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I just love medieval castles - one more for old time's sake !

April 16, 2018

 

Fallais Castle, locally known as Château de Fallais, lies in the village of the same name, in the province of Liège in the Wallonia region in Belgium. Its history goes way back to the 11th century.
Fallais Castle is a moated, square, lowland castle with round corner towers. Its buildings are built entirely out of a limestone hardcore dating from the 14th, 16th and 17th century, laid out around a rectangular court.
Building on the castle started in the 13th century on what was first a simple keep dating from somewhere in the 11th century.

 

In 1468 it was the place were the Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold, the French King Louis XI and the prince-bishop of Liège, Louis de Bourbon, met before the city of Liège was ransacked by the dukes powerful army. I suppose it wasn’t a very nice meeting. The city of Dinant had made Charles and his mother angry by questioning her faithfulness to the old Duke so Charles decided to attack the city. After six days, they surrendered but a conflagration had erupted and leveled the city. Some of the merchants and others were executed. Charles then turned his attention to the rebellious city of Liege again. He was harsh in his treatment of the city burning it to the ground, sparing only the churches. It was to be the first instance of the wrath of Charles the Bold and its consequences on the citizenry of his dukedom.
Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, was a man born with huge potential. The child of illustrious parents, he was the heir to a vast, fertile and economically rich dukedom. Charles could have been a king but personal flaws and failings and an inborn rage were to be his downfall. Charles was known in his time as “le téméraire”. In English this has been interpreted as “the Bold”.  Although dangerous, short-sighted and reckless would be a more accurate translation.

These characteristics ring a bell with certain present-time rulers? Any apparent similarity to president Trump is of course unintended by the author and is either a coincidence or the product of your own troubled imagination.

Completely trivial but funny fact: in 1678, during the siege of the city of Huy, the French King Louis XIV had his quarters in Fallais Castle. When he left he ordered the eastern Bourgogne tower and the western Grignard tower of the castle to be cannonaded just because he could. Imagine what  this guy’s AirBNB rating must be like?

In 1882 the castle was restored by the architect Van Assche. He succeeded in preserving the defensive appearance of the castle but sacrificed the medieval character of its origins, such as the original drawbridge. In 1937 the castle was damaged by a fire. The bridge, gate building and the Grignard tower are classified monuments since 1988.


The castle is private property so it can't be visited. Which is too bad.


Close to the castle you can see, along the banks of a fork of the Mehaigne river, the working Fallais water-mill.  
The mill is privately owned but if you are lucky enough you will see the owner on site and he will be more than happy to guide you around, show the mill and tell all about its history. It is currently the property of Mr. Pierre Heine (to visit, ring at 019 69 90 67 or email pheine@skynet.be if you want to fix an appointment)
In the Middle Ages, Fallais had two flour mills mentioned in 1350 in a text by Thomas de Beaufort, Lord of Fallais.
In the 16th century, there was only one left. The mill of Fallais was a common mill, which means that it belonged to the lord and that the inhabitants were forced to grind their cereals at this mill. The lord levied a 6,5 kg tax for every 100 kg ground in his mill and was allowed to fine those who took their clientele elsewhere.

The oldest parts of today's buildings date back to the 17th century. They are characterized by the use of shale, limestone and brick. The slide which is quite far upstream is dated 1761.

Integrated into an agricultural complex, the mill, which has four levels, did not cease its activities until 1966. Like many other mills, it is now producing electricity since the beginning of the 20th century.

The whole valley of the Mehaigne is quite beautiful and is most certainly worth a visit. There are several nice hiking routes and you can use the Ravel (autonomous network of slow ways - for a map visit here)  for a great biking experience in the natural park Burdinale - Mehaigne.

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