Last modified: 2006-03-04 by ivan sache
Keywords: rochefort | eagle (red) |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
Municipal flag of Rochefort - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 7 May 2005
The municipality and town (Ville) of Rochefort (12,114 inhabitants on 10 February 2005; 16,527 hectares) is located in the west of the province of Namur, close to the province of Luxembourg. It is made since 1977 of the former municipalities of Ave-et-Auffe, Belvaux, Buissonville, Eprave, Han-sur-Lesse, Havrenne, Jemelle, Lavaux-Sainte-Anne, Lessive, Montgauthier, Rochefort, Villers-sur-Lesse and Wavreille.
Remains of the Age of Iron have been found in the caves dug by the
river Wamme in Rochefort. The site seems to have been fortified in the
Roman period in order to increase the security in the area. Several
Merovingian cemetaries scattered along the road from Rochefort to
Eprave indicate a high density of population.
The domain known as Behogne, a Deanery depending in 943 on the church of Liège, was renamed Rochefort (lit., rock - fort), alluding to the highest point of the site where a feudal castle was built, probably replacing the Roman fortress. Rochefort was granted a chart of rights in 1285.
The County of Rochefort was the most powerful feudal domain in the
Principality of Liège. The successive Counts were from the families of
Montagu, claiming to descent from a Norseman lord from the IXth
century, Duras (1147), Walcourt-Rochefort (1187), Stolberg (1544),
Loewenstein (1574), Stolberg (1737). A smaller part of the land of
Rochefort was not included into the County; it was part of the domain
of Hamerenne, depending on the Provostship of Durbuy, in the Duchy of
In 1230, Gilles de Walcourt founded in Rochefort the abbey Notre-Dame-de-Saint-Rémy for Cistercian nuns; they were replaced by monks of the same order in 1464, who were expelled during the French Revolution. In 1887, a group of Cistercian monks from the abbey of Achel resumed monastic life in Rochefort. Saint-Rémy is famous for a coloured marble extracted in neighbouring quarries and exported all over Europe.
The chapel of Lorette was founded in 1625 by Josine de la Marck, Countess of Rochefort. A legend says that the Countess promised to build a chapel if she could recover her son, kidnapped by a monkey. The choir of the chapel is the perfect replica of the Santa Casa in Loreto, said to be the house of the Blessed Virgin, transported by angels from Nazareth to Italy.
The French Revolution made of Rochefort a municipality. At the independence of Belgium (1830), the municipality had an area of 2,861 hectares and 200 houses, hardly 40 of them being built with stones.
Ave and Auffe (in Walloon, Lauffe; written Harfia in 934, Arfia c. 1087, Arfe c. 1297, Aff in 1501, Affe in 1531) were merged into the municipality of Ave-et-Auffe on 13 February 1826. Remains of ancient fortifications and Merovingian tombs have been found near the crossing of two Roman ways.
Belvaux (written Belva in 1274, Belevas in 1304 and Belvalz in 1330) was administratively split before the municipal reform: the part of the village located on the left bank of the Lesse belonged to the municipality of Resteigne, whereas the part located on the right bank belonged to Wavreille. Frankish tombs have been found in the place called Rymont or Montis, where a vanished village existed according to a local tradition. The inhabitants of Belvaux are nicknamed Carcolis.
Buissonville (in Walloon, Bouchonveye; written Basunville in 1104 and Bussonville in 1322) had in the beginning of the XXth century very teasing inhabitants, who were nicknamed Chinards di Bouchonveye. Chiner is a colloquial verb for to rag.
Eprave (written Erpruvium in 1030, Erproeve in 1285, Ieprave in 1407, Erpreuve in 1373 and Yeproeve in 1537) is famous for its 800 Merovingian tombs (Vth-VIIIth centuries). There were several brick factories in the village in the beginning of the XXth century. The inhabitants of Eprave, nicknamed Chovelettes, were known in the past for making at home lops brooms called ramons (the word ramon is listed in Grand Robert de la Langue Française as a "regional word").
Han-sur-Lesse was written Ham in 1139, Hans Sur Lesche in 1266, Han Sur Lece in 1465 and Ham sur lez in 1528. Its inhabitants are nicknamed Ayets. Han was known in the Middle Ages for its sheep herds. In 1915, Lucien Stalars provided electricity to Han by plugging a dynamo on the wheel of the old watermill. Two electric wires brought electricity to one lamp per family. Stalars was bad-tempered; when he had a problem with someone in the village, all families were deprived of electricity. The caves of Han are a main Belgian beauty spot.
Havrenne (300 inhabitants) belonged to the municipality of Humain, in the province of Luxembourg, before the municipal reform.
Jemelle (written Gamedella in 816; Gimelle in 1139, Juniale in 1262, Gimenal in 1288, Gemelle in 1319, Junial in 1320, Gemeal in 1330, Jemil in 1333: Jemil, Geminalle in 1354, Jemelle in 1507 and Gemaill in 1541) is named after a diminutive of the Germanic word Gamunda, meaning mouth, confluency (see the German toponym Gmund). In the beginning of the XXth century, Jemelle was a wealthy village with two family breweries, a marble mason's yard owned by Félix Clamot and several cafés, hotels and restaurants. There was also in Jemelle a big workshop for the repairing and maintenance of steam locomotives, employing 1,500 workers. The workshop caused ta sixfold increase in the population of the village within thirty years.
Lavaux-Saint-Anne (in Walloon, Al'vaux) is built along a street on a small hillock separating the valleys of Wimbe and Gongon. Its inhabitants are nicknamed Petias (small, wild pears). The village had several breweries in the XIXth century.
Lessive (written Licievra c. 1030, Lichivre in 1407, Licive in 1537 and Lessive in 1640) is located in a small valley parallel to the Lesse. Several Merovingian tombs were found there. There was a brewery in the village in the beginning of the XXth century. Its inhabitants are nicknamed Tchabots, after the name of a small fish (chabot).
Montgauthier (in Walloon, Malautchi, written Mons Walcheri in 1139, Monlevachier in 1330, Mont Le Wauthier in 1512 and Molwachier in 1597) is built on a small ridge dominating the Famenne. Gallo-Roman cemetaries dating back to the IIIrd century were found near the village in 1856.
Villers-sur-Lesse (in Walloon, Villers; written Vileir in 1139, Villari sour Leche in 1316 and Villers sur Lech in 1483) is located in the alluvial plain of the Wimbe. Its inhabitants are nicknamed cwarnayes.
Wavreille (written Wavereis in 922, Wavrelia in 1079, Wavereih in 1303, Waurelle in 1304 and Waverelhe in 1558) was known in the past for its fountains, pumps and ponds.
The cyclist Thierry Delculée came back to his city of Rochefort on 24 April 2005 after having pedaled round the world.
Source: Municipal website The sources of the historical and local information available on that website are listed as:
Ivan Sache, 7 May 2005
The municipal flag of Rochefort is yellow with a red eagle with a blue
beak, tongue and claws.
Its official description, as shown in Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, is:
Jaune à l'aigle rouge becquée, languée et membrée de bleu.
The flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 5 September 1991 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 18 December 1991. It is a banner of the municipal arms of Rochefort, adopted at the same dates.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 7 May 2005