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Marche-en-Famenne (Municipality, Province of Luxembourg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-06-26 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Marche-en-Famenne

The municipality of Marche-en-Famenne (17,066 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 12,140 ha; municipal website) is the capital of the region of Famenne. The municipality of Marche-en-Famenne was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Marche-en-Famenne, Aye, Hargimont, Humain, On, Roy, and Waha.

The region of Famenne is bordered in the north by the plateau of Condroz, with fertile arable soil, and in the south by the massif of Ardenne, mostly covered with forests and with poor, crystalline soil. In the second half of the 1st century AD, Famenne was crossed by the two Roman roads Bavay-Trier and Arlon-Tongeren and a few secondary roads (diverticula) along which a few small settlements emerged. Gallo-Roman villae, covering 50-60 ha, and cemeteries were built quite apart from the roads. In the 5th century, the Merovingians settled the area, mostly the valleys of Lesse and Lomme.
Before the 9th century, a small town was founded by the abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy on river Marche; the name of the river was later given to the town, why the river received a diminished name, Marchette. The river marked the border between two pagi, in the north-west, Condroz, later the County of Huy, in the south-east, Ardenne, later the County of La Roche-en-Ardenne. Monks built in Marche a small wooden chapel, while the town still depended on the parish and lord of Waha.
In the 12th century, Marche was transferred to the Count of La Roche; located on the road from Namur to Luxembourg, the town increased in size and strategic importance, and was granted a charter. At the end of the 13th century, Marche was surrounded by walls, built according to a rectangular pattern (side, 300 m; width, 4.20 m) and with two fortified gates. The Lower Gate, with two massive towers with pointed roofs and a portcullis, watched the roads to Liège and Namur, while the Upper Gate, aka the Cow's Gate, watched the roads to Rochefort, Bastogne and Luxembourg. The wall was defended by 24 towers and wide moats whose water was supplied by a network of ponds and fishponds. The town was further protected by marshes and a square keep built on the eastern side of the fortifications. In the 14th century, Marche was a wealthy town with a market, a traders' hall, guilds and religious institutions.
On 12 February 1577, Don Juan of Austria, half-brother of King of Spain Philip II and Governor of the Low Countries, signed the Perpetual Edict of Marche, granting the respect of the local privileges and the withdrawal of the Spanish troops from the Low Countries. The religious liberty was not granted, so that the war between the Spaniards and the Protestants quickly resumed. Most of the fortifications of Marche were suppressed on Louis XIV's order from 1675 onwards.

The Lace Museum is housed in the Juniesse tower, one of the last remains of the town walls. Less famous than the lace of Brussels, Binche or Bruges, the lace of Marche was quite popular in the 18th century, employing 250 women and children in Marche and another 550 in the neighbouring villages of Aye and Waha. In 1784, Baron of Beelen-Bertholff introduced the lace of Marche in Philadelphia, where it successfully competed with French lace.

Waha, today a small village, was once the seat of a powerful feudal domains with two churches. The St. Étienne church, built in 1050, is the oldest Romanesque church in Belgium. In 2004, it was decorated with church windows designed by the artist Jean-Michel Folon, depicting St. Étienne's life and martyre. The church keeps wooden statues and a calvary from the 16th century attributed to the mysterious Master of Waha. Nothing is known on this sculptor, famous for the very realistic representations of his characters - sometimes compared to caricature or cartoons.

Ivan Sache, 1 September 2007

Flag of Marche-en-Famenne

Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones [w2v03a] describes the flag of Marche-en-Famenne as "Vertically divided white-green with the municipal arms covering the central third of the fly".
White and green are the traditional colours of the town.

The arms of Marche-en-Fammenne are "Argent a castle gules masoned sable with a portcullis of the same, surmounted by an escutcheon quarterly 1. and 4. Gules a lion argent armed, langued and crowned or the tail forked per saltire, 2. and 3. Argent a lion gules armed langued and crowned or the tail forked per saltire, in chief two mullets gules".

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 1 September 2007

Régiment de Chasseurs Ardennais

Marche-en-Famenne is the home of the Régiment de Chasseurs Ardennais. Founded in 16 October 1830 as 2e Régiment de Namur (indeed the Dutch Tweede Afdeling renamed), the 10e Régiment de Ligne, set up on 25 November 1830, fought during the 10-days campaign in Kermpt (7 August 1831) and Kortessem (8 August); the Regiment was awarded its flag b yKing Leopold I in Leuven on 22 December 1831.
In August 1914, the Regiment defended Namur; after the loss of the fortress, it moved to France and came back to Antwerp via Rouen, Le Havre and Zeebrugge. They defended the town of Dendermonde during the withdrawal to the Yser and contributed to the final offensive in Esen and Kortemark. At the end of the First World War, the regiment had lost 1,500 of its 3,500 members and was awarded five citations.

By Royal Decree of 10 March 1933, the 10e de Ligne became the Régiment des Chasseurs Ardennais, with its famous green beret and boar's head insignia. It was divided into three batallions, located in Arlon, Bastogne and Vielsalm, respectively. On 15 September 1934, on the airfield of Waltzing in Arlon (photos, the three battalions (three regiments in 1937) were awarded flags by King Leopold III, who said:

Officiers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the batallions of Chasseurs Ardennais, I am giving you these flags, whose futures are now linked to yours.
It is you to make of them glorious emblems since the fame of a flag is made of the courage, heroism and sacrifice of those who serve under their folds.

After the German invasion of Belgium on 10 May 1940, the Chasseurs Ardennais contributed to the 18-days resistance of the Belgian Army. An artillery battalion was suppressed on the Albert Canal; the survivors went to France while two other battalions fought side by side on the Lys and contributed to the success of the Dunkirk operation by slowing down the German breakthrough. Several Chasseurs Ardennais could escape captivity and joined the resistance movement in the Ardenne maquis, where the green beret became the emblem of the resistance. Some thousands Chasseurs were killed during the Second Word War.

On 11 April 1946, by Decree #2138 signed by the Prince Regent, the flag of the 1er Régiment de Chasseurs Ardennais was granted to the Bataillon de Chasseurs Ardennais, later renamed to 1er Bataillon de Chasseurs Ardennais (1Cha). The flag, a replica of the flag burned on 28 May 1940 (together with the two other flags granted in 1934) to prevent its capture, was officially given to the battalion on 4 May 1946 during the Infantry Day in Brussels.
In 1994, the three Bataillons de Chasseurs Ardennais were merged into the Régiment de Chasseurs Ardennais, awarded its new flag on 21 October 1994 by King Albert II.
[Fraternelle Royale des Chasseurs Ardennais]

The flag of the Chasseurs Ardennais follows the model of the Belgian army colors with the following citations (with dates of the official grants, not shown on the flag):
Campaign 1914-1918:
Yser/IJzer (8 May 1915)
Essen/Esen (14 October 1918)
Cortmarck/Koortemark (27 November 1918)
Namur/Namen (March 1924)
Termonde/Dendermonde (21 June 1930)
Order of Leopold
Campaign 1940
Ardennes (31 Decembre 1945)
Vinkt (31 December 1945) La Dendre/Dender (6 January 1947)
French War Cross (30 August 1950)

Ivan Sache, 1 September 2007