This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Huy (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)


Last modified: 2004-06-19 by
Keywords: huy | hoei |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | | mirrors

[Flag of Huy]by Ivan Sache

See also:

Presentation of Huy

The municipality of Huy (14,100 inhabitants) is located between Namur and Liège. It is made of four parts: Ben-Ahin, Huy, Neuville-sous-Huy and Tihange. The city of Huy was built around a rocky spur dominating the confluency of the rivers Hoyoux and Meuse. A huge fortress built on the spur watched the valley of Meuse but was destroyed in 1715. A citadel was built on the same site in 1823, but was never used for offensive purpose.

Huy (Latin, Hoium) was mentioned for the first time in a testament dated 636. A village was probably built earlier near a Roman castrum (fortified camp) set up on the right bank of the Meuse. It is also said that saint Materne dedicated a shrine to the Blessed Virgin there in the IInd century.

In the VIIth century, the area was evangelized by saint Domitian, bishop of Tongeren and first patron saint of the city. Accordingly, two churches dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and saint Cosmo were built. A shrine dedicated to saint Materne is mentioned in a document dated 634. In the Merovingian times, Huy was a small but very active river port. Coins with the writing choe castro were minted in the city, showing that a castle already existed in Huy. The castle was explicitely mentioned for the first time in 890 in a bill of sale. Grapevine was grown on the slopes of the spur. Bronze foundry workers, bone and horn cutters and potters had workshops in the borough of Batta.

In 941, German emperor Otto I created the short-lived county of Huy, encompassing most of the regions of Condroz and Hesbaye. The last count, Ansfried, ceded it to the bishop of Liège in 985. Huy was then included as a "good city" in the principality-bishopric of Liege.
In the XIth century, Huy was an important industrial center. Blacksmiths formed the most powerful guild. Water wheels built on the Houyoux allowed the development of several ironworks and smelting furnaces. Copper beating was exported all over Europe thanks to two famous artists from Huy, Rénier de Huy (baptismal founts in St. Bartholomeuw's church of Liège) and Godefroid de Claire (reliquaries of St. Mengold and St. Domitian in the collegiate church of Huy).

In 1066, bishop Theoduin of Bayern needed funds to rebuild the cathedral Notre-Dame. The citizens of Huy ceded him half of their loose goods against a chart of rights, which was the first ever granted to a city in western Europe. Remains of the crypt of Theoduin's church, housing the relics of saints Domitian and Mengold, were discovered in 1906.

In the XIIIth and XIVth centuries, the fortune of Huy was due to cloth trade. Coins from Huy found in Russia and in Scandinavia are evidence of the international fame of the city. The building of a Gothic cathedral started in March 1311, requiring the demolition of Theoduin's Romanic church. The choir was consecrated in 1377, whereas the vaults are dated 1523 (transept crossing) and 1536 (great arch below the tower).

The prince-bishops of Liège increased the castle, known as Tchestia, and improved its defense system with towers and walls. In 1328, prince-bishop Adolphe de la Marck, challenged by the citizens of Liège, entrenched himself in the castle of Huy. So did John of Bayern in 1408. In the XVth century, Huy was one of the richest and most pleasant cities in the duchy of Burgundy. In 1472, duke Charles le Téméraire completely revamped the castle. At the same time, prince-bishop Erard de la Marck dug the 90 m deep well. The castle was then chosen as the symbolic emblem of the city.

However, this castle, built in a strategic location and protecting Liège on the west, caused the decline of Huy in the XVIth and XVIIth centuries. It was for instance seized by the Dutch governor Heraugiere in 1595, who was then expelled by Count de la Motte. Another attempt of Dutch invasion failed in 1602. In the next 30 years, the castle was besieged and seized 12 times by Louis XIV or his opponents' coalition. Most of the vineyard disappeared. In 1715, the treaty of la Barrière prescribed the destruction of all fortresses, including Huy, in order to secure the end the War of Spanish Succession. The inhabitants of Huy were so happy to get rid of the cause of their misfortune that they destroyed themselves the castle stone by stone. For one century, the rocky hill on which the castle had been built remained bare and abandoned.

After the fall of the French Empire and the incorporation of Huy to the Netherlands, the strategical interest of Huy was reevaluated. On 6 April 1818, the building of a new fort started, patroned by prince Frederic. The plans of the fort were drafted by engineer Cammerlingh and the building site was directed by captain Ammamaet. The Dutch state allocated 1,200,000 guilders to the building of the fort, whose main role was to protect the country from an attack coming from the south. The fort was achieved in 1823; it was a big rectangular fortress made of limestone, including several loopholes and 17 m high curtains. The side of the fortress over the river Meuse was 148 m wide and the two other sides over the city and the Condroz plateau were 108 m wide. The fort was equiped with 50 cannons served by 100 men. However, those cannons were never used but for festivities.

In 1848, the citadell was transformed into a state jail. The Risquons-tout workers, who had proclaimed the republic against the monarchy, were jailed there for seven years. In 1876, the municipality of Huy purchased the fort for 30,000 francs, but general Brialmont reincorporated it to the national heritage as a part of the defense system of the Meuse. The industrial revolution made of Huy the "Billionaires' City". Among the ancient industrial traditions of Huy, pewterware production is still significant.

During the First World War, the fortress of Huy was used by the Germans as a disciplinary camp for their own troops and Russian prisonners. During the Second World War, it was used as a jail for more than 6,000 French and Belgian political opponents.

The municipality purchased the fort in 1973 for one symbolic franc. On 28 June 1992, the Museum of Resistance and Concentration Camps was inaugurated, following a convention with the municipality of Huy.

Former municipality of Ben-Ahin

The source cascading from Mont-Picard to the Meuse, known as the Fontaine d'Ahin, has been the natural border between the county of Namur and the principality of Liège for ages. In 1505, it was known as the spamicon. It is shown on all military maps used by Louis XIV when he besieged Huy. It was also the limit between the municipalities of Huy and Ahin. The fountain was used as a watering and washing place until 1938, the year water conveyance was set up in Huy.

The castle of Beaufort was located on the territory of the former municipality of Ben-Ahin, part of Huy since 1976. The family of Beaufort is very ancient: its early members are reported to have fought the Normans in a chronicle dated 881. Lord Wauthier of Beaufort is mentioned in 1044. A chart dated 1127 says that Lambert and Arnoud of Beaufort built an oratory on their domain of Benz (later shortened to Ben). The castle of Beaufort seems to have been built in the XIIth century by the prince-bishops of Liège as an advanced defense of their city against the counts of Namur. Arnold de Beaufort is called in a chart, dated 1227 and probably the oldest mention of the castle, the chief of the "Men" of the prince-bishop.
In 1271, a Beaufort betrayed Liège and placed the castle under the homage of the count of Namur. Accordingly, the castle was a permanent threat for the city of Huy, located only 5 km from the castle and still in the domain of Liège. In 1276, the inhabitants of Huy besieged Beaufort in the so-called Cow's War, to no avail. Jean II, count of Namur, purchased the domain of Beaufort in 1330 and ceded it to his brother Robert.
In the XVth century, the count of Namur sold his county to duke of Burgundy Philippe le Bon. In the same time, the inhabitants of Dinant, a city located on the Meuse and belonging to Liège, fortified their castle. Philippe complained to the prince-bishop of Liège, who appointed commissioners in order to watch the two castles. However, the inhabitants of Dinant and Huy allied, seized Beaufort in June 1430 and completely demolished the castle. Archeological excavations done by the University of Liège in the 1970s did not yield anything more recent than the XVth century, definitively showing that the ruins of the castle had been immediatly abandoned.

Around 1850, duke of Beaufort-Spontin purchased one hactare of land bristled with rocks, ruins and thickets, in order to preserve the birthplace of his ancestors. The family still owns the domain, which was put on the historical register by royal decree on 3 July 1984. The municipality of Huy signed a convention with duke Friedrich of Beaufort, allowing a public access to the ruins in summertime.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 11 April 2004

Description of the flag of Huy

The municipal flag of Huy is horizontally divided yellow-red with a blue border except along the hoist. The flag is not recognized by the Heraldic Council of the French Community in Belgium.

Yellow and red are the traditional colours of Liege, which are also used on the municipal arms of Huy,

Source: Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones. Tome I, Dexia, 2002 [2004]

Pascal Vagnat, 11 April 2004

Coat of arms of Huy

The coat of arms of Huy is (simplified blazon):

Gules, a fort or open azure on a terrace vert

The blue border on the flag recalls the colour of the fort gate.

Source: Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones. Tome I, Dexia, 2002 [2004]

Pascal Vagnat, 11 April 2004

The International Civiv Heraldry website shows a different coat of arms and says:

"The modern municipal coat of arms of Huy shows the lion of Namur with a letter H placed in canton to differentiate Huy. It was granted in 1818, after the municipal council had applied for new arms in 1813. The reasons for the application and the choice of the new coat of arms havebeen lost.
Beforehand, Huy used a variation of the coat of arms of Liège. The oldest known municipal seal of Huy (XIIth century) shows the perron of Liège flanked by two fleur-de-lys. In the middle of the XIIIth century, two dogs replaced the fleur-de-lys. Seals from the XVth century show a castle with three towers and a banner on each tower. The castle was used on the seals until the late XVIIIth century.

Ivan Sache, 11 April 2004