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Donceel (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-11-03 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Donceel]

Municipal flag of Donceel - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 23 March 2006

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Presentation of Donceel and its villages

The municipality of Donceel (2,835 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,337 ha) is a rural municipality located in the heart of the region of Hesbaye. The municipality of Donceel is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Donceel, Haneffe, Jeneffe and Limont.

Donceel is the smallest of the four villages constituting the municipality, built along a single street and the river Yerne. It was mentioned for the first time in 1034 in a diploma signed by Emperor Conrad II, who granted the free domain of Donceel to his vassal Thierry, Duke of Alsace. Donceel is quite far from Alsace, but the Duke's niece, Judith, was the wife of Count Gozelon, manager of the castle of Engis. With the Emperor's permission, Thierry granted Donceel to his niece and her husband. Gozelon transferred his domain to his brother Godefroid le Barbu, who was succeeded after his death, in 1084, by his wife Mathilde. Donceel was then known as Donumcyrici, which seems to be a corrupted form of Domnus Cyricus, "St. Cyril's (aka Cyrique) village". Donumcyrici was translated into common language as Doncyr. In Walloon, cir means "sky" (in French, ciel), so that the village was later called Donchiel, Doncheir, Donchier, Donckier and Donhierf.
When the domain was about to be sold, Henri de Verdun, Bishop of Liège, convinced the seller to cede it to the St. Jacques abbey in Donceel. In 1213, Duke of Brabant Henri I burnt in three days 40 villages, including Donceel, its church and its abbey. The abbey was burnt again in 1408 during the battle of Othée and rebuilt the next year. In 1456, Godefrein de Donceel bought two pieces of land near the Yerne and probably built there a castle. In the XVIIth century, the castle was transferred to the Hemricourt and then to the Chestret, who still own it.

Haneffe is a linear valley village located on the hillside of the Yerne. The name of the village is based on a Frankish toponym meaning "a sloppy plot near the watercourse". The domain of Haneffe included Donceel, Stier, Harduement and Ferrière; it was incorporated with the County of Moha to the Principality of Liège and became one of the 32 banner-bearing domains of the Principality. Thierry de Haneffe is mentioned on a chart dated 1097. In 1535, the domain was ceded to the Mirbicht and there was a struggle among different putative heirs; Philippe de Donceel eventually attacked the castle and was banned. The Knight Templars owned a commanderie in Haneffe.

Jeneffe is isolated from the three other villages, in spite of having been crossed in the Roman times by the Arlon-Tongeren way. It is a rural village that has kept several square farms from the late XVIII-XIXth century. Until the end of the Ancient Regime, the same lord was seigneur de Wareffe et châtelain de Waremme. In 1296, Guillaume de Jeneffe took part to the War of the Awans and the Waroux. The last lord of Jeneffe was Jean-Pierre Robert, Baron de Sélys.

Limont is located along the Liège-Hannut road. The donjon of Limont, aka the Knight's Tower, today completely ruined, was probably built in the XIIIth century. In the XVIII-XIXth centuries, Limont was a big village, of local significance; in 1805, it already had a doctor and a notary.


Ivan Sache, 23 March 2006

Municipal flag of Donceel

The municipal flag of Donceel is blue with six fleurs-de-lis placed 3, 2 and 1.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 27 January 1999 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 30 April 2004.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 23 March 2006