Short history of Boechout-Vremde.
by Jos Smits
The oldest document mentioning Boechout is dated 974 AD. The spelling of its name in this document is: Buocholt. With this record the German Emperor Otto II does restitution to the monks of the St.-Baafs-abbey at Ghent of "the villa Buocholt with its church and dependences" after they had been lost by them during the invasions of the Vikings in the course of the 9th century. The dependences were: the administration of the church and the tithes in the parish.
The church, built by the monks, was and still is devoted to saint Bavo, monk of the same order and donor of his domain in Brabant to the abbey. The possessions of the St.-Baafs-abbey at Boechout were administrated by its levy court "Het Hof van Sombeke". The oldest farm of St.-Baafs was without doubt the farm "on the cemetery", starting point of the exploitation of the town and the foundation of the church.
Next to the St.-Baafs-abbey the St.-Bernards-abbey at Hemiksem was an important landowner at Boechout.
The land of the duke of Brabant at Boechout was given as a fief to the family Berthout, lords of Malines and Berlaar.
After having been transferred temporarily as war boaty to Lodewijk van Male, count of Flanders, in the 14th century, the domain of Boechout came under the rule of Cantincrode (Mortsel).
Following families came in the possession of the domain of Boechout during the next centuries: van Ranst, Granvelle, Peckius, van den Cruyce, Stockmans, van Baerland, Courtois and van Colen till the end of the Ancien Regime when the French abolished all domanial rights. The castle of Boechout from the 15th century is a marvelous example of the walled fortified castles from our history.
Several times the lords of Boechout got in conflict situations with the abbots of St.-Baafs, who were at the same time bishops of Ghent, about the authority of their respective aldermen's courts.
During the religion troubles of the 16th century, the revenge actions of the "gueux" in the 17th century, during th succession wars between France and Spain Boechout got its part of the violence and of the war contributions.
A volunteer brigade was formed in Boechout during the Brabant Revolution (1789-90) against the Austrian rule.
French rule (1794-1814) brought Boechout under the "Departement des Deux Nethes". During the "Boerenkrijg" (Farmers war, 1798) 600 armed revolting country men forced the French troups to a retreat after an open battle at the border of Boechout and Mortsel.
Here the author of the Belgian national anathem "Brabanconne", Jenneval, died in 1830 when he with Belgian Revolutionaires tried to march from Lier to Antwerp.
The two world wars of the 20th century made several victims at Boechout as well military as civilians. The V-bombs campaign at the end of world war II remains a terrible memory for the people of Boechout.
Important people with Boechout roots are Jan Frans Willems "the father of the Flemish Movement", Jef Van Hoof, an important Flemish composer and Monseigneur Engelbert Sterckx, the 19th century archbishop of Malines, who was a priest at Boechout in his younger age.
In 1977 Vremde has been attached to Boechout.
Vremde has been founded probably also by the abbey of St.-Baafs at Ghent. There indeed exists a donation record from Emperor Hendrik II, dated 1003, in which "Frimethe" (the oldest spelling of Vremde) was restituted to these abbey. To the jurisdiction of Vremde also belonged an important part of the former parish Millegem, now part of Ranst. It is after the French Revolution only that the parish and town limits were fixed on their present situation.
An important fact in the history of Vremde is the donation in 1236 by Gillis Berthout, lord of Berlaar, to the abbot of Villers, of several important pieces of land at Vremde and in its surroundings in order to build an abbey on it as the central place to run a farming business. Whereas the monks soon abandonned the project and moved to Hemiksem, where an abbey "St.-Bernards-on-Schelt" was founded, an important part of the land and farms of Vremde stayed in the hands of that abbey.
The domain of Vremde was succesively in the possession of the families Berthout, van Ranst, Bau, Cortenbach, van Rommerswael and van der Gracht. In 1660 it became a barony.
During many years (1748-1755) a trial was held up before the "Raad van Brabant" over the delimitation of the borders of Boechout and Vremde.
The phantom of a merger with Boechout appeared again during the French rule (1794-1814), because the town council of Vremde refused to appoint a "maire", who should apply the French laws in the town.
Finally the unavoidable took place in 1977.
J. Jacobs: "Bijdragen tot de Geschiedenis van Boechout", Gemeentebestuur Boechout 1973.
A. Belloy: "Heemkundig Handboekje voor de Antwerpse Randgemeenten: Vremde", Jg XI, nr. 4, Borgerhout 1963.
J.B. Stockmans: "Geschiedenis der Gemeente Mortsel, met aanhangsels over Edeghem, Hove, Bouchout, Borsbeeck, Contich, Waerloos, Reeth en Aertselaer", Antwerpen 1882.
R. Moretus: "Het kasteel en de heerlijkheid van Bouchout", Natuur- en stedenschoon, Maandschrift der Vereniging voor Natuur- en Stedenschoon, dl XVII, 1938, blz. 86-89.
A.E. Verhulst: "De St.-Baafs-abdij te Gent en haar grondbezit (VI-e-XIV-e eeuw), Brussel 1958.
Werkgroep Geschiedenis van Boechout-Vremde: "Jaarboeken 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003", Gemeentebestuur Boechout, Heemkring Het Speelhof.