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Éghezée (Municipality, Province of Namur, Belgium)

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

The municipality of Éghezéee (14,530 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 10,281 ha) is the northernmost municipality in the Province of Namur, located 15 km north of Namur. The municipality of Éghezée is made since 1976 of the former rural municipalities of Éghezée, Aische-en-Refail, Bolinne, Boneffe, Branchon, Dhuy, Hanret, Leuze, Liernu, Longchamps, Mehaigne, Noville-sur-Mehaigne, Saint-Germain, Taviers, Upigny and Warêt-la-Chaussée.

Éghezée (2,164 inh.; 571 ha), the administrative center of the municipality, was ruled in the Middle Ages by a local family, known since Guillaume d'Éghezée (1145-1192), and was eventually purchased by Count of Namur Guillaume II in 1363. In the XVIIIth century, Éghezée belonged to the Woelmont family, also owner of Mehaigne and Saint-Germain.

Aische-en-Refail (1,087 inh.; 893 ha) was split in the past between the County of Namur and the Duchy of Brabant. In 1462, the Vaulx family became one of the most important in the County of Namur by merging the castle of Aische (XIth century) and their possessions to form the domain of Aische. In 1855, 95 villagers, that is one-tenth of the population of the village, emigrated to Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA.

Bolinne (785 inh.; 510 ha) incorporated the village of Harlue in 1810. Harlue is named after the river Herla, tributary of the Mehaigne, which watered the moats of the castle. Antoine de Liedekerke purchased the domain of Harlue in 1664, which has never been sold since then.

Boneffe (375 inh.; 619 ha) originally belonged to the Principality of Liège but was transferred to the County of Namur and became a main source of quarrel with the Duchy of Brabant. A Cistercian monastery, founded in the XIIIth century, never blossomed because of its strategical location. On the eve of the battle of Waterloo, the Prussian General Blücher reviewed his troops in Boneffe.

Branchon (448 inh.; 510 ha) belonged to the County of Namur. The local family was important in the XIII-XIVth centuries, giving several Mayors and Bailiffs in Namur, Bouvignes and Wasseiges. In the past, Branchon was straddled by the Zaman train, which linked the sugarmills of Boneffe and Ambresin to the Namur-Tienen line, and was inaugurated on 3 May 1880 by King Léopold II. The train was named after its founder, the industrial and Senator Joseph Zaman (1812-1894). The Zaman train was stolen by the Germans in 1917 and the line was eventually suppressed in 1923.

Dhuy (1,168 inh.; 1,059 ha) is said to have been founded at the end of the XIth century by colonists from Reims (Champagne, France), who brought their patron St. Remi and named the village after the river Dhuys, a tributary of the Marne. Dhuy was originally split into three domains, one belonging to the County of Namur and the two other to the Duchy of Brabant; they were eventually united in 1421 by Philippe of Namur. In the XVIth century, Philippe de Dhuy supported the anti-Spanish revolt and was captured and executed on 2 June 1568. In 1712, Dhuy became a Viscounty; like Harlue, it was never sold.

Hanret (873 inh.; 875 ha) mostly belonged to the St. Jacques abbey in Liège, following a donation made in 1016 by Bishop of Liège Balderic. The Christ of the calvary, built in 1698, was deliberately broken in 1798 by a villager; the legend says that a nail from the statue hit the desecrater's face, causing him a lethal ulcer. The new calvary, rebuilt in 1835, bears the writing: "In the days of the persecution, an ungodly person was punished here". The cyclist race of Hanret was run from 1950 to 1961 and was won five times by Rik Van Steenbergen (1956-1960).

Leuze (2,348 inh.; 832 ha.), probably from the Celtic word lodusa, "mud", mostly belonged to the County of Namur. In a recent past, Leuze was a local center of trade because of its railway station; its inhabitants considered themsleves as more refined than their neighbours from the smaller villages.

Liernu (818 inh.; 623 ha) belonged to the County of Namur. The village is nationally famous for the Big Oak (Gros Chêne), considered as the biggest and probably oldest (c. 1,000 years) in Belgium. The height of the tree is 19 m, the width of its crown is 20 m, its perimeter near the ground is 14.24 m and is still 10.82 m one meter above the ground. In 1838, the local priest dedicated the venerable oak to St. Anthony and placed a statue of the saint in a hollow of the tree; until the beginning of the XXth century, candles were lit in front of the statue to invoke the saint's protection againts pig diseases. On 4 April 1939, a Royal Decree prescribed the protection of the tree. The statue was stolen on 21 August 1970, whereas the Brotherhood of the Big Oak was created in 1978 to promote and protect the tree, as well as the local heritage.

Longchamps (752 inh.; 408 ha) was an enclave in the County of Namur, depending on the Barony of Bierbeek, itself part of the Duchy of Aarschot, in Brabant. In 1652, Longchamps became a Barony granted by King Philip IV to Hubert of Corswarem.

Mehaigne (553 inh.; 476 ha) was transferred in 1211 to the County of Namur by Theodoric de Walcourt, Count of Montagu. The rights on the parish church were the source of a long conflict between the abbeys of Malonne and Salzinnes. Mehaigne was purchased in 1515 by the Argenteau family, that kept it until 1785.

Noville-sur-Mehaigne (762 inh.; 706 ha) belonged to the County of Namur but was part of the Province of Brabant until the 1976 municipal reform.

Saint-Germain (475 inh.; 705 ha) developed around a church said to have been built near a miraculous fountain set up by St. Germain and still used as a pilgrimage place; when a child is sick, his cloth is thrown into the fountain and the part of the cloth sinking first gives the location of the "St. Germain's disease"; the child has then to wear the dried cloth for the next nine days. The farms of Matignée and Jennevaux, whose names derive from Mars and Janus, respectively, recall the very ancient settlement of the region. Saint-Germain and its dependencies belonged to the County of Namur. The chapel located near the entrance of the village was built in 1856, when the village was spared a big thunderstorm, thanks to the protection of the Blessed Virgin; since then, a thunderstorm coming from Éghezée is said "to be cut into two pieces by the Blessed Virgin".

Taviers (739 inh.; 550 ha) , maybe named after a Roman tavern (taberna), whose probable remains have been found in 1953, belonged to the County of Namur. The domain was eventually transferred to the Merode family; its current owners are the princesses Marie-Salvatrix-Louise-Gabriel-Ghislaine de Merode and Elisabeth -Alyette-Gabriel-Ghislaine de Merode.

Upigny (250 inh.; 339 ha) was already known, as Hulpiciacum, in 800. The domain was transferred in 1620 to Jean Gerlays, made Count by Philip IV in 1623 and appointed President of the Provincial Council of Namur in 1628.

Warêt-la-Chaussée (1,080 inh.; 604 ha) belonged to the County of Namur.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 18 June 2007

Municipal flag of Éghezée

According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, Éghezée does not have a flag.

Pascal Vagnat, 18 June 2007