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Ans (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-06-21 by ivan sache
Keywords: ans |
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[Flag of Ans]

Municipal flag of Ans - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 24 March 2005

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Presentation of Ans and its villages

The municipality of Ans (27,416 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,335 ha) is located a few kilometers north-west of Liège, in the rural region of Hesbaye. The municipality of Ans is made since 1977 of the former municipalities of Ans, Alleur, Loncin and Xhendremael.

Ans is watered by the river Legia, which flows into the Meuse. In the past, Ans was mostly known for the watermills set up on the Legia. The source of the Legia, located in the upper part of the city, inspired several local poets such as Alphonse Tilkin, Georges Rem and Émile Gérard.
However, the most important activity in Ans was coal-mining. The oldest colliery in Ans dates back to the XIIIth century. At the end of the XIXth century, there were still four active collieries in Ans. The local hero of Ans is Hubert Goffin, whose statue was erected on the Nicolai square. On Friday 28 February 1812, the Beaujonc colliery was flooded. Thirty-five workers could escape from the water through the cage but another 22 drowned. Foreman Goffin attempted with a group of survivors to dig a trench to leave the mine. The survivors lacked oxygen, food and hope, but Goffin and his son Matthieu were able to motivate them until the junction was made with the rescue teams, on Wednesday 4 August at noon. Hubert Goffin was the first worker to be awarded the Cross of Légion d'Honneur. Emperor Napoléon (Belgium was then under French rule) forbad to Mathieu Goffin to go back working into the colliery. Instead, Mathieu was sent to the Lycée in Liège, where his studies were paid by the State.

In 1888, General Henri-Alexis de Brialmont built the fort of Loncin. The fort was part of a system of twelve forts expected to defend Liège in case of a German invasion. It was located on the old chaussée de Bruxelles and its specific aim was to defend both the road Liège-Saint-Truiden and the railway Liège-Brussels. When the First World War broke out, the fort was served by 550 gunners and infantrymen, directed by Commandant Naessens. On 4 August 1914, the soldiers swore to never surrender. A 42-cm shell hit the fort on 15 August 1914. The roof of the powder magazine crashed down and the fort was nearly completely reduced to rubble. 350 men were killed, but they had kept their oath.

The Waroux castle is located in Alleur and recalls the War of the the Awans and the Waroux for the domination of Hesbaye, which lasted from 1298 to 1335. The castle as it can be seen tomorrow is one of the rare examples of Belgian castles built on a circular plan.

Georges Simenon (1903-1989), the famous writer born in Liège, had family roots in Alleur and Xhendremael. In his autobiographic book Pedigree, Simenon portrayed his ancestors under invented names. The colliery worker Guillaume Moors (1823-1909), Simenon's great grandfather, is portrayed in the book as the vieux papa (old dad) from Xhendremael. Chrétien Simenon (1841-1927), the writer's grandfather, is portrayed as Chrétien Mamelin, a famous hatter who traveled all over Europe. Marie-Catherine Moors (1850-1905), Guillaume's daughter and Chrétien's wife, is portrayed as Marie Demoulin, a brave large family mother. Marie-Jeanne Louis Simenon (1874-1965), one of Chrétien and Marie-Catherine's ten children, is portrayed as aunt Ursuline. Marie-Jeanne took the veil in 1900 in Ans and became an Ursuline nun. Georges Simenon loved her and sent her flowers every year. In the book, he recalls how he "kissed her in spite of the starched edges of her cornet" when he visited her with his parents. Désiré Simenon (1877-1921), the writer's father, is portrayed as Désiré Demoulin, a clever and thoughtful clark in an insurance company, who prematurely died at work.
Some specialists of Simenon's work have claimed that Commissaire Maigret, at least in the first books of the series, was deeply inspired by the vieux papa from Xhendremael.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 19 June 2004

Municipal flag of Ans

The municipal flag of Ans is horizontally divided red-yellow (60:40). The limit of the fields is made of a crenelated wall with three merlons.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, this flag was proposed by the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community as:
Coupé crénelé de trois pièces rouge sur jaune.

The colours of the flag are taken from the municipal coat of arms. The crenelation recalls the fort of Loncin. The three merlons recall the three former municipalities incorporated in the new municipality of Ans in 1976.
The coat of arms of Ans is De gueules au lion d'or (Gules a lion or). These arms belonged in the Middle Ages to the Waroux family, from Alleur. Breton Waroux, Knight and Lord of Alleur had six sons. The youngest of them, Libert, aka Breton le Jeune (the Young), succeded him as Lord of Waroux. The family owned the domain until the XVIth century. The domain was then transfered by marriage to the Mérode and Clercx families. The coat of arms with the lion can be seen on a échevinal (municipal) seal applied on a chart dated 14 March 1330. Ans had also in the XVIIIth century a parish seal, showing the bust of St. Martin, the patron saint of Ans, portrayed as a Bishop.

Source: Municipal website

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 17 May 2007

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