Langemark has long been known as the municipality of a bandit called Bakelandt. Bakelandt lived in hiding in the areas of Langemark-Poelkapelle and the Vrijbos at the end of the 18th century as a deserter of the French Army.
Among our Flemish population, tired of living from one (Austrian) to the other (French) occupation, a fiercely suppressed resistance grows, which will explode a few years later in the ‘Boerenkrijg’. The notorious gang leader Bakelandt also lives at that time. Soldier in the French army, deserter, resistance fighter, robber and gang leader. Some folk tales have romanticized the story of Ludovicus Bakelandt. Father Victor Huys has written the most fantastic stories in his much read book, which circulated among the people for a long time. His intention was to give a lecture to the Flemish people, to learn them the aversion for evil. In this way he wanted to make clear to the parents how necessary it is to educate the children well from an early age in order not to breed bandits out of them.
Bakelandt had had a very neglected childhood. He was born on the 17th of January 1774 somewhere near Lendelede. In fact he was an unwanted child, because his father had impregnate his own stepdaughter. From a very early age he was outsourced as a cow keeper, but because nobody was watching over him, he became a thief.. He started to steal a pen at school and when he had to go shopping, he kept more and more money behind. That's how the thief grew inside him.
When he was seventeen, he volunteered to join Napoleon's army. However, he did not stay there for long, because the poorly brought up boy found it difficult to submit to military discipline. So he returned to Belgium, but he was no longer allowed to show himself in Lendelede, where he was now considered a traitor. In this way the outcast got lost and inevitably he became a robber to make a living.
Finally he ended up in a real gang of thieves in Staden. This was a mix up of spinners, weavers, beggars and paupers, who frightened the whole region. They actually took advantage of the disorder in the country to rob and kill. Usually they attacked defenceless people along the road or in their homes.. If they encountered resistance, they were not afraid to abuse their victim or kill them in the worst cases.
The story lasted until August 1802 when he was arrested together with other gang leaders. The scaffold awaited him a year and a half later (November 2, 1803) at the market of Bruges.
In 1982 the first Bakelandt procession took place in the streets of Langemark. Until 1993. From then on the procession went out every three years. It was a historical evocation about Bakelandt's gang and his execution. 1,000 performers - 15 wagons - 106 horses and various musical groups brought popular life to life in the 1800s or the years of the Bakelandt gang. The procession was followed by a large open-air spectacle with the beheading of Bakelandt. Indeed, we speak of the past tense. Because in 2002 the existence of the parade stopped. Now there are still Bakelandt celebrations every three years.
Seasonal workers are inextricably linked to the Madonna village. As a result of economic crisis, men from the village looked for work that they found in the north of France or even further afield. The first seasonal worker left in 1886. Soon many other men went on foot over the French border and even beyond Paris. The first part of the route to Tourcoing,( +/-35km) was made on foot or by bike. As non-French labourer, they had to collect a stamp in Tourcoing. After this first kind of checkpoint, the journey continued with the night train. The destinations were quite different : department of the Marne, the Seine, the Oise and even the Puy-de Dôme.
Over their shoulder, they dried a double bag that weighed about 25kg. On one side were their fresh underwear and some food, on the other side their tools. They called that bag a “baluchon”
They worked 6 1/2 days a week and up to 14 hours a day. At full moon ,they barely slept a few hours.. Only the Sunday afternoon they took some rest. The seasonal worker was paid per hectare. In 1964, seasonal work ended under the influence of increasing mechanisation in agriculture.
Langemark-Poelkapelle has many giants. The best known among them is Celten Den trimard. He represents the seasonal worker. He is married to Josephine La Peule from Coudekerque (Fr) and together they have a daughter who listens to the name Juliënne.
Giant Kamieltn comes from Saint Julian and is married to Emeliete. They have one daughter called Leontientje.
In Poelkapelle you have the giants Tisten and Triene.
Langemark-Poelkapelle is therefore known as a giant-friendly municipality.
For many years now Langemark-Poelkapelle has been profiling itself as the village of storytelling. There are storytelling evenings and also a true festival of storytelling.
La belle Rosselle de Chaumont -le -bois. The song by Willem Vermandere about Godelieve Rosselle from Poelkapelle, who returned to France after she tried to rebuilt a home after the war in Flanders. But it was so hard, she returned with her man to France.
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