Last modified: 2006-01-14 by ivan sache
Keywords: meix-devant-virton | heads: javeline (white) | arrows (white) |
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Municipal flag of Meix-devant-Virton - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 8 May 2005
The municipality of Meix-devant-Virton (2,718 inhabitants, 5,420 hectares) is made of the former municipalities of Gérouville, Meix-devant-Virton, Robelmont, Sommethonne and Villers-la Loue. Meix is located in the south of the province of Luxembourg (Gaume), on the border with France.
The name of Meix (in Walloon, Maiche) means garden. It is believed to
come from the Latin word mensa, literally, a table, here a field
providing food (products placed on a table). Some 50 villages and
hamlets are called Meix in Lorraine, Burgundy and Champagne. The origin of the village was most probably a clearing near the confluency of brooks that provided water for market gardening. Early documents call
the village Meix in Spelunca (in the cave); no cave has ever been found
in Meix and the cave might recall the clearing surrounded by a thick,
Due to the plenty of water, mills were set up very early in Meix, one of them depending on the abbey of Orval.
On the old maps, the village is called Meix or Mex. The qualifier "devant-Virton" (in front of Virton, the neighbouring city) seems to have been added under the Dutch rule in 1815, for the sake of differenciation with Meix-le-Tige, located in the provostship of Arlon.
In 1636, black plague spread over Belgium, but Meix was hardly hit. In early June, a detachment of the Austrian army including Croats and Poles (then called Granates and Polaques) entered Meix and commited "harassment to the inhabitants". When the soldiers finally left, someone fired at them from the cemetary, killing the Croat captain of the detachment. The Croats came back to the village on 11 June to take their revenge. They burnt down all the 129 houses of the village but one at each end. A few inhabitants could hide in the woods, but most of them locked themselves into the parish church. The soldiers piled up bundles of firewood all around the church and lit the fire. Mayor Arnould Lambinet, his Lieutenant Didier of Coulon and échevin Didier Toussaint jumped out of a skylight of the bell-tower and escaped the arsonists. The church was burnt down and 567 villagers were burnt alive.
Gérouville belonged to the abbey of Orval until the French Revolution.
In 1070, Count Arnoux II de Chiny ceded the domain of Orval to a group of monks, replaced in 1108 by canons sent by Bishop Brunon of Troyes,
themselves replaced in 1131 by Cistercians monks. Orval owned most of
Gérouville, then called Gérousart. By an agreement signed in 1258 by
the Count de Chiny and the Abbot of Orval, Gérouville was submitted to
the law of Beaumont: on Pentecost, the community elected its Mayor, his
Lieutenant and two Echevins. In May 1273, Count Louis V de Chiny and
his wife Jeanne de Blamont granted a weekly market to Gérouville. In
1538, a sawmill and forges were set up in La Soye (locally known as La
Souie, the saw), powered by waterfalls from ponds. A listing of the
abbey of Orval, dated 1659, recalls that the Croats destroyed in 1636
the village of Limes, which was not rebuilt.
In 1659, Gérouville, belonging to the provosthip of Malmédy, was incorporated to France (treaty of Pyrénées); in the beginning of the XVIIIth century, Gérouville was an advanced post on the road to Malmédy, fortified by Vauban. Gérouville was incorporated to the Austrian Lower Countries in 1769.
In 1823, Gérouville, Limes and La Soye were merged into a single municipality; the forges of La Soye were suppressed in 1858.
Gérouville was famous for its linden (or was it an elm?), planted in 1259 and fallen down in 1877.
Villers-la-Loue has Roman origins, as an estate called
Villare-Allodium. Foundations of a Roman villa and several remains of
tiles, bricks and pottery have been found near the modern farm of
Grihir. In the Frankish times, Villers was probably a village, as shown
by two tombs founded in 1876 by quarrymen. A complete Frankish cemetary
was excavated, which yielded paved tombs, human bones and teeth,
scramasaxes (single-sharped war swords), javeline heads, shield handles
and belt buckles filigreed with gold and silver. All these artefacts
are shown in the National Museum in Brussels.
The name of Villers dates back to 1225. A census dated 1656 lists "Jean Connerot, foundry worker in the forge of Berchu". Berchu is a brook, which most probably gave its name to the hamlet of Berchiwé, well known for its cannon forge in the XVIIth century.
Villers and Houdrigny were two municipalities until the French Revolution; Villers, Houdrigny, Robelmont and Sommethonne were later merged into a single municipality, with 1,387 inhabitants in 1841.
Robelmont (written Robermont until 1850) was probably founded by someone called Robert (Roberti Mons). The municipality peaks at 240 m a.s.l. at Harpigny (lit., the manor on the wooded mount).
Source: Municipal website.
Most information quoted there is from Abbot N.J. Lenoir, who proposed to rename the municipality Meix-en-Gaume, "since it is located neither in fron nor behind Virton".
Ivan Sache, 8 May 2005
The flag of Meix-devant-Virton is red with five white javeline heads placed 2 and 3 and a thin vertical stripe along the hoist, horizontally divided in ten alternating blue and white stripes.
The flag was adopted on 4 March 2003 by the Municipal Council and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 17 July 2003. It is based on the municipal arms, whose official description is, according to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones:
De gueules à cinq fers de framée d'argent, rangés 2 et 3, au chef diminué coupé d'azur et d'argent.
Gules five javeline heads argent placed 2 and 3, a diminished (decreased?) chief per fess azure and argent.
The javeline heads recall the Frankish arms found in Villers-la-Loue; their arrangement 2 and 3 recalls the letter M and the colours are those of the province of Luxembourg.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 8 May 2005