Last modified: 2007-12-22 by ivan sache
Keywords: fexhe-le-haut-clocher |
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Proposed municipal flag of Fexhe-le-Haut-Clocher - Image by Ivan Sache, 3 July 2007
The municipality of Fexhe-le-Haut-Clocher (3,066 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 1,925 ha) is located in Hesbaye, at mid distance of Liège and Waremme. The municipality of Fexhe-le-Haut-Clocher is made since 1964 of the former municipalities of Fexhe-le-Haut-Clocher, Freloux, Noville, Roloux and Voroux-Goreux.
Fexhe-le-Haut-Clocher (1,035 inh.; 634 ha) is the administrative seat
of the municipality. Fexhe most probably comes from the Latin word
fiscus, therefore indicating a Merovingian Royal estate; the
steeple (in French, clocher, from cloche, bell) of the parish
church is indeed not so high (in French, haut).
Freloux (57 inh.; 172 ha) was, before its incorporation into Fexhe, the smallest municipality in Belgium. Accordingly, all the villagers were invited to the Universal Exhibition of Brussels in 1958. The village is made of three farms surrounded by a few houses, the St. Thérèse chapel and the former town hall, most probably the smallest in Belgium, too.
Noville (370 inh.; 392 ha) was located close to the Amay-Tongeren Roman way. The village has only three streets.
Roloux (389 inh.; 326 ha) is another small village; its main monument is the St. Jean-Baptiste church.
Voroux-Goreux (1,157 inh.; 352 ha) is the biggest village of the municipality by its population. It is located close to the Liège-Bierset airport and has the only post office in the municipality.
Source: Municipal website
The Peace of Fexhe was signed on 18 June 1316. The Peace of Fexhe ended (for a while) years of civil war in the Principality of Liège that had started with the War of the Awans and the Waroux. The bloody vendetta between the two feudal lineage of Awans and Waroux had progressively degenerated into a revolt of the burghers of Liège against Prince-Bishop Alphonse de La Marck. On his excellent website on the Principality of Liège, Fabrice Muller gives different accounts on this event by historians.
Joseph Daris (Histoire du diocèse et de la principauté de Liège,
1890) explains that the peace was settled by the chapter of the St.
Lambert cathedral, upon request of the parties in conflict, which were
both close to exhaustion. It took only seven days of negociation to
reach an agreement. The Peace of Fexhe is indeed made of two treaties
dated from 18 June 1316, the first concerning the "constitution" (Daris
does not use quotes, but see below) of the country, and the second the
rights of the towns of the country. The two treaties were signed by the
Prince-Bishop of Liège, the Canons of the chapter, Count Arnoul of
Looz, his son the Count Louis of Chiny, several lords of lower rank and representatives of the towns of Liège, Huy, Dinant, Sint-Trond,
Tongeren, Maastricht, Fosses, Couvin and Thuin.
The "constitution" mostly states that:
- the franchises and ancient laws of the Good Towns (bonnes villes) and of the "common country" (pays commun) shall be maintained;
- everyone shall be judged by law and by sentence passed by municipal magistrates (échevins) or feudal men (justice court and feudal court), except in case of homicide, which remains in the Prince-Bishop's jurisdiction (the next day, the Prince-Bishop announced he would restrict his own right to the droit d'arsin, that is the right to burn down a murderer's house);
- the "country sense" (sens du pays), that is the three estates, shall declare if other cases belong to the Prince-Bishop's jurisdiction;
- the civil servants shall swear that they will judge anyone by law and by sentence
- the three estates might change the common law if "too wide, too strict or too narrow".
C. de Borman (Les échevins de la souveraine justice de Liège, 1903)
gives a similar historical account but adds a further interpretation of
the Peace. He claims that the Peace of Fexhe is commonly considered as
the cornerstone of the constitution of the Principality of Liège,
listing for the first time the three estates of the country: the
primary estate (Etat-primaire), made of the Canons, the Noble estate
(Etat-noble) made of the Counts of Looz and Chiny, together with 52
Knights and a Squire, and the third estate (Etat-tiers), made of the
representatives of the towns.
Ferdinand Hénaux (Histoire du Pays de Liège, 1874) calls the Peace of Fexhe "a true constitutional pact", transforming the former feudal relations between the Prince-Bishop and the country into political ones. He further adds that the Peace set up a centralized, representative government and guaranteed civil rights. According to Hénaux, the Peace of Fexhe made of the Principality of Liège a Nation (Patrie liégeoise), completely different from all the other feudal states of the German Empire.
Henri Pirenne (Histoire de Belgique, 1903) is much less enthusiastic
with the Peace of Fexhe, to which he denies any constitutional
character, considering it rather as a simple compromise between the
parties in conflict. Pirenne agrees with the chronicler of the Peace's
time Hocsem, who wrote that each party had added prescriptions of its
own in the Peace without real negociation. According to Pirenne, a main
flaw of the Peace is the lack of a clear definition of the limit of the
jurisdiction of the Prince-Bishop; however, he admits that the Peace
explicitely recognized the share of the power between the prince and
Godefroid Kurth (La Cité liégeoise au Moyen-Âge, 1909) compares the Peace of Fexhe to the English Magna Carta and to the Brabantian Chart of Cortenberg (issued and 1312 and based on the same principles as the Peace of Fexhe). He adds, however, that the Peace of Fexhe was originally nothing but a truce and did not suppress the arbitrary regime for ever, and agrees with Hocsem's comments, without following Pirenne's final judgement.
The original of the Peace of Fexhe was pinned on a pillar of the St. Lambert cathedral. It has been lost but several copies have been kept. The aforementioned authors give significant extract of the text.
Ivan Sache, 3 July 2007
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones the Heraldry and Vexillology Council
of the French Community made the following proposal for the flag of Fexhe-le-Haut-Clocher:
Divisé rouge sur blanc par une ligne brisée trois fois à angle droit, partant du troisième quart du bord supérieur et aboutissant au premier quart du bord inférieur.
The flag is divided red-white by a line broken three times at right angle, starting from the third fourth of the upper edge of the flag and reaching the first fourth of the lower edge of the flag.
The colours of the flag are taken from the arms, De gueules au lion d'argent, la queue fourchée et passée en sautoir, armé, lampassé et couronné d'or (Gules a lion argent, the tail forked and crossed per saltire, armed
langued and crowned or).
The five segments forming the broken line probably recall the five components of the municipality. The red part of the flag must also recall the "F" of Fexhe-le-Heut-Clocher.
Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 3 July 2007