Last modified: 2005-11-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: flemalle | wave (white) | pickax (yellow) | discs: 6 (yellow) |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
Municipal flag of Flémalle - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 5 May 2005
The municipality of Flémalle (25,203 inhabitants; 3,668 hectares) is constituted since 1976 by the former municipalities of Awirs (2,869 inh.), Cahottes (1,277 inh.), Flémalle-Grande (5,527 inh.), Flémalle-Haute (6,615 inh.), Ivoz-Ramet (5,484 inh.) and Mons-lez-Liège (3,431 inh.).
Flémalle is built on both sides of the river Meuse, southwest (upstream) of Liège; the site has been inhabited since the Prehistoric times. The place was in the past covered with meadows and forests, and vine was grown on the hillsides exposed to sunlight. Watermills were built on the brooks, at least since 1102. A limited industrialization started in the XVth century; powerful families built castles, of which seven have been preserved until now. After a troubled period, industrialization resumed in the XVIth century with the opening of breweries, tanneries, pipe factories and shipyards. Since then, industries have flourished on the banks of the Meuse whereas arable lands, woods and nature reserves are present elsewhere.
Awirs was known in the XIth century as Auguria and one century later
as Aquiria. Both names refer to water (in Latin, aqua). There were in
the past 14 wartermills in the village; the oldest of them was known as
Huwes' mills, after his builder Hugues of Awirs, the first lord d'Aigremont.
The castle of Aigremont is located halfway between Liège and Huy. A legend says the castle was built by the Four Aymon Sons. The chanson de geste Les Quatre Fils Aymon, aka Renaud de Montauban, written at the end of the XIIth century, tells the tale of four vassals of Charlemagne who revolted against the Emperor. The central chapters of the very complicated story take place in the Ardenne forest, where the Aymons fight a knight named Beuve d'Aigremont; the chanson was very famous and some of his characters such as the magician Maugis and the horse Bayard were very popular in the Middle-Ages. Anyway, the castle of Awirs was a big fortress that depended on the Church of Liège. In 1715, Mathias de Clerck, a Canon from the St. Lambert's Collegiate Church, bought the domain of Awirs and built the modern castle of Aigremont in Renaissance style; the castle is decorated with Italian-like wall paintings and has a formal garden.
Philippe-Charles Schmerling, practitioner and Professor at the University of Liège, founder of human paleontology, discovered in Awirs remains of an archaic man. He was not believed until the findings of the remains of the Man of Neanderthal and of the Man of Spy (now in Jemeppe-sur-Sambre), but his scientifical books strongly influenced Charles Darwin.
Chokier, today a borough of Awirs, is mentioned as Calcaria in a chart dated 1086. This name is probably related to a lime oven. It was then a wealthy village with wine-growers, a brewer, a tank maker, a blacksmith and inns. The castle of Chokier was built on a rocky spur dominating the Meuse. It was besieged several times, to no avail, until the XIVth century, when the inhabitants of Huy seized it and trashed it. The modern castle built on the site of the feudal fortress is still there.
Cahottes was a hamlet depending on Horion-Hozémont until 1977. The village has a nature reserve settled by several species of birds. The parish of Cahottes seceded from Hozémont in 1846.
Among the several names given to Flémalle-Grande in the past, the most
significant is Fledismamalacha, meaning "a flow of powerful water".
There was in the past in the city a spring delivering a water similar
to the famous Spa water.
In year 188, a Roman century settled in the site where the village of Flémalle would develop later. Until the end of the XIIth century, the village was shared among several lords. In 1173, the Hospitalers Knights of Jerusalem were given some of these domains and built an Hospital, which was partially destroyed during the Religious Wars in the XVth century. The hospital was later replaced by a castle, eventually suppressed in 1956.
The fort of Flémalle-Grande was built by Brialmont in 1888 to watch the Meuse and the access to Namur. The fort defenders surrender to the Germans on 16 August 1914, one day after the tragic seizure of the fort of Loncin in Ans. The fort is today a museum.
Flémalle-Haute (lit., Upper-Flémalle) is nicknamed La Petite Flémal' (The Little Flémalle) as opposed to Flémalle-Grande (The Great
Flémalle). Before the XVIth century, the village was owned by the
Chapter of the St. Peter's Collegiate Church in Liége. A castle was
built in the XVIIth century, which is today the seat of the municipal
administration of Flémalle.
The village is dominated by the "red lands", which are rubble of the industrial calcination of alumiferous schists required to produce alum (XVIth-XIXth centuries). One century ago, coniferous trees were planted on the red lands, which give an odd southern touch to the village.
Ivoz-Ramet is made of the three feudal domaines of Ivoz, Ramet and Remioul. Ivoz intially belonged to the St. Lambert's cathedral, which sold it in 1261 to the Val St. Lambert's abbey. Ramet belonged to the Chapter of the St. Paul Collegiate Church. Remioul was a free domain (franc-alleu), which belonged in the XIth century to Godefroid de Bouillon. The domain of la Châtaigneraie in Ivoz shows 93 works by the Belgian sculptor Marceau Gillard (1904-1987). Gillard was born in France but spent most of his life in Flémalle; he was Professor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts from 1949 to 1970.
Mons-lez-Liège developed around a castle, which was burnt to ashes in 1318, revamped and damaged again in 1568, revamped again and totally destroyed in 1637. The castle was rebuilt from scratch in 1659 and lost a wing in 1934. Remains of Roman tiles and bricks were found near the church, which might indicated that a Roman estate (villa) existed there.
The most famous citizen of Flémalle is the XVth century painter known as the Master of Flémalle, named after three paintings of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt that were supposed to have come from Flémalle. Unfortunately, there is today a strong consensus of scholarly opinion that he is to be identified with Robert Campin (active 1406-44), who was the leading painter of his day in Tournai but none of whose documented pictures survive. The most famous work associated with the Master of Flémalle is the Mérode Altarpiece (Metropolitan Museum, New York), and he is indeed sometimes referred to as the Master of Mérode. However, the attribution of this painting has also been questioned. Among the other works generally accepted as his are The Marriage of the Virgin (Prado, Madrid), The Nativity (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon), and The Virgin and Child before a Firescreen (National Gallery, London). In spite of the many problems that still surround him, he emerges as a very powerful and important artistic personality.
Ivan Sache, 5 May 2005
The municipal flag of Flémalle is red, divided by a white ascending wavy diagonal, with a yellow pickaxe in canton and six yellow discs placed 3+2+1 in lower fly.
The official description of the flag, as given in Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, is:
Rouge chargé d'une barre ondée blanche accompagnée à la hampe d'un pic d'alunier, et au large de six besants rangés 3,2 et 1, le tout jaune.
The flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 18 June 1991 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 18 December 1991. It is a banner of the municipal arms. The wavy stripe represents the river Meuse, the alum miner's peakaxe recalls the industrial past of the city, and the six discs form a grape recall the ancient vineyards as well as the six former municipalities constituting Flémalle.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 5 May 2005