Last modified: 2005-11-12 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Aubange - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 May 2005
The municipality of Aubange (14,562 inhabitants; 4,591 ha) is located on the border of
Belgium, France and Luxembourg, 15 km south of Arlon (Belgium), 20 km
south-west of Luxembourg, and 5 km north of Longwy (France). It is made since 1977
of the former municipalities of Athus, Aubange, Aix-sur-Cloie,
Battincourt, Guerlange, Halanzy and Rachecourt.
The geography of the region is caracterised by a succession of crests (called in geography "cuestas", in French còtes) and valleys. The two main cuestas are the Messancy-Aubange-Dippach cuesta and the Longwy-Differdange cuestas, separated by the valley of Vire. The cuestas are gashed by the rivers Chiers and Messancy and their tributaries.
Aubange is part of the Agglomération Transfrontalière du Pôle Européen de Développement, which groups some 120,000 inhabitants (17 municipalities from France, three from Belgium and one from Luxembourg) since the agreement signed on 29 October 1993 by the governments of the three countries.
In the XIth century, Aubange depended on Rodange, itself depending on the lordship of Longwy. The lords of Aubange, mentioned in 1260, seem to be a junior branch of Rodange. In 1280, Aubange was probably granted the law of Beaumont along with the other communities of the lordship of Longwy. A document dated 11 April 1299 describes the domain of Clémarais as a ménandie (manor with a feudal domain and the associated rights) with ditches, river, gardens and orchards. In the XIVth century, the lords of Rodange, lacking money, sold parts of their domain to the lords of Autel. The castle of Clémarais was probably built for the marriage of Aleyde d'Autel with Renal de Mercy before 1373. Following the marriage, Aubange became an independant domain. The first known lord of Clémarais was Jean de Mercy (1422); in 1477, Roger de Mercy aka the Valorous was appointed Captain and Provost of Longwy by Duke René II of Lorraine. Progressively, the lords of Clémarais increased their domain, incorporating parts of Aix-sur-Cloie, Battincourt and Piémont. A castle named Claimaraix is mentioned in a document dated 3 March 1612, as a possession of Anne de Landres, widow of Jean de Mercy.
In 1670, Louis XIV occupied Lorraine and ordered the suppression of all
the fortresses near Longwy. At that time, the only remains of the
former fortress of Clémarais were the tower and the ice cellar, which
might have been destroyed then. By the treaty of Nijmegen, the
Provostship of Longwy, including Aubange and Clémarais, was ceded to
France. In 1683, Anne, Countess d'Argenteau and widow of the Count
d'Allamont, sold Clémarais to Toussaint de Papigny. The Papigny family
ruled Clémarais until 1826.
In 1718, Aubange and Clémarais were reincorporated to the Duchy of Lorraine, whereas Longwy and ten neighbouring villages remained French. In 1769, Aubange was incorporated to the Duchy of Luxembourg; after the French Revolution and the invasion of the Low Countries, Aubange was reincorporated to France in 1794.
On 24 August 1826, Joseph-Léopold de Papigny passed away and bequeathed Clémarais to his cousin Hippolyte de Mathelin, provided he changed his name for Mathelin de Papigny. In 1844, Hippolyte de Mathelin de Papigny married the German Baroness Laure d'Huart. Mathelin was elected Provincial Councillor in 1866 and Permanent Deputee in 1872. After his death in 1881, Clémarais was owned jointly by the Knight of Corswaren and "Miss Louise", Hippolyte's junior daughter. Miss Louise lived alone in Clémarais and took care of sick and needy people in Aubange, until her death in 1915. Corswaren sold Clémarais to Georges Cahen, a merchant from Arlon. The domain was further split several times; in 1968, the municipality of Aubange bought a wing and lands of the former castle, which were transformed into a sport center.
Athus was until the end of the XVIIth century a poor hamlet with no
more than six farms. In 1656, iron and steel industry developed in the
south of Luxembourg and the industrialists took the power out of the
hands of the poor and hated local lords. The first smelting furnaces,
powered with charcoal, were built in Athus at that time. However, they
were not very producive and seem to have been abandoned at the end of
the XVIIIth century.
In 1872, iron ore, locally called minette, was found in Athus, and the smelting factory was rebuilt and boosted the development of the city. Athus became an independant municipality in 1877. The factory was closed in 1977.
Aix-sur-Cloie had 200 communicants in 1570, but its priest lived in
Halanzy. The lords of Aix were the Counts de Reiffenberg, of Austrian
origin, who settled in Aix under Maria Theresa and rebuilt the castle
destroyed in 1604. Count F.A.F.T. de Reiffenberg (1795-1850) was
Professor of Philosophy with the Universities of Leuven and Liège, member of the Royal Academy of Belgium and Curator of the Royal Library
in Brussels. His son, Count F.G.E.C.M. de Reiffenberg wrote several
poems, articles, novels, theater plays etc.
The castle of Aix was sold in 1860 to a farmer who suppressed it in 1866 in order to build two modern farms. A legend says that a treasure is hidden in a souterrain of the former castle.
Battincourt (in German, Battem am Lacht) belonged to Lorraine until
1769, when the former domain of Bettenhoven was ceded to the Lower
Countries. The ancient Roman fort was suppressed in 1167, rebuilt, and
destroyed in 1558 by the French troops heading to Arlon. There were 87
cases of typhus fever in Battincourt in 1884.
The archives of the villages were kept by Lothe de Battincourt. In 1830, a bad guy spread a rumor saying that Lothe owned all the title deeds for Battincourt and was about to expropriate all the inhabitants of the village. The inhabitants of the village forced Lothe to burn everything in his bread oven, which burned for three days.
Guerlange might have been settled by the ancient Celts in 800-200 BC. The place name Belleshecken might be read Bel's edges, Bel being a Celtic god. Gerlanda, mentioned in 1145, might have been a fortress built in Guerlange. In 1544, the village was trashed and burnt down by the French troops; a thunderstorm destroyed all the crops in 1568 and caused a famine. Durign the Thirty Years' War, black plague killed all the inhabitants of Guerlange in 1636. The village had 117 inhabitants in 1821. In 1860, the old cemetary was deemed insalubrious and a new one was built; however, the inhabitants of Guerlange refused to bury their dead in the new cemetary until 1922. The village had 130 inhabitants in 1957. Guerlange belonged to the municipality of Messancy until the 1977 reform, when it was incorporated to Aubange. The village has today 300 inhabitants.
Halanzy (in Gaume Walloon, Halazi ; in Luxembourgian, Hoeldang) is
built along the road Aubange-Athus. The name of the village does not
come from French Allons-y! (Let's go!), as claims the popular etymology
refering to the famous local iron-bearing sources. Halanzy was
mentioned in 893; the family of Halanzy ruled the domain and lived in a
castle. In 1316, Halanzy was granted the law of Beaumont. In 1719, a
big blaze destroyed 14 houses and the castle. In the 1720s, the village
escaped an epidemic of cholera. As a reward, the Jacob family built the
chapel Notre-Dame des Grâces in 1725. Every newborn in the village
shall be presented to the statue of the Blessed Virgin standing in the
In 1733, Jean Hutlet exploited a mine in Halanzy; he was found death, crushed by a stone fall, in 1739. Industrial exploitation of the mines started in 1881 and two smelting furnaces were built in 1882 and operated until 1939.
Rachecourt is located in a small depression watered by several sources. The name of the village, written Ragecort in 1225, Resig in 1281, Resauwe in 1480, later Raigecourt) might be derived from the anthroponym Racca or Racco and the ancient Celtic root or, a depression.
Source: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 16 May 2005
The municipal flag, as confirmed by the municipal administration, is green with three diagonal (descending) red stripes.
Proposed municipal flag of Aubange - not used - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 May 2005
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et
germanophones, the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community proposed a flag of similar design, but with white stripes instead of the red ones.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, adopted by the Municipal Council on 12 June 1978 and confirmed by Royal Decree of 24 April 1980, published in the Belgian officiel gazette on 4 July 1980. The supporters of the shield are two lions or each holding a banner of arms of the shield.
These arms belonged to Athus before the municipal reform, whereas Aubange had no arms. They are the arms of the family of Reiffenberg, lord of Aix-sur-Cloie.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 16 May 2005