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Châtelet (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-11-03 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Châtelet

The municipality of Châtelet (35,813 inhabitants on 1 July 2007; 2,703 ha) is bordering Charleroi easterly. The municipality of Châtelet is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Châtelet, Bouffioulx and Châtelineau.

In the Carolingian times, Châtelet belonged to the villa of Pont-de-Loup. In the early XIIth century, it was listed among the possessions of the St. Lambert Chapter in Liège. In 1220, the Prince-Bishop of Liège granted municipal rights and the title of bonne ville (Good Town) to Châtelet, which are symbolized by a perron (like in Liège). The justice court, presided by a Baillif representing the Chapter appointed two Mayors from a list of five candidated proposed by the burghers. In 1752, a new regulation restricted the role of the burghers in the appointment of the Mayors.
Because of its bridge over the Sambre, Châtelet was often crossed and sacked by troops, for instance in 1408, 1430, 1457 and 1578. The first city walls were built in 1597, in spite of having been decided in 1578. They were suppressed by the Spanish garrison of Charleroi in 1693. At that time, Châtelet as a military place had already started to decline, following the building of the fortress of Charleroi in 1666. The main traditional industries in Châtelet were pottery and tannery. Coal was already extracted in the XIVth century; in the XIXth century, Châtelet became a main industrial site with collieries, smelting furnaces and rolling mills, all closed now.

Châtelet is the birth town of the painter Pierre Paulus (1881-1959). Born in an artists' family, Paulus was influenced by the French Impressionists and the Luminist school of Emile Claus (1849-1924); Paulus' first paintings are brightly coloured landscapes. After the death of the realist and social painter Constantin Meunier (1831-1905), Paulus painted his first scenes of the industrial boroughs located along the Sambre. The painter became a close friend of the Walloon patriot Jules Destrée (1863-1936) and designed in 1913 the coq hardi, the Walloon emblem shown on the flag of Wallonia. In 1911, he presented one of his masterpieces, the realist and romantic Jeunesse (Youth) in the Salon d'art moderne in the Exhibition of Charleroi. In his later works, Paulus moved to expressionism, painting with a palette knife hieratic miners and iron workers located in an heavy and dark background. Eugène Paulus, the painter's brother, realized in 1923 the ceramics representing brewery, justice, metallurgy, coat of arms, arts and pottery that decorate the facade of the XVIIIth-century town hall of Châtelet.
Another famous Belgian painter, René Magritte (1898-1967), lived in Châtelet from 1904 to 1917, mostly in a Art Deco house designed by his father Léopold in 1911, today the Magritte House. Magritte is remembered in the town by a pipe and a fountain made of a hawk's bell, two famous elements of his paintings.
The musician Jean Guyot (1512-1588) was born in Châtelet. He studied arts at the University of Leuven and was appointed Cantor in the St. Lambert cathedral in Liège around 1545. In 1563, he served as Cantor in the Imperial court in Vienna but came back to St. Lambert the next year. Considered as a good musician by his contemporaries, Guyot wrote song, motets and poems.


Ivan Sache, 5 June 2007

Municipal flag of Châtelet

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

Pascal Vagnat, 5 June 2007