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Marchin (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-09-06 by ivan sache
Keywords: marchin | fish (red) | barbel | modave |
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[Flag of Marchin]

Municipal flag of Marchin - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 24 March 2007

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Presentation of Marchin

The municipality of Marchin (5,143 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,849 ha) is located in the region of Condroz, south of Huy. The municipality of Marchin is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Marchin, Grand-Marchin and Vyle-Tharoul.

Grand-Marchin is famous for its twisted church steeple, whose skeleton was progressively twisted by wind. When the steeple was completely destroyed by lightning, it was decided to rebuild it as it was before, that is twisted. The Charpente et Construction Bois company, from Braine-le-Château, was commissioned to design the new skeleton. The new steeple was eventually placed on 2 July 2005. Impressive images of the building site can be seen on the company website.
There were once famous Counts of Marchin, who lived in a castle located in the neighbouring town of Modave.

Ivan Sache, 24 March 2007

Municipal flag of Marchin

The municipal flag of Marchin is horizontally divided red-white-red (1:2:1) with a red fish placed vertically in the white stripe.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was proposed by the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community as Trois laizes rouge, blanche et rouge (1-2-1), la blanche chargée d'un barbeau rouge posé dans l'axe transversal.
The fish comes from the municipal arms, D'argent à un barbeau de gueules, posé en pal, which were the arms of the powerful Counts of Marchin.

The Counts of Marchin lived in the castle of Modave, located today in the neighbouring municipality of the same name (which uses a different flag).
The castle of Modave as we can visit it today was revamped by Count Jean-Gaspard-Ferdinand de Marchin (1601-1673) from 1652 to 1673. Following Louis XIV's brilliant example, Marchin, like all the other nobles of that time, transformed his castle into a living museum dedicated to his own glory. Therefore, the red barbel on a white background can be seen in nearly all rooms. The most striking room of the castle is the Entrance Hall, aka (improperly) as the Guards' Hall. To impress his visitors, Marchin asked a skillfull artist to paint his genealogic tree on the cealing of the room, showing his 32 "quarters of nobility" (the 32 quarters prove that all the four-generation ancestors of the Count were nobles). The Marchin barbel is shown on the leftmost branches of the tree. The barbel is said to have been chosed by the Marchin as a carnivorous and belliquous fish.
The website of the castle of Modave proposes a nice virtual visit, with a clickable image of the genealogic ceiling.

In his French-English heraldry glossary, Brian Timms translates barbeau (as well as bar) as "barbel", although these are two different species. A bar is "a stylised heraldic fish derived from the barbel, Barbus vulgaris, a large European fresh water fish, related to the carp. It takes its name from the fleshy filaments hanging from its mouth (French, barbe, beard), and is also related to the sea perch (Dutch, baers, perch, c. 1180), which is sometimes known as loup de mer or loup marin, sea wolf, although it often appears depicted as a brochet, pike or saumon, salmon".
La Faune de France (MNHN) gives the barbeau fluviatile, river barbel, as Barbus barbus and the barbeau méridional, southern barbel, as Barbus meridionalis, smaller than the river barbel and found only in southern France.The barbels belong to Family Cyprinidae, together with the bleak (Alburnus alburnus), the bream (Abramis brama), the carp (Cyprinus carpio), the gudgeon (Gobio gobio), the chub (Leuciscus cephalus), the minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus), the roach (Rutilus rutilus), the tench (Tinca tinca), and several other small river fishes of little gastronomic value. In contrast, the true bar is the highly prized bass, Dicentrarchus labrax and Dicentrarchus punctatus, a sea fish from the Family Serranidae. The "heraldic" bar is the canting emblem of the Counts of Bar, in Lorraine (whereas their neighbours from Salm use the salmon).

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 30 May 2008