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Ohey (Municipality, Province of Namur, Belgium)

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

Municipal flag of Ohey - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 May 2005

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Presentation of Ohey

The municipality of Ohey (4,318 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 5,662 ha) is located in the middle plateau of Condroz, in the province of Namur. It is mostly a rural municipality, with 41% of its area in pastures, 39% in cultivated fields and 11% in forests. The villages are often located slightly below the sandstone crests or in the valleys dug in limestone by the rivers.
The municipality of Ohey is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Ohey (1,540 inh.; 1,232 ha), Evelette (629 inh.; 1,380 ha), Goesnes (203 inh.; 670 ha), Haillot (1,292 inh.; 1,074 ha), Jallet (156 inh.; 651 ha) and Perwez-Condroz (419 inh.; 656 ha).

The name of Ohey means "an elevated place covered with woods", from the Germanic words o, "an elevated place", and heis, heyde, hey, "a wood".
Evelette is a diminutive of Eve. The root av and the suffixes ava and eva are related to water (in Latin, aqua); in Roman and in today's Walloon, ave and aiwe mean "water".
Haillot was written Hailleul in 1280, Hailheu and Hailleu in the XIVth century, and eventually Haillot in the XVIth century.
Goesnes might be related to a man named Godon. It was successively written Goenes (c. 1380), Gosne, Goesne and eventually Goesnes.

Perwez was known as Petrosum Vadum, meaning in Latin "a stony ford or depression". The Latin root petro-, "stone", gave pierre in French and pire in Walloon; vadum gave in Walloon wez, a small pond used as a watering place for cattle.

In the Prehistoric times, a line of tumulus ran across the territory of Ohey. As expected, the sites of the tumulus were reused to build churches after the evangelization of the region: the former churches of Ohey and Haillot and the church of Perwez were built on this line. In the Gallo-Roman times, isolated settlements developed along the secondary Roman way (diverticulum) that linked Lustin and Huy. In 1930, an early Christian cemetary (IVth century) was excavated in Flemme; flint and bronze axes and Roman tiles were found in the fields between Goesnes and Jallet; Roman coins were found in Evelette. Abbot Matagne, the former priest of Evelette, found in Résimont the heating system (hypocaust) of a rich Roman villa from the IInd century.

From the Middle Ages to the French Revolution, Evelette and Perwez belonged to the Principality of Liège. Ohey and Haillot originally belonged to the County of Namur, which had a stripe of land on the right bank of river Meuse; in 1199, the Treaty of Dinant split that land and its southern part, including Ohey and Haillot, was incorporated into the Duchy of Luxembourg. The newly incorporated villages were ruled by the Provostship of Poilvache and called "en Rendarche" because they were lined up along the forest of Arche (en rang d'Arche). Goesnes, including Filée and Jallet, was fiercely disputed between Liège and Namur. The manor of Goesnes was the hotspot of the Cow's War, which broke out in the XIIth century. A farmer from Jallet (Namur) was indicted for having stolen a cow on the market of Ciney (Liège); this local crisis provided the Count of Namur and the Prince-Bishop of Liège with a pretext to settle the score. In 1342, Duke Jean de Luxembourg sold Poilvache to Countess of Namur Marie d'Artois; after the death of Count Jean de Namur in 1430, the County was incorporated to the Duchy of Burgundy. As a retaliation, Liège invaded the region and burnt down the villages.

The end of the XVIth century was particularly difficult in the region. In 1577, war and starvation scoured the country of Namur, which was the center of military operations ordered by Don Juan of Austria. Destitution peaked in 1587, when crops and villages were abandoned. In 1636, the region was invaded by Duke of Lorraine and plundered for years; the same year, black plague depopulated the villages (222 died in Perwez). Then, the country was under permanent threat of French invasion.
During the Brabant revolt against Austria (1789-1790), the region was again plundered by the troops of the two camps; in September 1790, the village and the castle of Ohey were looted by the patriots, who were eventually defeated in Assesse on 22 September 1790.

On 18 August 1914, General Von Bülow, commander of the 2nd German army, set up his headquarters in the castle of Ohey; civilians were killed by the German troops in Evelette and Haillot.
In June 1944, failed attempts by the Belgian anti-German Resistance caused a raid in Ohey and Haillot. On 24 December 1944, an American B17 in distress avoided the village of Ohey and crashed down in the fields near Reppe; the three airmen were killed in the crash.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 16 May 2005

Municipal flag of Ohey

The municipal flag of Ohey is yellow with three red horse combs placed 2 and 1. According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 13 September 1990 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 18 December 1991, as Jaune à trois peignes de cheval rouges.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, which are the arms of the Marquis de Maillen.

The municipal website of Ohey explains the adoption process of the municipal arms and flag.
After the administrative reform of 1976, the municipality of Ohey, which had no arms before the fusion, applied for municipal arms. Ohey wished to use the greater arms of the Maillen family. The first lord of Tahier (in Evelette), Woulthy de Maillen, and his brother Philippe were appointed Knights in 1321. The arms of Maillen are:
D'or à trois peignes de chevaux de gueules - Couronne de marquis ancienne - Supports : deux lions d'or, armés et lampassés de gueules, tenant chacun une bannière aux armes de l'écu. Le tout posé sous un pavillon de gueules, fourré d'hermine, cintré, houppé et frangé d'or; Les coutines retroussées et liées à cordons et houppes d'or : le comble rayonné d'or, surmonté d'un trousseau de plumes; les revers aux émaux de l'écu.
"Or three horse combs gules - Crown: Marquis ancient - Supporters: two lions or armed and langued gules holding a banner of arms of the shield. The whole placed under a pavilion gules [...]"
In spite of the insistence of the municipality of Ohey, the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community stated in its session of 23 June 1989 "that it was not suitable for a municipality to use in its arms ornaments specifically belonging to a family or a person and that a more sober design must be proposed to the municipality".
The sober design is the shield of arms of Maillen, D'or à trois peignes de cheval de gueules percés de trois trous.

The horse combs shown on the arms of Ohey are very similar to the rakes shown on the arms of the County of Rethel, used today by the municipality of Rethel, located in the French Ardennes, close to the border with Belgium, and other municipalities in the neighborhood.
Brian Timms gives the arms of Rethel as De gueules à trois râteaux sans manche d'or ("Gules three rake's heads or). The arms, formerly used by the Counts of Rethel, were confirmed by King Charles X in 1826. They are canting, since a rake is in French a râteau, in old French a rastel.
The municipality of Charleville-Mézières uses two rake's heads in its arms.
Donchery bears De gueules, à deux râteaux d'or en chef, à la lettre D d'or, en pointe ("Gules three rake's heads surmounting a capital letter D or").
Le Châtelet-sur-Retourne bears De gueules à deux rateaux d'or en chef, à la lettre C de même, en pointe ("Gules two rake's heads in chief and a capital letter C in base or").
Omont bears De gueules à deux rateaux d'or en chef, à la lettre O de même, en pointe ("Gules two rake's heads in chief and in base a letter O or").

In 1950, the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Department of Ardennes was celebrated with the adoption of a coat of arms combining the arms of Champagne and those of the County of Rethel:
D'azur à la bande d'argent accompagné de deux cotices potencées et contre-potencées d'or; un chef de gueules chargé de trois râteaux d'or, deux et un ("Azure a bend argent double cotised potent counter potent or a chief gules three rake's heads 2,1 or").

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 8 September 2007