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Amay (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-11-03 by ivan sache
Keywords: amay |
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[Flag of Amay]

Municipal flag of Amay - Image by Ivan Sache, 17 November 2001

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Presentation of Amay and its villages

The municipality of Amay (13,147 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,761 ha) is located on the river Meuse, 10 km upstream from Huy, on the border of the regions of Condroz and Hesbaye. The municipality of Huy is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Amay, Ampsin, Flône, Jehay and Ombret-Rawsa.

Amay was already settled in the Neolithic; in the Ist-IVth centuries, it was an important village (vicus) controlling the crossing of the Meuse on the Tongeren-Arlon Roman way. The name of Amay appeared in 636 under the Frankish King Dagobert I. Amay was an ecclesiastic domain, the parish (incorporating Amay, Ampsin, Fize-Fontaine, Jehay, Rogerée, Ombret and Rawsa) being ruled by the collegiate church's chapter of canons, established around 1091. The Sts. George and Ode collegiate church succeeded an earlier sanctuary. Its building, in the so-called Ottonian style, started in 1089; the nave and the two lateral towers are the only remains of the original church. The median tower was added in 1525 and the church was completely revamped in the XVIIIth century. In the choir of the church can be seen St. Chrodoara's sarcophagus, discovered there in 1977. It is a masterpiece of Merovingian art, made of limestone extracted in Saint-Dizier (Champagne, France). The upper part of the lid shows a female character wearing a long dress and holding a staff in her right hand; the flanks of the lid are decorated with interlacing and foliage. Merovingian sarcophagi with human representations are extremely rare. A writing on the side of the lid says that the noble Chrodoara funded sanctuaries with her own goods. When found, the sarcophagus was nearly empty, the relics of the saint having been transferred much earlier into a shrine. Sts. George and Ode shrine, dated 1240-1250, keeps the relics of St. Chrodoara / Ode and of other famous saints. The shrine is decorated with scenes from the saints' life. One of them show a pilgrim with three scallops, which is believed to be the oldest known representation of a Santiago pilgrim in this region of Belgium. St. Chrodoara / Ode (629/635-723/730) was the widow of Duke of Aquitaine Boggis. Near Ombret, she threw her staff beyond the Meuse and promised to build a sanctuary on the staff's landing point.
In 1288, Bishop of Liège John of Flanders swapped his rights with the canons for the domain of Jupille but kept the right of justice. In 1310, Bishop Thibaut of Bar granted to the chapter the appointment of the members of the justice court. The domain then included Amay, Ampsin, Bodegnée and Fize-Fontaine; it was managed by an avoué depending of the feudal court of Grand-Modave. The avoué lived in a fortress locally known as the Romanesque Tower, probably built in the XIIth century by Bishop Henri of Leez, together with many others, to protect the Principality of Liège. The 15-m high tower was originally built away from the village and the church, and watched the valley of Meuse. In the XIVth century, the avoué of Amay was the famous Rasse of Waroux-Warfusée, involved in the War of the Awans and the Waroux that nearly suppressed the local nobility. The Périlleux de Rochelée were avoués of Amay from 1473 to the French Revolution; their last heir sold the tower in 1913.
Amay was severely damaged during the XVII-XVIIIth centuries wars. Until the Dutch rule, the main resource of Amay was alum, whose extraction employed up to 160 workers. Coal was also extracted in the XIXth century, but unsuccessfully. At the end of the XIXth century, the main industries in Amay were limestone and sand quarries, brickyards and a tilery.

Flône is known for the abbey founded in 1080 by three brothers on a plot granted by the Bishop of Liège on the confluency of the brook of Flône with the Meuse. The convent, ran by Augustinian canons, became an abbey in 1139. The abbey owned a big domain and rights on the neighbouring woods and fishing in the Meuse, as well as several farms. The abbey was looted and burnt by the Prince of Orange in 1568 and suppressed after the French Revolution. It was resettled in 1921 as the mother house of the Ladies of Christian Education.

Jehay was mentioned for the first time in a chronicle dated 1085. In 1130, Henri of Jehain is listed among the free men, therefore the ancient nobles, of the country of Liège. His descendants were involved in several wars, including the War of the Awans and the Waroux. The castle of Jehay was built in the XIIIth century, of which only the cellars and parts of the donjon have been kept. It was destroyed during the war opposing Hornes and La Marck and completely rebuilt in the XVI-XVIIth centuries. In 1680, it was transfered to the van den Steen, who recently sold it to the Province of Liège.
Jehay is the birth village of the engineer Zénobe Gramme (1826-1901), who spent most of his life in France. Working as an cabinetmaker for the silversmith Christofle, Gramme set up the prototype of the industrial dynamo in 1869. The industrial Hippolyte Fontaine (1833-1910) founded in 1871 with Gramme the Société des Machines magnéto-électriques Gramme. The second protoype was shown in 1871 in the House of Metallurgy and Industry of Liège. The then so-called "Gramme's engine" allowed the electrolytic deposit of 600 g of silver per hour on brass flatware (galvanoplasty). The inventor and the industrial worked together for 30 years, improving Grammes' engine and showing it could not only generate direct current but also produce mechanic energy, then superseding the steam engine.

The womens' Cistercian abbey of Paix-Dieu was founded in 1244. Arnould of Corswarem founded in 1239-1241 in the village of Oleye a monastery for nuns from the abbey of Val-Benoît. A few years later, the nuns moved to Paix-Dieu, which was a more suitable site, with the confluency of several brooks powering a grain mill. In 1257, the abbey domain covered 453 ha, which is relatively small compared to earlier abbeys such as Villers-la-Ville (10,000 ha) and Orval (7,000 ha). The abbey was rebuilt in the XVIIth century in the Mosan Renaissance style. It was suppressed after the French Revolution and never resettled, but the farms and the mills were still used by their new owners.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 17 May 2007

Municipal flag of Amay

The municipal flag of Amay is horizontally divided yellow-blue-yellow-blue-yellow-blue-yellow (seven stripes) with a vertical red stripe placed along the hoist, covering one third of the flag width.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 28 June 1994 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 22 December 1994. It is a banner of the municipal arms rotated orthogonally (that is with the shield chief placed along the flag hoist). The municipal arms are based on the arms of the lords of Amay.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 17 May 2007

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