Historical sitesWar & Peace

The Beggars ... (Steenvoorde, Hill Country)

A piece of important "Vaderlandsche", say Flemish, history took place not far from Hostellerie Kemmelberg **** (the initiator of this website www.top.vlaanderen) : namely in Steenvoorde (now French-Flanders). Steenvoorde is located in the Houtland and borders the Flemish municipality of Watou.

Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023 Also saw the sixth episode of Tom Waes' popular TV series "Het verhaal van Vlaanderen" on Canvas? The focus was on the iconoclasm and the role a milliner, a certain Sebastian Matte from Ypres, and Steenvoorde played in it. The hatter was protected at his sermons by hedges of "Beggars," hence the term "hedge sermons." Hearers of his sermon in Steenvoorde went to the Saint Laurentius Chapel of the Carmelite friary just outside the city and, led by preacher Jacob de Buyzere, smashed the church statues: the iconoclasm had begun! We say and write August 10, 1566, more than 450 years ago.

Speaking of the Beggars and their iconoclasm. Do you know the story of the 3 clergymen who were murdered in 1568? On the interesting web site HistoryFiles we read the following about them: "In early January 1568, the churches of Reningelst, Dranouter, Kemmel and Nieuwkerke, among others, were looted and the contents destroyed or set on fire. The pastor, the chaplain and the spiritual sexton of Reningelst are taken prisoner, mutilated, tortured and horribly murdered by some of the forest goons. A few days later, their frozen bodies are found at Nieuwkerke at the most likely place of martyrdom, then in the middle of the woods. They are buried in the church of Nieuwkerke. Not until April 1923 are the mortal remains of the murdered rediscovered under the church floor, and in 1928 the then pastor Gustaaf Lamerant builds the monumental tomb of the cross on the spot where their remains were first found."

Also on Acorn Street, a crucifix is set up in memory of the 3 murdered "pastors."

In the St. John Baptist Church in Dranouter hangs a work by Peter Soenen, a missionary from Scheut. It was painted in 1947 and is about ... yes, about those 3 "murdered" priests. Below is a black and white shot we took of it.

In the Saint Vedastus Church of Reningelst, bulletins from the 3 murdered clergymen are on display:

Fingerprints of the 3 murdered clergy of Reningelst (St. Vedastus Church).
Fingerprints of the 3 murdered clergy of Reningelst (St. Vedastus Church, Reningelst).

Did you know... that the term "geus" actually comes from French: 'gueux' means pauper or thief.
Did you know... that there is a real Geuzen walk around Nieuwkerke (Heuvelland) ? Do it! See https://www.visitwestvlaande ren.be/geuzenwandelroute.
Did you know... that there is even a Geuzenproject? See https://www.geuze nproject.be/ of vzw Geuzenproject Nieuwkerke. This website gives nice overviews and contains numerous illustrations about life in our region in the 16th century (years 1502 to 1609 to be exact). Too bad that the illustrations of their "Virtual Museum" cannot be viewed in a larger format. Anyway, an interesting source of information.
Did you know... that there are even people who say that in Steenvoorde a real Protestant temple stood?

Tip 1: Don't miss the Steenmeulen and its rural museum of Terdegem visit. These are only a few kilometers from the center of Steenvoorde.

Tip 2: While you're there, visit Cassel and especially the beautiful gardens of the Wouwenberghof.

Tip 3: If you want to know even more about the genesis of French Flanders: visit the Maison de la Bataille 1677 in Noordpene.

Tip 4: Hotel and restaurant Hostellerie Kemmelberg **** is excellently located to discover this region and its rich history 😉.

Indication on the map of Top.Flanders.
Indication on Google Maps.
Official web site of Steenvoorde.
Background information on the forest giants of Heuvelland on HistoryFiles.
Article "1568-2018 3 Martyrs of Reningelst." (Daniel Masure, PDF file)
Page on the series "The Story of Flanders" with Tom Waes (VRT Canvas).
- Link to the 6th episode "Hoe get ik in de hemel?".
Wikipedia page about Sebastiaan Matte.
Wikipedia page about Steenvoorde.
Wikipedia page about the Iconoclast.

The road to Steenvoorde is very well marked 😉
Condition after a storm, photo taken July 11, 2022.

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