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Modave (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)

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

Municipal flag of Modave - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 5 November 2006

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Presentation of Modave

The municipality of Modave (3,719 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 4,040 ha) is located on the border with the Province of Namur, 10 km of Huy and 30 km of Liège.
The municipality is watered by river Hoyoux and its tributaries whose valleys, locally called chavées, are separated by small ridges, locally called tiges. The municipality of Modave is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Modave, Vierset, Strée, Outrelouxhe and Rausa.

Prehistorical remains have been found in several places in Modave, especially in the Trou al Wess in Petit-Modave and in the Great Wood of Barse. In the Gallo-Roman times, there was a shrine dedicated to the Gaul goddess Viradechtis on the present day's site of the St. Geneviève fountain. The Gallo-Roman colonization is still present in thetoponymy: Survillers is related to a villa, Camp Romain to a camp and Voie des Romains to a way. Strée was named after the way (strata) linking Tongeren to Arlon, which crossed the Meuse in Ombret-Rausa.
Most of the hamlets of Modave appeared during the Merovingian times. There were feudal domains in Linchet, Grand-Modave, Petit-Modave, Barse, Vierset and Strée. Outrelouxhe was part of the lordship of Abée, whereas Rausa depended on the chapter of the collegiate church of Amay. The rocky spurs dominating the valley of Hoyoux were crowned with fortresses, such as the castle of Barse (destroyed by the burghers of Huy in 1314), the castle of Vierset (burned down in 1267), the square donjon of Roiseux and the donjon of the castle of Modave. The Romanesque churches of Modave, Limet and Strée were built in the XII-XIIIth century.
In the XVIIIth century, several square farms and fortified farms typical of the region of Condroz were built. In the XIXth century, coal and iron mining was replaced by stone extraction and the related industries - such as a lime kilns in Strée and Outrelouxhe and marble sawmills in Vierset-Barse. Several workshops developed along the valley of Hoyoux, such as grain mills, rolling mills, paper mills, sawmills. The cooperative and workers' movement blossomed, whose most famous representative was the stone-cutter Georges Hubin, who was State Minister.
Léopold II ordered the harnessing of the sourcewater of Modave in order to provide Brussels with drinkable water.

The oldest mention of a "lord" of Modave (c. 1230) is found in Hemricourt and Jean d'Outremeuse as Jean de Modave, son of Conrad de Visé. Since he is listed as Jean de Modave and not Lord de Modave, he was probably not the owner of the domain of Modave. At that time, the genuine lord of Modave was Wauthier I de Modave, who signed an agreement on the tithe with the chapter of the St. Denis church in Liège in 1233. He was succeeded by his son Henri de Modave, who was Grand Marshal of the Prince-Bishop of Liège Jean d'Enghien and was involved in the so-called Cow's War that ruined Condroz. The house of Modave extincted in 1553 with the death of Jean de Modave, husband of Jeanne de Spontin, and the title was transferred to Jean de Modave's nephew Jean de Haultepenne.

In 1642, Modave was purchased by Jean de Marchin, Lieutenant-Governor of the castle of Huy. He was succeeded by his son Jean-Gaspard-Ferdinand de Marchin (1601-1673), who served in the Liège regiment of Tilly and the Prince of Condé. When Condé was disgraced after the failure of the Fronde movement, Marchin was jailed for 13 months in the fortress of Perpignan. Condé revolted again and set up an alliance with the Netherlands; Marchin joined him in Namur but refused to lead his troops in France and Lorraine, wanting to remain neutral. After the 1653 peace, Marchin rejected the amnistia and went to Spain, where Philip IV appointed him Captain General. In 1658, Charles II made him Knight of the Garter and Léopold I appointed him Count of the Holy Empire. When the Treaty of Pyrénées was signed, Condé eventually went back to France; Marchin's last campaign in Portugal (1663-1664) was disastrous and he came back eventually in Modave. He rebuilt the castle, which had been burned by the Duke of Lorraine in 1651.
In 1667-1668, Marchin ordered the building of an hydaulic engine to lift water from the Hoyoux up to the castle's fountains, located 50 m higher (in elevation); the tower used as the lift is still partially visible. The tradition says that the engine was made by Rennequin Sualem, a carpenter born in Jemeppe in 1645. This engine is the model of the huge engine that lifted the waters from the Seine to the palace of Versailles, 150 m higher, known as machine de Marly. It is usually admitted that the inventor of the machine de Marly is the Baron de Ville. Arnold de Ville had close relationships with the Counts of Marchin; his cousin Anne-Marguerite de Ville, lived in Survillers. The tradition, once again, says that Ville observed the Modave engine and copied its plans. He was informed by Jean-Ferdinand de Marchin (see below) that Louis XIV and Colbert wanted to lift water from the Seine to Versailles. Other versions of the tradition, differring in the details, claim that Ville appointed Sualem, who came to Versailles and explained the mechanism of the engine to the king. Anyway, Ville was awarded by the king a grant of 100,000 pounds, a manor located near the machine, and the office of governor of the machine, with an annuity of 6,000 pounds.

The last lord of Modave from the Marchin lineage was Jean-Ferdinand, who succeeded his father in 1673. The young count had little interest in Modave since he had obtained the French nationality in 1661. He disposed of Modave in 1682 to the benefit of Maximilian-Henri of Bavaria, Archbishop and Elector of Cologne, and started a brilliant career in the French Army. Marchin was appointed Marshal of France in 1703, helped Villars in 1705 to repell the Imperial troops beyond the Rhine and died during the siege of Turin in 1706.
In 1684, the castle of Modave was transferred to Guillaume Egon, Prince of Fürstenberg, Bishop and Elector of Strasbourg. Fürstenberg expected to be elected Elector of Cologne and Prince-Bishop of Liège, with the support of Louis XIV, but nothing happened. In the contrary, he was declared traitor to the Empire and exiled to France, where he died in poverty in the abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris in 1704. In 1706, the former councillor of Fürstenberg and his main creditor, Arnold de Ville, was granted the castle of Modave, where he resided most of the time and died in 1722. In 1730, Modave was transferred by marriage to the family of Montmorency.
In 1941, the CIBE (Compagnie Intercommunale Bruxelloise des Eaux) purchased the castle of Modave to secure the harnessings located in the park of the castle.


Ivan Sache, 5 November 2006

Municipal flag of Modave

The municipal flag of Modave is horizontally divided white-blue with the municipal coat of arms overall.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 26 March 1992 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 12 August 1992, as Parti blanc et bleu chargé au centre de l'écu communal occupant le tiers du battant.
The arms of Modave are D'argent au lion d'azur ("Argent a lion azure").

The historical account of the lords of Modave says that the arms of the lords of Modave were D'argent au lion d'azur couronné, armé et lampassé d'or, aiant sur le timbre une couronne fleuronnée, pour cymier un lion naissant et pour tenants deux hommes sauvages, couronnés et centurés de branches et feuillages au naturel (Argent a lion azure crowned armed and langued or [...]).
Similar arms are shown on the tombstone of Grand Bailiff of Condroz Jean de Modave (1506-1558) and his wife Jeanne de Spontin, located in the church of Modave.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 5 November 2006