Last modified: 2020-09-20 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Herve - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 25 February 2006
The municipality of Herve (16,740 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 5,684 ha; municipal website) is located in the north-west of the Province of Liège, 8 km of Verviers and 17 km of Liège. The municipality of Herve was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Herve, Battice, Bolland, Chaineux, Charneux, Grand-Rechain, Julémont and Xhendelesse.
The early history of Herve is obscure. The tradition says it was
founded as a Roman colony. In 779, Charlemagne lists among the goods
granted to the abbey of Chèvremont a place called Angelgiagas, today
José, a village of the former municipality of Battice.
The oldest known written form of Herve is Arvia (in the Chronicle of
the Bishops of Toul, 898), a latinization of the Celtic root arva, "a watercourse" (see, for instance, river Arve in the French
Northern Alps). Therefore, Herve would have been built near a brook,
today the dribble made by the water from the six fountains of the
village. The water flow was probably stronger in the past, when the
region was covered by forests. The name of the village was later
written Harva (1041), Harvia (1042, 1059, 1063), Hervia (1143) and
Harvia (in the confirmation of the grant of the church of Herve to the
chapter of the St. Denis collegiate church in Liège, signed by Pope
Honorius III in 1220).
In the Carolingian times, the domain of Herve was very big, including Herve, Battice, Chaineux, Thimister and Clermont, that is 6,850 ha. In 898, Emperor Arnulf ceded the chapel of Herve to Bishop of Toul Lugdelm. In the 12th century, the chapel was replaced by a church with a big defense tower, accosted to a fort, the whole being surrounded by ditches. Herve was granted the title of town by Duke of Limburg Waleran IV, most probably before 1270. The burghers of Herve had the same rights as those of the town of Limbourg, and the Town of Herve was differentiated from the Ban of Herve.
In 1283, during the War of Succession of Limburg, the castle of Herve was occupied by Renaud of Gelderland and used as a base for expeditions in the County of Dalhem. As a retaliation, the Duke of Brabant besieged the castle, demolished it and burned down the town and the surrounding villages. The castle was rebuilt by the Count of Gelderland and left in the care of Henri, sun of Conrad Snabbe, Lord of Lontzen. However, Henri had to release the castles of Herve, Lontzen and Sprimont to the Duke of Brabant as the ransom for his father. Wenceslas, King of Bohemia, at war with Duke of Brabant Jean III, sacked Limburg and seized the castle of Herve in 1334. Lacking money, Duchess Jeanne of Brabant ceded the castle in 1384 to Jean de Gronsveld. The town was sacked in August 1465 by the troops of Liège, and once again in 1485 by the La Marck's party challenging the power of the Prince-Bishop of Liège. The town was severely damaged during the Religious Wars (1566-1654).
In the 17th century, the Kings of Spain transformed the Ban of
Herve into a Lordship, which was purchased in 1644 by Guillaume de
Caldenborg, drossart (intendant) of the Duchy of Limburg, for 40,000
pounds. The town of Herve was also transformed into a Lordship and sold
to Caldenborg's widow, Anne-Marie de Barbieus, for 13,000 pounds. The
town of Herve was purchased in 1656 by Robert d'Aspremont Lynden and
his lineage kept it until the French Revolution. The same lineage kept
the Ban of Herve until 1762, when it was ceded to Georges de
In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht reestablished peace and Empress Maria-Theresa significantly contributed to the development of Herve, where a college and several administrative services were set up. On 2 June 1785, the French politician Lebrun (guillotined in 1794) launched in Herve the Journal général de l'Europe, which was published until 1792. Abbot Fréville published also the short-lived (1789) Les éphémérides de l'humanité.
The French Revolution was a period of decline in Herve. Because of the abuses committed by the revolutionaries, the inhabitants of Herve supported Austria. The French entered Herve on 12 December 1792, damaged the perron symbolizing the civic rights and imposed heavy taxes. Accordingly, the Austrians were heartly welcomed in 1793. The French rule was reestablished on 20 September 1794 and lasted until the fall of the First Empire in 1815.
Citizens of Herve took part to the Belgian Independence War in 1830. The town of Herve was granted a Flag of Honour, which disappeared during the 1914 blaze, when the Germans burned 300 buildings, including the Town Hall, and slaughtered 40 civilians.
Battice was probably named after the old word batiches,
"land submitted to servitude". Before the administrative reform, the
municipality of Battice completely surrounded the town of Herve, where
civil rights had been granted near 1270. The castle of Crévecœur was
built in the 17th century; in the past, it was surrounded by ditches
and flanked with two square towers. The Jonas house is the only remaining part
of the former, famous castle of Xhéneumont.
The fort of Battice was besieged by the Germans from 10 to 22 May 1940. On 21 May, a bomb shot by a stuka broke down the main gate and killed 30. The survivors surrendered on 22 May at 6 AM.
Bolland (Bolan in 1221) is named after the brook that waters the village. Until the French Revolution, it was nominally ran by the Marquis d'Anvers, who did not really care and let the village live in a de facto independence. The chapel of Noblehaye, built in 1707 by Count de Lannoy and his wife Constance de Wignacourt, recalls a local legend: in 1600, mercenaries settling in the woods of Noblehaye saw a big light; they ran to it and saw a statue of the Blessed Virgin emerging from an oak trunk. The priest of Bolland brought back the statue to the parish church; however, the statue moved the next day to the oak trunk and it was impossible to remove it. The trunk became of popular place of pilgrimage and miracle. The tradition says that girls in desesperate need of a fiancé came secretely to the chapel and bit the entrance gate of the chapel. The castle of Bolland was inabited by famous families, such as Houffalize, Eynatten, Lannoy and Berlaymont. It belongs today to Baron Adolphe de Royer de Dour de Fraula. In the village of Sarémont, the St. Ann's chapel was built on the place where witches were strangled and burned in the 16th-17th century.
Chaineux is the ancient Cassanetum, in Latin "an oak wood". It was famous in the 17th-18th centuries for wool production. Pulleys used to lift the wool bales up to the attics can still be seen on the facade of several farms. The farm of Es-Bosse is the cradle of the family de Bosse, whose most famous member was the Jesuit father Barthélemy. The family was founded by the marriage of Simon Pierre Pasqueau and Anne-Marie Thomas on 10 February 1619; they took the name of the farm where they settled. Their son Simon-Pierre developed his father's textile business into a commercial empire. The Bosse are recalled by the local expression ritch comme on Débosse (as rich as a de Bosse).
Charneux was once nicknamed village des charmilles, the hornbeans' village. The chapel of Monty, built in 1719, is locally known as tchapele al Mizwête, the Shrew's chapel. The nickname might recall a small and nervous old woman who lived near the chapel and took care of it. The place called Bois del fiesses (The Festival's Wood) recalls the turnaments that allegedly were organized there in the 13th century by the lords of Bolland, Xhéneumont and Charneux. A 15-m high cross built there in 1913 overlooks the region, from an elevation of 269 m. The St. Henri's chapel was built in 1813 as a tribute to the priest Henri Defawes in the place called Trouspineu, the thorny hole. In 1937, a soldier from the fort of Battice said he had seen a "white woman" in that place; it was indeed a plain white cow moving its head in a hawthorn hedge. In the past, an old woman called the Warrimont fairy lived in the eponymic place; the one who saw here morphing into a swan would die within one year.
Grand-Rechain was known in 888 as Richeim ("Ric's estate"). Until 1797, Grand-Rechain was three times bigger than today because it included Lambermont and Wegnez. Today, Petit-Rechain (Small Rechain) is even bigger than Grand-Rechain (Great Rechain). The square of Grand-Rechain is planted with 12 plane trees honouring the 12 Apostles.
Julémont is locally said to have been named after a camp set up there
by Julius Caesar. More probably, the village was named Gislerimons
("Gisler's mount") after a colonist called Gisler.
Julémont is the birth village of Jean Bolland (1596-1665). Bolland studied in the famous Jesuite colleges of Maastricht and Antwerp and nlater in the University of Leuven, where he was appointed Professor. In the meantime, Father Heribert Rosweyde, from Antwerp, started to collect notes on the life of the saints. Rosweyde died in 1629 after 22 years of collection and was succeeded by Bolland. In 1643, Bolland, helped by several collaborators and foreign correspondents, published two volumes (2,500 pages) on the saints celebrated in January. The three February volumes were published in 1658; Bolland was so estimated that Pope Alexander VII wished to meet him. Unfortunately, he died from apoplexy in August 1665. His work has been continued by his disciples and is still maintained by the Société des Bollandistes.
Xhendelesse was known in the past for the relic of St. Alexander's
skull kept in the St. Alexander's chapel in Soiron. The reliquary was
offerred to the chapel by monk Jean-Nicolas Closset; after his death,
the reliquary was purchased by the Belgian state ans shown in the
Cinquentenaire Museum in Brussels. The place called Maison Brûlée (Burned House) recalls a war event of the Brabantian Revolution of
1789; during a fighting between the Belgian patriots and the Austrians,
Lieutenant-Colonel de Restaing was killed by a shooter hidden in a
house located near the street. The house was immediatly burned down,
killing 12. In 1787, the Cloris bridge was built on the brook making
the border of the Principality of Liège and the Duchy of Limburg; the
bridge was decorated by the Belle Pierre (Nice Stone) featuring
the shields of arms of the two states.
Xhendelesse and Sorin had once some 700-800 nail makers, locally called clawtis (in French, cloutiers, from clou, "a nail"). The six workshops of Xhendelesse produced shoe nails; this was a winter job for men and a all year job for women.
Ivan Sache, 11 February 2006
The flag of Herve, adopted on 12 May 1980 by the Municipal Council, is vertically divided blue-yellow.
The colours of the flag are taken from the municipal arms. Blue is placed along the hoist, as the colour of the field of the arms, while yellow is placed at fly, as the colour of the charge of the arms.
[Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones [w2v03]]
In an act dated 1270, the Mayor and the Municipal Councillors complained they had no
seal for their charters. On 29 August 1276, however, the
Councillors of "the Free Town of Herve" wrote they had
sealed the charter with the municipal seal, which unfortunately has
not been kept.
A document dated 4 April 1414, acknowledging the reception of 300 pounds of metal to be used to make a new bell, was sealed with the oldest known municipal seal. Although damaged, the seal clearly bears the lion of the Dukes of Limburg, with a forked tail, armed and crowned.
In the 16th century, the town of Herve used a new seal, whose
adoption date is unknown, composed of a shield charged with a perron surmounted
by a cross and flanked by letters "H" and "E". Behind the shield,
St. John the Baptist, haloed and holding a lamb in sinister, shows up
under an arcature. The caption is scel [modern word is
sceau] pour la franchise de Herve, therefore a seal for
the franchise of Herve. This seal was used on a charter of the St.
Denis Chapter on 2 May 1585, and on a document of the jail of
Mons on 25 April 1770.
At the end of the 18th century, the municipal seal was modified. The patron saint was kept, but the perron, from the arms of Liège, was suppressed and the lion of Limburg was reused.
During the French Revolution, the seal featured the emblems of the Republic, and, later, those of the Empire (the Imperial eagle), with the caption: Mairie de Herve, Municipal administration of Herve.
On 7 May 1818, the Municipal Council of Herve asked William I, King of the
Netherlands, the permission to readopt the former arms with the
caption La régence de la ville de Herve, the Regency of
the Town of Herve. These arms were granted by Royal Decree on 30
On 14 February 1842, King Léopold I allowed by Royal Decree the town of Herve "to keep using and bearing the arms used until now, as represented and painted here, which are: 'Azure, a Saint John the Baptist or, standing on a base of the same, charged with the arms of the province of Limburg, which are: Argent, a lion gules, the tail forked in saltire, armed and crowned or, langued Azure, the shield surmounted by a crown or with five florets".
Ivan Sache, 25 February 2006