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Léglise (Municipality, Province of Luxembourg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2011-05-14 by ivan sache
Keywords: leglise | merlettes: 5 (black) | birds: 5 (black) |
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[Flag of Leglise]

Municipal flag of Léglise - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 21 March 2007

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Presentation of Léglise

The municipality of Léglise (4,178 inhabitants; 17,292 ha, including 9,022 ha of forests) is located in the southern side of the plateau of Ardennes, between Arlon and Neufchâteau. The municipality of Léglise is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Léglise, Assenois, Ébly, Louftémont, Mellier and Witry.

Léglise is named after the church (in French, l'église, from Latin ecclesia) built on a schistose promontory dominating the village, which was until the 19th century the seat and the only church of a big parish incorporating 12 villages and hamlets.
The area was already settled in the Neolithic, as shown by the flint axe found in Bernimont. The bronze lance point found in Thibessart is one of the masterpieces from the Bronze Age shown in the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels. However, the region of Léglise is mostly famous for its Celtic tombs. The Celtic necropolis of Léglise dates from the Tène period (5th century BC), whereas the first tomb with a funeral cart and the most beautiful fibula ever found in Ardenne were excavated from the necropolis of Nivelet. The necropolis of Gohimont yielded 19 tombs, two funeral pyres and four tombs with a cart, as well as bronze jewels, lance points, vases and harness pieces. Another tomb with a cart was found in Witry, including a travelling case, whereas other Celtic tombs were excavated in Ébly.
In the Gallo-Roman times, the region was not crossed by main ways but only by a diverticulum (secondary way) of the chaussée Brunehaut (Reims-Trier). However, remains of villae were found in Ébly, Witry and Volaiville, as well as necropolis in Volaiville and Winville.

In the early Middle Ages, the forest was partially cleared to form the pagus ardennensis, mentioned for the first time in 767-768. The Carolingian lords enjoyed hunting in the forest; Pépin le Bref stayed in the manor of Mellier (Maslario palatio) in 763. A chart dated 888 lists Maslario as a domain (fiscus). The Ban of Mellier, aka the parish of Léglise, probably dates back to that period; it included the villages of Gennevaux, Habaru, Lavaux, Les Fossés, Mellier, Rancimont, Thibessart, Naleumont, Narcimont, Nivelet and Wittimont, and existed until the end of the Ancient Regime.
A donjon was built in Mellier around 1060; around 1180, Thierry, the junior brother of Louis III, Count of Chiny, was granted Mellier as his apanage, which he increased by incorporating the domain of Longlier, where he built a "new castle", founding the town of Neufchâteau. The banate of Mellier and the country of Neufchâteau were merged to form the domain of Neufchâteau in the 14th century; there is no further mention of the castle of Mellier after 1645. A map made in 1609 for the Dukes of Arenberg, lords of Neufchâteau, shows the villages of Gennevaux, Wittimont, Narcimont, Léglise, Nivelet, Bernimont, Habaru, Naleumont, Assenois, Les Fossés, Lavaux and Mellier.

Forges were set up around 1620 in Mellier-Bas and Mellier-Haut by François de Gosée and Pierre Goens, respectively. They were purchased in 1731 by the Duke of Looz-Corswarem and merged in 1750. The forges were closed after the French Revolution; Duke Prosper Louis d'Arenberg purchased them in 1837 but could not resume any industrial activity. The building of two lime kilns in Mellier-Haut around 1856 was not successfull either.
In 1659, a pilgrimage was organized by an hermit in the Ban of Mellier, jointly with a linen cloth fair called biseux (from bissus, a local word for cloth). The fairs took place twice a year and were very famous until their suppression in 1804.
During the reign of Empress Maria-Theresa (1740-1780), the building of the road linking Luxembourg and the Netherlands via Léglise opened up the region. A legend says that the Empress stopped at Thibessart, where her arms are still shown on a stone dated 1778 and placed on the facade of the former mill.
The railway line Brussels-Arlon crossed Lavaux and Mellier in 1858, boosting the industrial development of the region, where tanneries, mills, sawmills and oilmills were opened. In Léglise, the Wathelet-Roger family set up in 1869 a distillery whose products were famous all over Wallonia until its closure in 1970.
On the evening of 20 December 1982, the village of Léglise was wiped out by a violent tornado that destroyed all houses but fortunately did not claim any life.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 21 March 2007

Municipal flag of Léglise

The municipal flag of Léglise is horizontally divided white-green, ten stripes, with a square white canton, five-stripe (or half flag) high, charged with five black merlettes placed 1+3+1.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones [w2v03a], this flag was proposed by the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community, as Dix laizes alternativement blanches et vertes, avec un canton carré blanc à la hampe chargé de cinq merlettes noires rangées en croix.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 21 March 2007