Last modified: 2007-12-02 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Habay - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 22 September 2005
The municipality of Habay (7,903 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 10,364 ha) is located in
the east of the province of Luxembourg, 15 km west ofArlon. The municipality of Habay was formed in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Habay-la-Neuve, Habay-la-Vieille, Anlier, Hachy (in Luxemburgian, Haërzeg), Houdemont and Rulles.
Habay was once known as the "capital of iron" because of its forges, active from the XVIth century to the middle of the XIXth century along the river Rulles. Iron was then exported up to Russia and Indonesia. Around 1850, the industrial development of the coal-mining basin of Charleroi caused the decline of the forges, as it happened all over the province of Luxembourg.
Habay-la-Neuve (the New) is the administrative seat of the municipality. The name of Habay might come from Celtic hoba, "a sharecropping farm". In the Middle Ages, the village was divided in two domains each with a fortress, Bologne and Le Châtelet. The castle of Bologne, seat of a Provostship, was built by Otto de "Boulonia" in 1214 on the rocky spur dominating the pond and completely destroyed in 1558; the castle of Le Châtelet was a direct dependence of the Counts of Arlon. Bernard d'Everlange, lord of Le Châtelet, set up in 1564 the forges of Châtelet-Bas. In the XIXth century, the village had four important "iron factories", Le Prince, Le Pont d'Oye, Le Châtelet and Bologne. These forges used the wood from the forest of Anlier and the water of the river Rulles. The forges were transformed at the end of the XIXth century into sawmills and papermills and eventually disappeared.
Habay-la-Vieille (the Old) was also settled very early. The most important archeological finding there is the Gallo-Roman villa of Mageroy (Ist-IVth century). The village belonged to the County of Chiny from 940 to 1364 and was then transferred into the Duchy of Luxembourg. In the XVIIth century, it lost 2/3 of its population because of the Thirty Years' War and the black plague epidemic (1636). The first forges in the village were set up in 1613 by Herman de Trappé, from Liège, in a place he called La Trapperie. All the forges were closed in the late XIXth century.
Anlier already existed in 1065; a document says that Countess Adèle d'Arlon transferred her rights on the appointment of the priest of Anlier to the Abbot of Saint-Hubert. The parish of Anlier included the villages of Anlier, Habay-la-Neuve, Vlessart, Louftémont and Behême. In 1628, the curacy of Habay-la-Neuve seceded and a long struggle started between the curate of Habay and the priest of Anlier. The latter expelled his enemy in 1711, and women started to give the sacraments of the Church. To stop this shame, a cure was created in 1804 for Habay-la-Neuve and Vlessart.
Hachy is mentioned in the so-called Oswald's chronicle, which says that "on 13 September 1646, the domain of Thiaumont was set up, including a few villages in the provostship of Arlon". The domain included the "bans" of Thiaumont, Hachy and Nobressart. In the XVI-XIXth century, the lords of Pont d'Oye owned big farms in Hachy. The administrative center and jail of the domain of Thiaumont was the castle of Bois Rond (XVIIth century), destroyed by the French in 1793.
Houdemont was divided in the Middle Ages between the Provostships of Bologne (north) and Etalle (south), separated by the river Rulles. In 1258, Arnauld III, Count of Looz and Chiny granted a franchise to the village, which was totally incorporated in 1602 to the County of Chiny. In the beginning of the XIXth century, Houdemont, Rulles and Marbehan formed a single municipality. Houdemont seceded in 1876. All the villages of Habay were plundered during the First World War but the worst crimes were committed in Houdemont; on 24 August 1914, the Germans burned 61 out of the 110 houses of the village and killed 11 of its inhabitants.
Rulles was known in 1097 as Ruris. The tradition says that one of the
oldest churches of the region was then built in a place called Chaumont.
In the XIIth century, Rulles was divided between the Counties of Chiny
and Bar. The river Rulles had the same border function as in Houdemont.
Jean Hacher set up the first forge in Rulles in 1629 on river
Mandebras. This forge provided material for the refining factory of
Mellier-Haut, and disappeared in the XIXth century.
Marbehan had no forge but was famous for its fair, which took place on the confluency of the brook Chamissot and the river Mandebras. An hermit settled there in 1654; in 1659, a cloth market developed there and the place was named Bizeux (from Latin bisus, "cloth"). There were two fairs per year on 30 April and 30 August, whic attracted merchants from all over Belgium, France and Prussia. The edict of Joseph II suppressing hermitages caused the decline of the fairs. On 26 August 1788, a gang from Habay-la-Neuve looted the place, burning down the shops and the hermitage, in order to favour the fair of Habay. A Decree of the French Republic dated 1 Ventose of the Year XII officially suppressed the fairs of Bizeux. The village of Marbehan developed in the XIXth century with the building of the railway in 1859. The municipal councillors of Rulles preferred to have the station in Marbehan rather than in their village, which promoted the development of Marbehan.
Rulles is the birth town of Maurice Grevisse (1895-1980), the son of a blacksmith and a dressmaker. Initially a village school teacher, Grevisse learned, alone, Latin and Greek and then studied at the University of Liège. He was Doctor in Classic Philology in 1926. Still a teacher, Grevisse spent all his free time in writing a French grammar book for his students. His colleague and friends forwarded the book to the Duculot publishing house in Gembloux, and the famous book Le Bon Usage was published in 1936 (704 pages). There were several new released of Le Bon Usage; the ninth edition, released in 1973, had 1230 pages. Grevisse was awarded by the Belgian Royal Academy of French Language and Litterature and the French Academy. Beside the Bon Usage, he wrote 12 other books dedicated to the French language (for instance, an abridged version of Le Bon Usage entitled Le Français correct, 440 pages). Maurice Grevisse is still the absolute reference for French grammar; his book is more known as Le Grevisse as Le Bon Usage; you can expect to find there an answer to the most complicated points of the French grammar. Grevisse was succeded after his death by his son-in-law André Goosse, who still amends and increases Le Bon Usage.
The most famous industrial domain in Habay was the forge of Pont-d'Oye.
In 1644, Jeanne Petit was allowed to transform Pont-d'Oye into an
independent domain and to buile a castle, a chapel and a watermill. In
1656, she purchased the Prince's forge. On 9 February 1699, her
grand-daughter Jeanne Ersille de Montecuculli became Marchioness du
Pont-d'Oye. In the middle of the XVIIIth century, Charles-Christophe du
Bost-Moulin married Louise de Lambertye (1720-1773), the most famous
Marchioness du Pont-d'Oye. Her father was the brother of Queen of
France Maria Leczinska and a former general in the Polish army. Louise
had no gift for business but knew how to waste money. She organized
eccentric festivals on the domain and is said to have used horseshoes
made of silver for her horses. Accordingly, the forge went bankrupt and
its owners died in destitution. The domain was then taken over by the
creditors, who did not really care for it. The decline of Pont-d'Oye
was stopped in 1846 when Constant d'Hoffschmidt (1804-1873) transformed
the forge into a papermill, inaugurated by King Leopold I on 8 October
1851. Hoffschmidt was appointed Deputy to the National Congress in
1830; he was Vice-President of the Chamber in 1843-1845. When Minister
of Civil Engineeing (1845-1846), he favoured the development of railway
to Habay. From 1847 to 1852, Hoffschmidt was Minister of Foreign
The papermill was closed in 1884 and the domain fell into ruin. Baron Pierre Nothomb (1887-1966) bought the domain in 1932 and transformed it into an art center; in 1952, housing facilities were added to the center. Nothomb was Doctor in Law of the Catholic University of Leuven and Senator for the province of Luxembourg in 1937-1965. He was a novelist and poet; in his novels (Le Prince d'Olzheim, 1944-1952), he promotes a nationalism inspired by the French writer Maurice Barrès, making of Lotharingia the center of Europe and the place for the reconciliation of the Latin and Germanic cultures. Nothomb was a founding member of the Academy of Luxembourg and the Ardennes-Eifel Movement.
Source: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 22 September 2005
The municipal flag of Habay is vertically divided yellow-green with a
smaller horizontal stripe centered vertically in each of the two
fields, black in the yellow field and yellow in the green field.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag is similar to the proposal made by the Heradlry and Vexillology Council of the French Community as:
Deux laizes transversales jaune et verte, traversées d'une laize longitudinale mi-noire mi-jaune de largeur égale au cinquième du guindant.
The width of the smaller stripe is specified as 1/5th of the flag height.
The flag is based on the municipal arms of Habay, D'or à un chêne terrassé au naturel, englanté d'or et adextré d'un demi-sanglier de sable mouvant du fût (Or an oak on a terrace proper acorned or in dexter a half-boar sable).
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 22 September 2005