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Anhée (Municipality, Province of Namur, Belgium)

Last modified: 2020-09-20 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Anhée - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 23 July 2005

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Presentation of Anhée and its villages

The municipality of Anhée (6,958 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 6,454 ha; municipal website) is located on the river Meuse, 8 km north of Dinant and 22 km south of Liège. The municipality of Anhée was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Anhée, Annevoie-Rouillon, Bioul, Denée, Haut-le-Wastia, Sosoye and Warnant.
The municipal territory of Anhée is watered by the Meuse and the smaller river Molignée. The landscapes are successions of ridges, locally called tiges, and valleys, locally called chavées, with woods, pastures and crops.

Anhée (2,013 inh. on 1 January 2005; 588 ha) is a very ancient settlement, as shown by the Gallo-Roman cemetary found in 1885 during the building of the railway. The name of the village appeared in the 12th century as Anheia, a personal possession of the Count of Namur. In the 13th century, the municipality (mairie) of Anhée included Sommière, Haut-Le-Wastia, Moulins, Hun, Annevoie and Warnant. At the end of the 13th century, the administrative structure of the County of Namur was fixed and Anhée belonged to the Bailliwick of Bouvignes. Anhée had to provide some 60 crossbowmen for the defense of Bouvignes; when Bouvignes was seized and plundered by King of France Henri II, all the men from Anhée but three were slaughtered. In 1465, Anhée was plundered by soldiers sent by the Prince-Bishop of Liège, then suzereign of Dinant and in permanent struggle with the Count of Namur.
In 1755, Empress Maria-Theresia made of Anhée, Senenne and Grange a higher lordship, purchased for 2,800 guilders by Pierre de Montpellier, ironmaster in the neighbouring village of Yvoir. Anhée was sold in 1766 to Dautrebande, ironmaster in La Roche-à-Moulins, who kept it until the French Revolution.
In 1830, there were 437 inhabitants, all living from agriculture, and 53 houses in Anhée. Industrialization of the village started in the middle of the 19th century with the opening of quarries in the place called "Bout des campagnes", of the Rabozée brewery in 1858 and of a bell foundry in 1876 (closed in 1893). The real industrial boom occurred in the beginning of the 20th century, with the founding of a factory by S.A. des Fonderies et Forges Saint-Joseph de Couvin, which employed 400 workers in the 1930s. The factory produced saucepans, cooking pots, sanitary appliances, stoves and heaters. After the closure of the factory in 1958, Anhée specialized in the production of heat-resistant stuff.

Annevoie-Rouillon (661 inh. on 1 January 2005; 657 ha) is made of the three sections of Annevoie, Rouillon and Hun. It belonged to the County of Namur and was ran by the Bailiwick of Montaigle. The last Bailiff of Montaigle, Charles-Alexis de Montpellier (1758-1793) was also the last lord of Annevoie-Rouillon. The domain of Hun was purchased in 1730 by François-Guillaume de Propper, who was succeeded by his son Jean-Guillaume, later also lord of Salet, Haut-Le-Wastia and Warnant. The small valley between Annevoie and Rouillon, watered by the Rouillon brook, was the place of an early industrial activity. Ponds were dug in order to control the water flow; each pond powered a forge and provided water in case of drought. In the beginning of the 19th century, on a distance of slightly more than one km, there were five forges and three smelting furnaces. The Kingdom's General Archives state that in 1430 Henri Le Scardeÿ paid three oboles to be allowed to power his "hammer" with water in Rouillon. The ironmasters of Rouillon founded famous dynasties, such as de Montpellier, de Moreau, de Cesves, Bauchau and Mission. In 1840-1850, the massive industrialization of the valley of Meuse suppressed the traditional forges of Rouillon, which were transformed into marble sawmills, polishers, oil mills etc.. The forge "D'En Bas" survived until 1891, when Eugène Malevez transformed it into an agricultural machine factory (ploughs and other tools). The Malevez factory was closed in the beginning of the 1950s and this was the end of iron industry in Annevoie-Rouillon.

Bioul (2,090 inh. on 1 January 2005) was successively known as Biurtus (635-937), Biurt, Biuche, Byvel, Biweil, Byul, Byoul and Bioulx. The first known lord of Bioul was Balduinus d'Orbay, cited in 1095. Fifty years later, his successor married Ide de Coucy, grand-daughter of the Count of Hainaut and descender of the mighty sire de Coucy, who challenged the Capetian kings of France. In the 13th century, Berthe d'Orbais married her cousin Gérard II de Jauche, which make them owners of several domains scattered all over Belgium: Baudour, Gomignies, Jauche, Hierges, Bioul and Sedan. In the beginning of the 16th century, the Jauche family was ruined and its domains were sold to the Brandebourg family. From the beginning of the 18th century onwards, the castle of Bioul had several successive owners, including the ironmaster Guillaume de Bilquin; Knight Guillaume Moreau, later appointed Mayor of Charleroi; the Jesuit Henri de Theux, founder of the Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix library in Namur; and François Vaxelaire, whose descendants still live in Bioul.
A famous marble called bleu belge (Belgian Blue) was extracted from the "Notre Terre" quarry until 1971. The water source located in the quarry is used today to provide drinking water to the town of Charleroi.

Denée (734 inh. on 1 January 2005; 1,037 ha) has been known under its current name since the 13th century. Jules Herbillon believes that this name is linked to the Latin verb donare, "to give"; the village would have been included in a donation made to the church of Liège. Unlike the other villages constituting Anhée, Denée belonged to the Principality of Liège. Stone is still extracted in Denée, as petit granit, a blue stone, and noir de Denée, a blackish stone. However, the extraction of the once famous black marble of Denée stopped in 1927. The villages of Mardesous and Maharenne were incorporated to the municipality of Denée after the French Revoution.

Haut-le-Wastia (339 inh. on 1 January 2005), known as Haut-le-Wasteau in the 17th century, is located on the top of a hill (in French, haut means "high"). The big linden standing on the church square was probably planted in 1830 to celebrate the independence of Belgium. During the invasion of Belgium in August 1914, the Germans shot three inhabitants of the village. During the Second World War, there was in Haut-le-Wastia on 12 May a bloody fight between the French troops defending the valley of Meuse and the Panzers commanded by Rommel. The last pocket of defenders refused to surrender and was defeated on 14 May.

Sosoye (137 inh. on 1 January 2005) was probably a place where willows (in Latin, salix; in French, saule) grew. The village belonged to the abbey of Brogne in Saint-Gérard since 1070. The abbey, founded in 919, was incorporated to the diocese of Namur in 1561 and suppressed during the French Revolution. Sosoye was then incorporated to the municipality of Saint-Gérard, from which it seceded in 1819. The village is located in a narrow valley surmonted by rocks, which explains the nickname of Montagnards given to the inhabitants of the village.
Maredret (360 inh. on 1 January 2005) was incorporated to Sosoye in 1819. The village is known today for its craftsmen, art galleries and Christmas decorations, and for the neighbouring Benedictine abbey of Maredsous.

The abbey of Maredsous (website) was founded on 15 October 1872, upon request of the young Belgian monk Hildebrand de Hemptinne, then monk at the abbey of Beuron, in Germany. The big industrials Desclée had a vacation house in Maredret and were convinced by Hemptinne and their stewart Victor Mousty to fund the building of the abbey of Maredsous. They commissioned the architect Jean-Baptiste Béthune (1821-1894). Béthune was the originator of the neo-gothic style in Belgium. He drafted the plans of the abbey, as well as sketches for frescos, church windows, sculptures and furniture and refused to be paid for his works. The plan of the church was modified during the building by father Ghislain Béthune, the architect's son. However, the frescos were not painted according to Béthune's sketches but inspired by the art school of the mother abbey of Beuron. The resulting frescos are a compromise between Béthune's neo-gothic and Beurin's neo-roman spirits.
Dom Hildebrand de Hemptinne was elected the first abbot of Maredsous in 1890. The same year, he proposed the creation in the abbey of an education institute to train carpenters, blacksmiths, plumbers and cobblers. Father Pascal Roux, appointed director of the St. Joseph's Institute in 1903, transformed the abbot's project into a religious art institute. After the First World War, some sections (embroidery and book binding) were suppressed because of the lack of funds; only the sections able to raise funds for the abbey were kept (silversmith's trade, enamel making, cabinetmaking and wood sculpture). After the Second World War, the aim of the institute was changed once again to the training of artists more than craftsmen and the Maredsous Art Institute became world-famous. In 1964, the institute merged with another institute in Namur to constitute the Institut des Arts et Techniques Artisanales. The only section originally founded in Maredsous still active is ceramic, created in 1951 and directed by Antonio Lampecco.
Dom Marmion (Joseph Marmion, 1858-1923), an Irish monk, joined the abbey of Maredsous as monk Columba in 1886 and was elected Abbot in 1909. He was Abbot until his death. Dom Marmion was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Rome on 3 September 2000.
Production of cheese started in Maredsous in 1953, on the model of the Port-Salut produced by the abbey of Entrammes in France. In 1990, the abbey cooperative cheese dairy was purchased by the French group Bel (producer, inter alia, of the famous Vache qui rit and Babybel), but the monks have kept the control of the quality of the products. The famous Maredsous beers (Belgian Pale Ale, Dubbel, Tripel) are brewed under license by the Duvel Mortgaat brewery, located in Breendonk (Puurs).

Warnant (468 inh. on 1 January 2005; 1,183 ha) was made of the three domains of Warnant proper, Salet and Moulins. It was ran by the Bailiwick of Montaigle. After the French Revolution, the municipality of Warnant incorporated the village of Salet. In 1812, the municipality of Moulins was suppressed and the village incorporated to Warnant.
Salet (149 inh. on 1 January 2005; 275 ha) was purchased in 1266 by Abbess Béatrice on behalf of the abbey of Moulins. The abbey did not care of this village, which explains its low development. When de Propper purchased the domains of Salet and Haut-le-Wastia in 1777, Salet was a hamlet with ten poor houses. There were several quarries in Salet, some of them being active since the Middle Ages, and a sizeable Italian community.


Ivan Sache, 23 July 2005

Flag of Anhée

The flag of Anhée is yellow with a red chevron, matching a proposal made by the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community. The flag shall recall a A letter, for Anhée.
The flag has nothing to do with the complicated municipal arms of Anhée, which use elements of the arms of the former owners of the villages constituting Anhée.
[Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones [w2v03]]

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 23 July 2005