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Riemst (Municipality, Province of Limburg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-04-26 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Riemst]

Municipal flag of Riemst - Image by Filip van Laenen, 12 October 2001

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Presentation of Riemst and its villages

The municipality of Riemst (16,076 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 5,788 ha) is located in south-eastern Limburg, east of Tongeren, on the borders with Dutch Limburg and with the Province of Liège. The municipality of Riemst is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Riemst, Genoelselderen, Herderen, Kanne, Membruggen, Millen, Val-Meer, Vlijtingen, Vroenhoven and Zichen-Zussen-Bolder.

Riemst (1,685 inh.; 386 ha) is a very ancient settlement, as proved by remains of striped ceramics dated 3000 BC, as well as by remains of the Gallo-Roman and Merovingian periods. In 1935, 55 artefacts from a necropolis, dated back to the IInd century AD, were found close to the main Roman way Tongeren-Maastricht (today the RN79 road), on the probable site of a levelled tumulus. A treasure of 200 coins from 260-270 was also found in the village.
Riemst was mentioned for the first time as Rumanzeis in 965, later transformed into Reimost, Rimest and eventually, in 1524, into Riemst. In the XIII-XIVth centuries, the domain of Riemst belonged to the County of Loon, incorporated into the Principality of Liège in 1366. In 1766, the Prince-Bishop of Liège transferred Riemst to Count J. de Méan and later to Baron de Sluse, Canon of the St. Lambert chapter in Liège.
The town was ruined several times by epidemics (1529 and 1600) and mostly during sacks by troops heading to Maastricht (1579-1585, 1632, 1673-1676, 1747).

Genoelselderen (463 inh.; 252 ha; therefore the smallest component of Riemst) was a Gallo-Roman settlement located north of the Tongeren-Maastricht way. In 1200, the domain of Aldor / Heldren (mentioned in 1157) was split into two domains belonging to the County of Loon: 's Herenelderen, named after lord (Heren) Willem, and Genoelselderen, known as Elderis Godenoli in 1265. The prefix Genoels recall the first lord, Godenoel I (d. 1305), builder of the castle and buried in the parish church together with his wife Marula (d. 1300).
The powerful Elderen lineage kept the domain for 11 generations, until 1718. The lord of Elderen was once Bailiff of Loon and Grand Bailiff of Bilzen. Jan-Lodewijk of Elderen was Prince-Bishop of Liège from 1688 to 1694. His elder brother, Edmond Willem, was the last male member of the lineage. The domain was transferred in 1754 to the Borchgrave family.
Genoelselderen, Ketsingen, 's Herenelderen and Membruggen were merged in 1971 to form the municipality of Elderen, which was suppressed in 1976: Genoelselderen and Membruggen were incorporated to Riemst, while Ketsingen and 's Herenelederen was incorporated into Tongeren.

Herderen (1,452 inh.; 516 ha), located just north of the Tongeren-Maastricht way, was also settled very early. The village emerged as Hirtheren in 1096 and Herdines in 1125, two names probably related with the Middle Dutch word herd, "wood". The village belonged to the County of Loon and was transferred in 1766 to the Count of Borchgrave, and later to the Baron de Sluse. The tradition says that King of France Louis XV spent the night after the battle of Lafelt (1747) in a farm located in Herderen. The highest point of the village is the water castle (130 m asl).

Kanne (1,203 inh.; 362 ha), known as Cannes in 1096, is also an ancient settlement. The village was split into two domains, Opkanne (Upper Kanne), belonging to the Prince-Bishop of Liège, who transferred it to the St. Martin chapter, and Neerkanne (Lower Kanne), a free domain owned successively by several families. From 1749 to 1843, Opkanne and Neerkanne were two distinct municipalities. They were merged in 1843 to form Kanne, a part of Neerkanne, including the castle of the lords of Neerkanne, being incorporated to the Dutch municipality of Wolder.

Membrugge (790 inh.; 320 ha) was built on the site of a Gallo-Roman villa (IInd-IIIrd centuries AD), excavated in 1952, located not far from the Tongeren-Maastricht way. The village was mentioned for the first time as Membrughes in 1356, later changed to Mommerken (1385), a name recalling the wet (-meer) and marshy (-broek) soil on which the settlement was set up. The early settlement, probably in the Prehistoric time, was indeed located on the border of the dry, chalky plateau and of the water-rich, low area. In the XIIIth century, Membrugge, known as Meummerken (a name still used locally) was a greater domain in the County of Loon. In 1766, the domain was transferred to the Count of Borchgrave. The court of Membrugge was allowed to sentence to death and the village had gallows.

Millen was also built on a Gallo-Roman site, the remains of three Gallo-Roman villae having been found there in 1962. The village was mentioned for the first time in 1143 as Milina, a domain in the County of Loon. The oldest known lord of Millen is Walterus de Milne, the Seneschal of Count of Loon Lodewijk II. The lords, who later belonged to different lineages, lived in the Gothical water castle (waterbucht), which was rebuilt in the XVIIth century in Maas style.

Val-Meer (509 ha) is located south of the Tongeren-Maastricht way. Gallo-Romains remains were found on the Meerberg and in the Bolderstraat. Until the French Revolution, the village was divided into two independent entities, Fall and Mheer. Fall, mentioned for the first time in 1147, belonged to the County of Loon and was ran by the Bailiff of Bilzen. Mheer, together with Bolder, formed another domain in the County of Loon, owned in the XIVth century by the van Guygoven family, who sold it in 1588 to the powerful de Méan family.

Vlijtingen (2,477 inh.; 883 ha) is the richest part of Riemst for archeological findings. Remains of Neandertalians have been found, as well as artifacts from the Ages of Stone and Iron and from the Gallo-Roman period. Merovingian remains definitively prove that the site of Vlijtingen has been continuously settled since the earliest ages. In the Middle Ages, Vlijtingen and its church belonged to the domain of Maastricht, and therefore developed independently from the other components of Riemst, that belonged to the County of Loon.
Vlijtingen was one of the eleven banken transterred to the St. Servaas Chapter by the German Emperor Henry IV, as confirmed in a Bull by Pope Innocentus II in 1139. Directly ran by the German Emperor (at least theoretically), the eleven villages formed enclaves inside the County of Loon, and, later, inside the Principality of Liège. The battlefield of Lafelt (1747) is located near the hamlet of the same name, part of Vlijtingen.

Vroenhoven (1,636 inh.) was already settled in the later Age of Stone, as proved by striped ceramics found in Heukelom and near the water tower. In the Middle Ages, the village was known as Vroenhof, a domain that had the same status as Vlijtingen and included Hekelom, Montenaken, Lenculen (a domain located in Maastricht intra muros) and the hamlet of Wylre. In 1206, the German Emperor Henri II transferred the town of Maastricht and the domain of Vroenhoven to the Duke of Brabant. Vroenhoven formed one of the eight enclaves of Brabant inside the County of Loon. After the fall of Maastricht in 1632, Vroenhof was incorporated into the United Provinces. In 1839, Limburg was split between Belgium and the Netherlands, so was Vroenhoven. Montenaken and Heukelom remained in Belgium and were merged to form the municipality of Vroenhoven, while Old Vroenhoven (Wylre and Wolder) was transferred to the Netherlands and eventually incorporated into Maastricht in 1919.

Zichen-Zussen-Bolder (2,943 inh.) was formed in 1796 by the merging of the old twin village of Zichen-Zussen with the village of Bolder. The village was famous for mushroom growing, housed in the labyrinthic caves resulting of marl extraction. In 1958, 18 workers were killed when the Roosburg Hill caved down and new, aboveground production techniques were designed, ending the monopole on mushroom production hold by the village.
Already settled in the Gallo-Roman times, the domains of Zichen and Zussen were mentioned for the first time in 1139, as parts of the County of Loon. In 1482, the Battle of Zichen opposed the militia of Maastricht to the partisans of Evrard van der Marck, during which 500 were killed. In 1509, Evrard transferred Zichen and Zussen to the St. Servaas Chapter in Maastricht.
Bolder formed, together with Meer, another domain in the County of Loon, owned by the van Guygoven family and later by the de Méan family.

Source: Geschied- en Oudheidkundige kringen van Millen en Vlijtingen website

Ivan Sache, 20 October 2007

Municipal flag of Riemst

The municipal flag of Riemst is horizontally divided white-red-yellow.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 9 May 1985, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 3 June 1985 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986.
The colours of the flag are taken from the municipal arms.

The municipal website shows the coat of arms as "Tierced per mantle; 1. Barruly ten pieces or and gules; 2. Or a double-headed eagle sable beaked langued and armed gules; 3. Gules a St. Servaas' key argent".
The arms were designed after historical research performed by the local historical circle Geschied- en Oudheidkundige kringen van Millen en Vlijtingen, helped by J. Grauwels, archivist with the State Archives in Hasselt. The subsequent adoption procedure was ran by Piet Peumans and H. Warlop, archivist with the State Archives in Kortrijk.

The components of the municipality were split into three groups according to their history:
- 1. Genoelselderen, Herderen, Membruggen, Riemst, Val-Meer (Val) and Meer (Bolder), parts of the County of Loon: to be represented by the arms of the County of Loon ("Barruly ten pieces or and gules"), in the dexter part of the shield;
- 2. Vlijtingen, part of Brabant, one of the eleven banken of the St. Servaas Chapter; Zichen-Zussen-Bolder, purchased in 1505 by the St. Servaas Chapter: to be represented by St. Servaas' key argent on a field gules, in the basis of the shield;
- 3. Kanne, part of the Principality of Liège; and Millen, ruled by the Higher Council of Liège; to be represented by a double-headed eagle sable, beaked, langued and armed gules, on a field or, in the sinister part of the shield.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 20 October 2007