The name, some claim, comes from the Latin Capriacum which meant "the estate of Caprius". In front of a beautiful town hall there is the rectangular Grand' Place, the village green that once upon a time might or might not have been a Roman camp. Sofar no proof of such a Roman presence has been found here. The oldest document mentioning "Capric" dates from 1233. A few years later Joan of Constantinopel granted some privileges to the town and promoted it to city.
|The town hall with the
church behind it.
Picture of 25/1/2004.
During the 14th and 15th Century the cloth industry flourished here but the religious troubles of the second half of the 16th Century had a devastating effect on Kaprijke and many other towns and not only in our Meetjesland but all over Flanders. The weavers and cloth merchants withdrew to safer regions and most of them didn't return when calm was restored many years later.
|Two lovely cottages in the Vrouwstraat. ("Vrouw" means woman). They look like they come straight out of a fairy tale. Congratulations and many thanks to those who keep them up so well.
During the 17th and 18th Century Kaprijke descended from the status of a city back to a rural town. There were the farms and there was the linen industry which kept many people busy especially during the long Winter months. This downgrading became official in 1795. Until then the officials in politics and in the administration always proudly spoke about Kaprijke as the "stede, keure ende vryhede" (city, charter and freedom). In that fateful year 1795 the French imposed their law and Kaprijke was officially downgraded to a "commune", French for town or municipality because it had less than 5000 inhabitants.
Kaprijke was not spared during the two World Wars. And on 22 November 1945, more than a year after the liberation by the Canadians there came a terrible reminder. Five boys, all born in 1932 or '33, made off with a weapon. But the prank they had in mind went horribly wrong: in the Eindeken Road the thing exploded and Medard Claeys, Firmin De Baets, Julien Teerlinck, Gilbert Van Heule and Robert Van Vooren died instantly. On the spot where it happened there still is a tiny little chapel.
Kaprijke is the birthplace of Dr. Hippoliet van Peene (° 1/1/1811 - † Ghent 19/2/1864). He was a playwright and poet. One of the poems he wrote was entitled "the Flemish Lion". This in due course became the Flemish National anthem.
|Kaprijke church on
23 November 2003
Kaprijke has a beautiful castle called Hof ter Kruisen ("hof" = farm and "kruis" = cross. It is surrounded by a moat. It was commissioned by Andries of Baviere and built around 1550. A stone in the stepped gable bears the inscription 1628, the year when it was finished. Over the centuries it came into the Hauweel and Isebrant families. In 1751 it was sold to the Maelcamp family which is the owner to this day, although it now looks unoccupied. It is a brick building with sandstone used sparingly. When I went to make a picture of it, the bull who guards the place in a calm and dignified way, came sauntering up to the iron gate to see what I was up to.
In 1976 Kaprijke and Lembeke were merged and
this new entity now has about 6200 inhabitants... enough for a Medieval (and revolutionary
The source of most of the above is the excellent "Streekgids Meetjesland" (Regional Guide Meetjesland), 1998, pp. 60-63 by Roger Buyck. See also: Our Sources.
for more pictures
made in Kaprijke between 1962 and 1975
by Mr. Romano Tondat.