On Liebaarts and Leliaarts

In a situation of conflict, at least two parties face each other. In 1302 these were called the Liebaarts and the Leliaarts.


The supporters of the count of Flanders were called the Liebaarts. The word has a heraldic origin and means as much as lion or leopard. The coat of arms of the count of Flanders depicts a black lion on golden field. In the beginning only the Flemish nobility supported the count. As feudal lord, he tried to limit the power of the cities as much as possible. The commoners became Liebaarts at the French occupation of Flanders. At that time their strive was the same as that of the count: to keep Flanders free of French occupation.


This was the name of the supporters of the French king and French affairs in Flanders. The name is derived from the golden lilies on blue field in the French king's coat of arms. The Leliaarts used the lily as ornament in their houses and this primarily caused them this name. Most of them were rich patricians who had trade monopolies and therefore didn't wish the count's interference in their business. Therefore they turned directly towards the French king.

So what about Klauwaarts?

Klauwaarts is believed to be a younger word. At the time of the Battle of Courtrai, only the word Liebaarts was used. Klauwaarts refers to the claws on the lion in the coat of arms of the Flemish count. But the difference between a "liebaart" and a lion as it exists now in modern heraldry did not exist at that time. This difference only started mid 14th century.

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Copyright on text, images and photos by Joris de Sutter, unless noted otherwise.
This information is provided by De Liebaart and was last updated on March 30th 2001.