Country : Belgium
The arms were granted on June 25, 1823, confirmed on May 25, 1838 and changed on February 2, 1981.
The arms are derived from the arms of Jan van Harelbeke, Lord of Lembeke and some other estates, dating from 1365. The family later received the right to use a modified form of the arms of Constantinople.
The oldest seal of the city dates from 1436 and shows a cross with in each of the cantons (quarters) 4 besants (balls), each with a smaller cross. This composition is derived from the arms of Constantinople and thus the city had adopted the arms of the Counts of Harelbeke. The same composition is seen on the seal from 1789, but several other seals from the 15th-17th century show the besants without the small cross.
Why the city applied for the use of the oldest arms in 1815 is not known, but the request was granted by the Dutch government and confirmed after the Belgian independence of 1830.
The current arms were granted after the merger with Bavikhove and Hulste in 1976. The arms are the proper arms of the oldest Lords of Harelbeke, without the bordure added in 1815. The new arms also show a mural crown, indicating that Harelbeke is (supposedly) the oldest city in Vlaanderen.
Literature: Servais, 1955
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