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The municipality of Merbes-le-Château (4,141 inhabitants on 1 July 2007; 3,024 ha) is located close to the border with France, 15 km north-east of Maubeuge. The municipality of Merbes-le-Château is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Merbes-le-Château, Fontaine-Valmont, Labuissière and Merbes-Sainte-Marie.
Merbes-le-Château never had a significant castle. The Latin name of the village, Merbier as Castrum, refers to a small fort protecting the village and watching the river Sambre. In 1471, the village was known as Merbes-Poterie; on 25 May 1724, it was destroyed by a blaze.
Fontaine-Valmont was mentioned for the first time in 964, as Fontanas. It is the seat of one of the most important Gallo-Roman sites in Wallonia, with foundations of temples, funerary monuments and sacred baths, remains of aquaducts and of an indsutrial iron workshop. Coins, medals and tiles were also found, all kept in the Royal Museum of Mariemont.
Fontaine-Valmont was transferred by Carloman to the abbey of Lobbes in 743, and later to the abbey of Liessies (1159). The domain of Fontaine-Valmont belonged to the Principality of Liège.
Labuissière emerged around a Gallo-Roman villa located in the today's hamlet of Ghoy. The oldest known lord of Labuissière (XVth century) was a famous erudite. The village was famous in the past for the so-called St. Ann marble, a white-spotted black marble. It was used to decorate the theater of Rio de Janeiro and several palaces in Antwerp. The Merbes-Sprimont quarry, located on the right bank of the Sambre, is still active.
Merbes-Sainte-Marie, once belonging to the abbey of Lobbes, is listed in 1159, as Sancta Maria de Merbis, in a Bull by Pope Alexander III.
Source: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 2 September 2007
Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones describes the flag of Merbes-le-Château as:
Blanc chargé d'un château ouvert de quatre tourelles rouge, posé sur une laize longitudinale verte de largeur égale à 1/8e du guindant et disposée à même distance du bord inférieur du tablier (White with a a red four-towered castle placed on a greenhorizontal stripe of height 1/8th of the flag height and placed at the same distance from the bottom edge of the flag). Or, horizontally divided white-green-white (6:1:1) with a castle etc... standing upon the green stripe.
The municipality wanted to keep its traditional colours, white and red, while the four towers recall the four former municipalities.
The municipal website shows a black-and-white image of the coat of arms with the four-towered castle, while Servais shows it in colour, standing on a green terrace, which might be the origin of the green stripe on the flag.
PascalVagnat & Ivan Sache, 2 September 2007Red dog casino