History

Ambly

Ambly village, an appendage wedged between Forrières and Nassogne, only became part of the "beautiful province" at the time of the municipality merger. A long time ago, Ambly was the subject of disputes between the Duke of Luxembourg and the Prince-Bishop of Liège (1541). The difference was never definitively settled. However, Ambly remained the "fief" of the earldom of Rochefort, thus belonging to Namur, until 1976.
The name "Ambly" looks Celtic but probably has its origin in the term "Amilla", a species of daisy.
The presence of a 7th-century Mousty sur Javingle (chapel or oratory) is the oldest part of its historical heritage.

 

Bande

Bande village is built on a shale spur overlooking the Bonnier, a small tributary of the Wamme.
The village's name was first mentioned in 1189, in one of Pope Lucius III's bulls which confirms that "la villa de Bandres, tant des les eaux, les bois que les prés" (the town of Bandres, its water, wood and fields) belongs to St Hubert's Abbey. Since then and for six centuries the lord of Bande was the abbot of St Hubert, whereas the seigniory of Bande formed part first of the earldom of La Roche, then of the duchy of Luxembourg.
Bande municipality covers 1921 hectares in total of which 1000 hectares are forest. In the early seventeenth century, this forest was divided between the Count of la Roche and St Hubert's Abbey. In 1741, the inhabitants of Bande as a community received part of the forest reserved for the Abbey - Bande Wood - from which they could draw an income. Today, approximately 860 hectares are municipal woods.
It was the massacre perpetrated by the Nazis on Christmas Eve 1944 which gave the place unfortunate fame. That day, 34 young people were assassinated in a cowardly way in a ruined house near the main road, the Nationale 4. Several of them came from Bande, Grune and Roy.

 

Charneux

Charneux, a border town between Famenne and Ardenne, crossed by the ancient route from Rochefort to La Roche, has for centuries clung to the east slope of the Valley of the Great Invasions. It was indeed along the route of the main Nationale 4 road that many armed incursions swept into our country. The former Route Nationale 4, now the Route de Bastogne, witnessed the German army's last attempt to break through to Marche in December 1944.
Under the Ancien Régime, Charneux belonged to the seigniory of Waha. The early village probably nestled in the heart of a forest.
Thus, tradition states that the inhabitants of La Gaume, who had come to work in the wood, settled there and gradually populated the place known as Charneux.
In 1483, Charneux-Harsin was called "Cherdeneux" and was mentioned as an old parish back in 1558.
"-EUX" is an ending which, like "-OIS", indicates the existence of trees. It is said that the first houses of the village were built near a large hornbeam called "Tchaûrnale" in Walloon.
 


Chavanne

Chavanne was a seigniory with high justice powers which came under the feudal court of La Roche.
This small village used to be part of St Martin-lez-Waha parish and had nine houses, seven labourers, a wheelwright, two masons and a member of the lay clergy. The two lords of Grune and Jemeppe owned nearly all the territory which was then covered in broom, brambles and heather; they ended up renting this land to the inhabitants of Chavanne and Harsin. The latter cleared a large part of it. As a contribution, they paid the owners a setier of rye per "journal" (25 ares).

 

Harsin

Harsin used to be a seigniory which was an enclave within the provostship of Marche.
In 1302, it was taken from the state by Louis de Clermont, a descendent of St Louis, king of France, and a member of the house of Bourbon.
On 15 March 1672, letters patent granted Mr de Grüne full - high, middle and low - jurisdiction over the seigniory of Harsin as rent. Harsin and Le Thier Renard used to be fiefs under the feudal court of Marche.
On 8 May 1565, Servais, the lord of Ottrey, having taken over a quarter of the seigniory, transferred it to Mr Antoine de la Neuforge who took it over.
On 31 December 1571, Jehan de Chastroven, son of the late Thomas de Jemeppe, took over the other three quarters. He and Louis de Biron took over two-thirds of the eight sackfuls of oats of rent at Harsin. Jehan, the master, took on the other third.
At that already distant period, there were no communication routes so to speak. There were only paths between these small places and the towns of Marche and Saint-Hubert. This was the case until 1810. The mail coach from Marche to Saint-Hubert used to pass through Hedrée, Harsin and Nassogne. Hence it became necessary to improve the paths. We can say that it was only from 1821 that these villages were made habitable and practicable.
That same year, Mr Geoffroy, a forge master at Saint-Hubert, had to improve these paths as a result of his ore mining and the intense trade he practised and, at his own expense, had a bridge built over the Wamme at Harsin to allow his carts to bring the ore stored at La Rochette to the blast furnaces. This bridge was demolished and, on the place where it stood, the foundations of a church dedicated to St Anthony and the remains of an old cemetery were discovered.
In 1823, there was still some uncultivated land and those who agreed to pay contributions became its owners. Chroniclers say that Harsin is full of antiquities. Coins and a Roman temple have been found there along with various objects from the Bronze and Iron Ages, burials and some Frankish weapons. The Roman road to Nassogne passed quite near Harsin.

 

Forrières

Situated at the intersection of two large geological regions, the Famenne and the Ardenne, Forrières is crossed by the Lomme. It was probably the river which brought men to settle in our region. This place has been inhabited for a very long time as shown by the discovery of various items: a flint axe, sandstone polishers, etc.
The first document mentioning the name of Forrières dates from 746, when it was known as Ferario. The name changed over the centuries: Foriers in the 11th century, Forieres in the 14th, Foirier and Forire in the 16th and Foriere in the 18th.
The village used to be made up of two parishes, Forrières Notre-Dame and Forrières St Martin, one linked to the daughter church of Ambly and the other to that of Wavreville. In 1840 a joint church for both sections was built and the two parts of the village were linked by the construction of the Pont des Battes.
It was also in the second half of the 19th century that the village took on its current appearance as, until then, the wooded areas of today were covered with broom and heather.
Around 1900 the opening of the railway line between Jemelle and Arlon and the development of Jemelle station and workshops transformed the working life of the people of Forrières. A large proportion of the inhabitants, most of whom used to live off the land and from traditional crafts, was hired by the railway company and others benefited from the new transport facilities to seek work in the ministries and government departments.
We must also mention the presence of remains of a megalithic construction to the west of Forrières, at the place called "Inzomet" (at the summit). In the past, the devil's stones or "cuvelées" (burden) were made up of six dolmens (stone tables), made by groups of three stones, one forming a table over the other two. Thus there were eighteen stones, arranged in a circle.
Currently, two-thirds of the stones have been destroyed, probably for metalling the paths.
Today there are only six stones left on the site. There is a seventh in the courtyard of the Château Germain, currently the Dumonceau estate.
Since 1949, the site has been owned by the state.

Grune  
Built next to St Hubert's Forest, Grune dominates the valleys of the Wamme and the Wassoie. Although we cannot discover when the village was first inhabited, there is evidence for its existence from the High Middle Ages.
It is essentially a rural place and the villagers live from farming, the forest resources, wood working and regional activities.
Its history is intimately linked to that of its château, which in feudal times was the seat of a seigniory with high justice powers which was a full fief of the feudal court of the earldom of La Roche. Henri de Wellin, lord of Grunne, Crupet and Masbourg, was the first mentioned in a deed of 1290.

  Lesterny

Lesterny, a village overlooking the valley of the Lomme, already existed in 815. Indeed, it was at that date that it was given to St Hubert's monastery by Walcand, Bishop of Liège.
Before 1793, it belonged to the land of Mirwart and Orchimont district; during the French occupation (1794) it was part of the Sambre-et-Meuse department.
In 1818, Lesterny became part of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Under Dutch rule, in 1823, the village became part of Forrières municipality and it was not until 1907 that it became a separate municipality and remained one until the merger.

Etymology of Lesterny (in Walloon Lèstirni)

815: Lesternivis

12th century: Lesterneias, Listerniacas, the lands of Lestirnius.

Lesternivis comes from:

- Ster or Staer (Celtic) = river (Bullet and Delfontaine)

- Ny (niacum) = living place

- Which would mean "houses on a stream".

 

Masbourg
 
Masbourg is a village in the valley of the Masblette, and probably dates from the Merovingian period: in 912, the village's existence is attested by the form "Masburgh".
The village, with its hamlet Mormont, formed a seigniory three-quarters of which belonged to one lord (the de Villers, the d’Arenbergs, etc.) and the last quarter to another lord (the de Lardenoys, and then the Tassias). This seigniory belonged to the group of the Free Lands of Luxembourg until 1769. With this status, it enjoyed certain privileges and had its own high court of justice including a mayor, five aldermen, a clerk and a sergeant. After the French Revolution, the seigniory became a town then a municipality. From 1823 to 1858, Grupont village was part of Masbourg. At the merger of the municipalities, the village became part of Nassogne.
We must also note in the past the existence of a few small "industries": a mill, a brewery, a sawmill at Mormont, a treacle factory, a lead ore mine, etc.
 


Nassogne

A long time ago in the Ardenne forest, in a land where the worship of Arduinna had given way to the worship of the god Freyr, there was a fountain called Nassonia.
Several dwellings were put up around it and the whole place was called Nassonia, Nassoigne, Nassonacum, and later, Nassogne.
This takes us back to the very first centuries of our era, a period during which, in 372, several edicts from Emperor Valentinian are dated from Nassogne, a place bordering the Bavay-Trier road.
For more than 200 years, Nassogne remained forgotten until historians spoke again of it in around 600. It was then that a Scottish monk named Monon received an order from heaven to come and evangelise the people living near the Nassonia fountain.
The obedient Monon took his pilgrim's staff and set off.
Before coming to Ardenne, he decided to go to Rome to ask for assistance from St Peter and St Paul.
On his way, he met Jean l'Agneau, at that time Bishop of Tongres, who was coming back from Rome, and a close friendship developed between the two men.
On his return from his pilgrimage, Monon reached the place the angel had shown him. He immediately started his dual task of evangelism and clearing the land and, a pig having unearthed a small bell - it is assumed that the bell was a tintinnabulum lost by some convoy or other on the Trier to Bavay road - Monon used it to call the people to prayer in a humble oratory which he had put up on the site of the current Coumont chapel.
Although Monon made many friends, he also had enemies amongst those whose idols he had overturned and amongst the evildoers whose life of sin he had reproached.
These "bouquillons" (woodcutters) came together with the same evil aim and decided to get rid of Monon. They caught the hermit unawares while he was praying in his oratory and struck him dead with a spear, or possibly a wedge for splitting wood - this was in around 636.
When he heard of Monon's death, Jean l'Agneau, who had become Bishop of Maastricht, was very upset as he held the hermit of Nassogne in high esteem. He had a church built in his honour and ordered the canons of Huy to come and celebrate mass there each week. That church most likely stood on the site of the current building which became a collegiate church by a favour of Pepin the Short.
Indeed, Pepin the Short (715-768), the son of Charles Martel, heard about St Monon's miracles and martyrdom while hunting in the Ardennes and wanted to pay homage to him. He went into the church where the sacred relics were and, so legend says, witnessed himself several miracles performed on sick people. He prostrated himself on the stone in front of the saint's tomb. He donated his royal hat decorated with a large quantity of precious stones set in fine gold.
He founded a chapter of canons to whom he gave the tithes belonging to him between the Lesse and the Ourthe.
There is a story that, while passing through Nassogne, Pepin's retinue were thirsty and, as they could not find water, Pepin struck the rock with his sword and running water gushed forth. Since then the place at the entrance to Nassogne on the road from Forrières has been called the Pépinette.
In 825, the Bishop of Liège, Walcand, had St Hubert's body transported to Andage - current-day Saint-Hubert - and put Nassogne church under the prebends of the abbot of St Hubert. This lasted until 1086 when the Nassogne chapter refused to obey the abbot of St Hubert while recognising his pre-eminence in the assemblies called by papal authority.
Henry of Liège then transferred the right to award the prebends at Nassogne to St Peter's and St Hubert's church in Liège, while proclaiming the independence of his church.
Around 1253, the apostolic legates of Cardinal Hugues de Ste Sabine and Henry, Bishop of Liège, came to Nassogne to re-establish ecclesiastical discipline. They did not succeed fully and had to come back the following year.
At that time, the land of Nassogne belonged to Walleran, lord of Montjoie and Fahlcoumont. By a deed of April 1270, he promised to sell to Henry, count of Luxembourg and Margaret his wife, everything he owned at Nassogne in Ardennes: men, fields, woods all for the sum of 1476 Brabant pounds.
In January 1274, Gerard of Luxembourg, son of Walleran and lord of Durbuy, proclaimed the freedom of the seigniory of Nassogne. He declared the inhabitants free of the rights of mortmain, mismarriages, "plaids généraux" (court hearings), tallage, all customs and all forfeits; but he bound them by several obligations included in the freedom charter.
In 1364, Duke Wenceslas renewed Gerard of Luxembourg's action and again exempted the inhabitants of Nassogne from the right of mortmain.
Wenceslas paid his debts with the price of the land of Nassogne, as he sold it to Guillaume, count of Namur. It then passed to Everard de la Marck who became the defender of Nassogne whereas the duke of Luxembourg remained its ruler and the monks of St Hubert exercised religious power under the supremacy of the bishop of Liège.
On 1 August 1536, at the request of Collard Malaize, Abbot of St Hubert, a new charter was signed specifying the rights of the abbot of St Hubert, the lord of Mirwart and the inhabitants.
In this charter (record) there are details of the provisions to follow for the St Monon procession known as "les Remuages". Here is the text: "On the day of Les Remuages, the Voué (person who has taken a vow), the lord of Mirwart, comes to the canonical church in Nassogne and, before the high altar, in the presence of the provost and canons, the mayor and the high court; he promises to do his duty and to carry the body of St Monon to the chapel and to carry it back to his church on the high altar to his loyal power.
When he carries it back to the altar, he asks if he has fulfilled his duty well. The mayor and the justice tell him that what is done is his duty and the lord pays the justice their accustomed rights. When it is declared that the lord has done his duty, the abbot of St Hubert must pay him eight francs for his rights, and with this, the heirs and successors of Rasquin de Harzée are required to pay to the said lord, on the aforementioned day, four setiers of oats for his horses."
The tale is also told that two halberdiers used to command the Remuages procession. They would arrange the inhabitants of the parishes in alphabetical order, first of all those from Ambly and, when they reached the letter F, they would cry: "Back, you people of Forrières, who killed St Monon."
On 30 August 1634, Ferdinand of Bavaria, Prior-Bishop of Liège, renewed the ancient privileges of the land of Nassogne and gave them protection against any military excursions and providing lodgings for the military.
On 25 January 1650, Maximilian Henry, Prince of Liège, exempted the inhabitants of Nassogne from a tax which had been established in the Liège area, by means of a sum of silver which they gave him in 1656.
The chapter of canons set up by Pepin the Short still existed in the 17th century. On 13 August 1696, Gilles Moreau, the dean of the canons and vice provost, handed the post of provost to Nicolas Bouffeux, by order of the canons.
Nicolas Bouffeux died in 1726; his cope is still part of the collegiate church's treasures.
Around 1700, the chapter began to be divided and such dissension arose that on 10 May 1709 Pope Clement XI had to send the apostolic nuncio to Nassogne to restore order.
Several obligations which remain in force to this day date from this period. They include:
1. The tabernacle must be covered by a veil inside and a lamp must shine night and day before the Holy Eucharist, which must never be exposed unless the altar is lit by six wax candles.
2. The baptismal font must be placed near the church door and surrounded by a grill.
3. The feast of St Monon is to be celebrated on St Luke's day (18 October). A mass will be sung in his honour and a speech will be given whereas the box containing his bones will be exposed on the high altar. On the day of the translation (Remuages), the worship due to him will be given. The dances, feasts and other orgies are abolished and the provost will ensure these obligations are carried out.
4. The chapter will hire people to repair the church tower and roof and will have the internal walls replastered.
5. On Sundays and public holidays, a sermon will be given to the people as well as the catechism, by the prebend who celebrates the parish mass.
6. All the canons must attend matins and none may leave the choir before the end under any pretext.
7. The rosary must be recited in the church each Sunday afternoon.
8. The provost will have a gymnasium built and will visit the children's school twice a year. He will examine them in the presence of the master to note the progress of the pupils and the master.
These nuncios returned at unspecified periods to relight the sacred fire and communicate the orders of the spiritual leader of all Christendom.
The chapter of canons lasted until 1794 when Austrian domination gave way to French domination.
The goods from Pepin the Short and other donors were sold by the French government during the revolution.
Thus a page was turned in the history of Nassogne in which St Monon and the canons occupy an important place.
The collegiate church is still on the site of Pepin's church. It has been totally destroyed and rebuilt several times. Its last complete reconstruction was in 1661.
It was restored again following fires in 1673 and 1782.
It was damaged by bombing in the 1940-1945 war and restored in 1948-49.
These days, Nassogne is a village with more than 1000 inhabitants. It has lost its agricultural character almost entirely. The men are all either employees or workmen.
The village has been brightened up and many town dwellers come and spend their holidays in the hotel or in restored or newly-built houses. Their stay is made more pleasurable through the efforts of many local societies.

Extracts from the magazine "Terres entre Wamme et Lhomme" (Lands between Wamme and Lhomme) published by the Cercle d’Histoire de l’Entité de Nassogne (Nassogne History Club).
For more information: Mr Louis LANGE, chairman - 084/21.06.19

 

 

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