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Flémalle (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-11-24 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Flemalle]

Municipal flag of Flémalle - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 5 May 2005

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Presentation of Flémalle and its villages

The municipality of Flémalle (25,021 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,668 hectares) located on both sides of the river Meuse, southwest (upstream) of Liège. The municipality of Flémalle was formed in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Awirs (2,869 inh.), Cahottes (1,277 inh.), Flémalle-Grande (5,527 inh.), Flémalle-Haute (administrative seat of the municipality; 6,615 inh.), Ivoz-Ramet (5,484 inh.) and Mons-lez-Liège (3,431 inh.).

Flémalle-Haute (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.

Flémalle-Grande was given several names in the past, the most significant of them beingFledismamalacha, 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 granted 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.

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 of Aigremont.
The castle of Aigremont is located halfway between Liège and Huy. A legend says that 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 plundered it. The modern castle built on the site of the feudal fortress is still there.

Cahottes was a hamlet depending on Horion-Hozémont until 1976 (when the rest of Horion-Hozémont was incorporated to Grâce-Hollogne). The village has a nature reserve settled by several species of birds. The parish of Cahottes seceded from Hozémont in 1846.

Ivoz-Ramet is made of the three feudal domaines of Ivoz, Ramet and Remioul. Ivoz intially belonged to the St. Lambert cathedral, which sold it in 1261 to the Val-Saint-Lambert 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 Merode Altarpiece (Metropolitan Museum, New York), and he is indeed sometimes referred to as the Master of Merode. 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

Municipal flag of Flémalle

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.

According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, 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 as:
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 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