of the city, a castle was built against the wall.

The walls were dismantled in 1467, when Charles the Bold attacked the Prince-Bishopric of Liège during the Liège Wars and destroyed many cities in the region. Maaseik was also besieged in 1672 by Louis XIV. The city burned in 1650 and 1684; the last fire destroyed 1/3 of the entire city, included the historic center. 
After that the Maaseikenaars built stone houses instead of wooden ones. During the iconoclastic period, Maaseik almost became independent, but Gerard van Groesbeek was able to calm the people.

 16th century until now

In the 16th and 17th century the economy reached its high point, thanks to Maaseik's advantageous location between Liège and the sea. Its commercial activity remained strong until the second half of the 17th century, when the regional power of Liège started to fade. 

During all that time, Maaseik was still a dependence of the chapter of canons in Aldeneik. Just before the French Revolution, no fewer than six religious institutes were still present in the city.

The walls were rebuilt in the 16th century and strengthened by Vauban in the following century. 

After the French retreat in 1815, however, the military installations were gradually taken down. Only the south section of the embankment remains. Names of the old city gates (e.g., Bospoort, Maaspoort) recall the time when the city was walled. In 2007, remains of a tower were found during excavation for an underground parking garage. This tower was part of the castle.

Heraldic Wood Carver Patrick Damiaens

Heraldic Woodcarving, Family Coat of Arms and
Heraldry carved in Wood


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