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Neufchâteau (Municipality, Province of Luxembourg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-06-26 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Neufchâteau

The municipality of Neufchâteau (6,652 inhabitants - Chestrolais - on 1 January 2007; 11,379 ha; municipal website) is located in the middle of the Province of Luxembourg, 30 km north-west of Arlon. The municipality of Neufchâteau was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Neufchâteau, Grandvoir, Grapfontaine, Hamipré, Longlier, and Tournay.

Neufchâteau (lit., Newcastle) was the capital of the Country of Neufchâteau, grouping thirty villages around the old Merovingian domain of Longolare, later the mother parish of Longlier. Neufchâteau depended on the Benedictine abbey of Florennes, which set up a priory in Longlier, suppressed and sold by the French revolutionaries in 1797. The building was burned by the Germans in 1914; only the barns and the stables of the Winand farm are remains from the priory. The Winand farm is nicknamed Charlemagne's farm to recall a Carolingian manor, but the nickname appeared only in the 19th century and has no historical value.
The cemetery of Longlier has the tombs of some famous men, such as Jules Le Jeune (1828-1911), lawyer, Senator of Brabant and Minister of Justice in 1887-1894, promoter of the controversial law on release on parol; Albert Claude (1899-1983), a pioneer in cellular biology and the use of centrifugation in biology, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medecine in 1974 (shared with George Palade and Christian de Duve); and Albert Leblanc (1903-1987), organist of the cathedral of Luxembourg for more than 60 years and composer.
In 1608, Charles of Arenberg (1550-1616), lord of Neufchâteau, ordered the drawing of a map of the Provostship of Neufchâteau, showing a panoramic view of the town and its castle, surrounded by walls with three gates, and of the neighbouring villages. The Griffon Tower is all that has remained from the town fortifications.

Neufchâteau is crossed by the river of the same name, whose power contributed to the industrial development of the town. The Chaurné slate quarry was opened in 1700 and revamped around 1780 by Eugène Bertaux, Prior of Longlier. Closed around 1800, the quarry was reopened in 1919 because of the great demand of material for the post-war rebuilding; deemed not profitable, it was eventually closed in 1923.
The tanners and curriers' guild already existed in 1533, checking the quality of the leather produced in Neufchâteau; there were still nine tanneries in the town in 1764 and five in 1855. The Gérard-Gofflot tannery was awarded a 1st class medal in the Paris industrial exhibition. Tannery declined in Neufchâteau after 1880.

Ivan Sache, 3 September 2007

Flag of Neufchâteau

The flag of Neufchâteau is blue with in the center St. Michel slaying the dragon, all yellow.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones [w2v03a], the flag, adopted on 12 June 2002 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree issued on 17 July 2003 by the Executive of the French Community.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

The design of the municipal arms experienced several artistic variations over the years. The municipal seals known since the 16th century all show the archangel, holding either a shield or a pair of scales, slaying the dragon with either a lightning or a lance. In 1696, it was prescribed "to the provosts, the feudal lords and the aldermen of the town and the franchising of Neufchâteau" that the coat of arms was "Argent, a saint Michel proper clad azure, gules and or, winged of the third, holding a sword argent to slay a dragon azure, langued gules, lying in his feet". However, variations were not suppressed and the most common model of the arms was "Argent, a saint Michel proper wearing a cloak azure and a shield argent slaying a dragon vert". The saint had either wings or not and the sword was replaced by a lightning.
The arms were granted by a (Dutch) Royal Decree on 10 September 1818, confirmed in 1838 by a (Belgian) Royal Decree, with a simpler blason "Argent a saint Michel Argent proper, the shield surmounted by a crown or". The image, probably from Servais, shows the saint with a cloak azure, a crossed shield or, a punk's crest gules, holding two lightnings or and trampling a dragon, with a devil's head and tail, vert.
A new design was adopted on 26 November 1981, with the field azure, the saint all or, with wings and a single lightnings, trampling a winged devil (no longer a dragon).

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 3 September 2007