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Messancy (Municipality, Province of Luxembourg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Messancy]

Municipal flag of Messancy - Image by Ivan Sache,19 November 2001

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Presentation of Messancy

The municipality of Messancy (in Luxemburgian, Miétzeg; 7,466 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 5,243 ha) is located in the extreme south-east of Belgium, 10 km south of Arlon, close to the borders with France and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The municipality of Messancy is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Messancy, Hondelange (Hondeléng), Wolkrange (Woulker), Sélange (Seilen) and Habergy (Hiewerdang).

Messancy was mentioned for the first time in 1096, as "Masancejum terrae", in a Bull by Pope Urban II listing the goods of the abbey of Juvigny. The original bull was lost but a copy was published by Dom Calmet in his Histoire de Lorraine, 1728. Among the several proposed etymologies for the name of the village, Pr. J. Loicq (University of Liège) believes that the most probale is Maxence's estate. The Roman settlement is recalled by the toponym Römersberg (the Romans' Hill) and was confirmed by excavations made in 1987, yielding 80 Gallo-Roman tombs from the Ist-IInd centuries AD. Sarcophagi found in an old cemetary in 1878 were confirmed to be of Merovingian origin by J.B. Sibenaler in 1904. A document dated 1214 names the oldest known lord of Messancy as Anselm of Metzig. He might have helped the Count of Luxembourg in his war against the Count of Namur. In 1292, the domain of Messancy was transferred from the County of Arlon to the Duchy of Bar; however, the chart prescribing the transfer has been considered as a forgery by some historians.
In 1309, Messancy is listed as a "free town" ruled by the Law of Beaumont; this status had been required by the villagers, who had set up a municipal organization, since 1276. In the early XIVth century, the lords of Messancy seem to have increased their local power and their politicial position in the County of Luxembourg. Gilles of Messancy was Provost in Arlon in 1360, as were his successors Gilles II and Jean II. In 1441, Jean II of Messancy took the Burgundian party against the Count of Luxembourg when Duke Philip the Good invaded the County. In 1463, he transferred his goods and his castle to his two surviving daughters, Mathilde of Hondelange and Marguerite of la Pierre.
Sélange was made an independant municipality in 1876.

Messancy is the birth village of the statesman Jean-Baptiste Nothomb (1805-1881). Awarded a Doctor in Law's degree in 1826, Nothomb moved to Brussels where he supported the independence of Belgium in different journals. Being in his homeland during the 1830 revolution, he moved back to Brussels and was appointed secretary of the committee in charge of drafting the new Constitution, which yielded hims the nickname of "Father of the Constitution". Elected as a representative of Arlon in the first Belgian chamber, he fought for the definitive incorporation of Arlon to Belgium and not to Germany, as it had been aired in 1831.
The youngest member of the chamber, Nothomb defended a representative monarchy with two houses, liberty of press, independence (versus union with France) and strict separation of the secular and religious powers. In 1837, Nothomb was appointed Minister of Public Works in the Catholic government led by Theux, warmly promoting the building of railways all over Belgium. Appointed Prime Minister in 1841, he led an Unionist government including Catholic and Liberal ministers and resigned in 1845 following the progress of the Liberals in the general election. His half-brother Alphonse Nothomb (1817-1898) was a moderate Liberal politician, Minister of the Interior and of Justice in 1856-1857. The Nothomb family has several other statesmen and writers, including the success writer Amélie Nothomb.


Ivan Sache, 2 September 2007

Municipal flag of Messancy

The flag of Messancy is vertically divided red-yellow-red-yellow-red-yellow-red (seven stripes).
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 6 June 1993 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 26 October 1993, as Sept laizes transversales alternativement rouges et jaunes.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

The municipal website gives the municipal arms of Messancy as De gueules, trois pals d'or.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 2 September 2007