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Waremme (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)


Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Waremme

The municipality of Waremme (in Dutch, Borgworm; 14,198 inhabitants; 3,104 ha), located on the linguistic border between French and Dutch, is the capital of the region of Hesbaye. The municipality of Waremme is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Waremme, Bettincourt (in Dutch, Bettenhoven), Bleret, Bovenistier, Grand-Axhe, Lantremange and Oleye (in Dutch, Liek).

Waremme was mentioned for the first time in 965 but is probably much an older settlement. In 1078, Coutness Ermengarde, on which little is known, transferred to the Prince-Bishop of Liège the town of Waremme, including a castle, five mills and six breweries. Already a significant village, Waremme had 815 inhabitants in the beginning of the XIIIth century, when the town grew up around a market, a hall and a hospital. Waremme minted its own coins when Thibaut de Bar was Prince-Bishop (1306-1313). At that time, the town formed a square of c. 400 m in size, surrounded by the river Geer (in Dutch, Jeker) and city walls protected by the three gates of Liège, Sint-Truiden and Huy. A famous lord of Waremme was Guillaume II de Jeneffe (le bon et beau châtelain de Waremme), who was probably nice but not so good, since he was the leader of the Awans party during the fratricidal War of the Awans and the Waroux; one of the numerous battles of that war took place in Waremme, close to the Gate of Liège, in 1313.

In the XVIth century, Waremme was made one of the bonnes villes (Good Towns) of the Principality of Liège, acknowledging its development and strategic function of border town with Brabant. Waremme, then the only important town between Huy and Sint-Truiden, was ruled by two Mayors members of the Third Estate of Liège. Due to its location, the town was burned down three times, in 1213 and 1347 by the Duke of Brabant (so that nothing from that period has remained, including the numerous convents built inside the wall, demolished after the French conquest) and in 1691 by Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold. In 1748, an accidental blaze suppressed one quarter of the houses, the town hall, the school and two big farms.
In 1838, the railway station of Waremme was built on the new line Mechelen-Ans; a small industrial borough emerged between the Gate of Huy and the village of Longchamps, inclusing two sugar houses, a soap factory, a tobacco factory and a steam mill. The populatin of Waremme increased from 1,200 in 1815 to c. 3,000 in 1880 and 5,000 in 1949.

In 1947, the young Socialist representative Edmond Leburton (1915-1997), born in Lantremange, succeeded the "Old Mayor" Guillaume Joachim as the Mayor of Waremme, and remained so for the next 40 years. Leburton considerably contributed to the development of the town, which was nicknamed "Leburtown" by a witty journalist. Several times Minister, Leburton presided two governments, Leburton I, from 23 October 1973 to 25 April 1974, and Leburton II, from 26 January to 23 October 1973. Leburton was succeeded in 1987 by the Socialist Guy Coëme, born in Bettincourt in 1946; President of the Walloon Executive in 1987, Coëme was appointed Minister of the National Defense in 1988 and has to resign from all his political functions after the Augusta scandal in 1995 (known as the "Three Guys Scandal", involving Guy Coëme, Guy Mathot and Guy Spitaels). Sentenced to a three-year ban from any public function, Guy Coëme was elected again Mayor of Waremme in 2006. In 1985, Waremme was granted the honorific title of town (ville), a title that had been suppressed by the Dutch government in 1815.

Waremme is the birth town of the writer Hubert Stiernet (1863-1939), elected at the Royal Academy for French language and literature in 1924. Collaborator of several newspapers, such as La Wallonie, La Revue de Belgique, La Société nouvelle and La Jeune Belgique, Stiernet mostly wrote tales. In 1893, his Contes au perron described the lives of ordinary people. His next book, Histoires hantées (Haunted stories), published in 1906, still describing life in Hesbaye, was influenced by Poe and Hoffmann. In 1909, Stiernet wrote Contes à la nichée for his four children, which was a best-seller four times reprinted in 20 years. Le Roman du Tonnellier, written in 1921, is considered as Stiernet's masterpiece.

The castle of Longchamps is the most significant castle built in Empire style (1810) in Belgium. At that time, most of the castles in the Country of Liège were still built in Louis XVI style. Built for Baron Michel Laurent de Selys (1759-1837), appointed President of the new municipal administration of Liège in 1795 and Mayor of the town in 1800, the castle was famous for its parties.
Baron Edmond de Selys Longchamp (1813-1900) presided the Belgian Senate (1880-1884) but has remained famous as an entomologist, once the world's greatest authority on dragonflies and damselflies (order Odonates). His masterwork is the Monographie des Libellulidées d'Europe, coauthored with Hermann August Hagen and published in Brussels in 1840, but he published also articles on birds and mammalians and a big fauna of Belgium (Faune belge. Première partie. Indication méthodique des mammifères, oiseaux, reptiles et poissons, observés jusqu'ici en Belgique, 1842, 310 pages).

Source Municipal website - Texts by Maurice Joachim

Ivan Sache, 21 December 2007

Municipal flag of Waremme

According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, there is no municipal flag used in Waremme.

Pascal Vagnat, 21 December 2007