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In the Franchimont region

The Franchimont region, between the Vesdre and the Amblève, used to belong to the prince-bishopric of Liège. Completely separated from the other Liège lands, it was an enclave between the duchy of Limbourg and the prince-abbacy of Stavelot Malmédy. It is also sometimes known as the "Marquisate of Franchimont", although it is more or less certain that it never had any other marquis than the princes of Liège. There used to be a Roman villa at Theux. It subsequently passed into the hands of the Frankish kings. A deed has been preserved which Louis the Debonair, Charlemagne's son, signed in 817 "in his royal palace of Theux, on the water of Polleur". In 898, King Zwentibold of Lotharingia gave the domain of Theux, that is to say the ancient villa with all the land it controlled which would later be called Franchimont, to the church of Liège, although he retained hunting rights in the forests. In 915, King Charles the Simple of France and, at the time, the ruler of Lotharingia, added the hunting rights to the previous gift. Until then, under the prince-bishops, the forests were beginning to be cleared; the few inhabitants were able to clear and cultivate the ground. Villages were founded: Sart, Spa, Jalhay and, in the 11th century, the localities whose names end in "ster" - Jehanster, Surister, Solwaster, Herbiester, Pepinster, etc. The Franchimont region included the four districts of Theux, Sart, Spa and Jalhay. The last three corresponded to the current municipalities of those names. In 1796, Polleur and La Reid municipalities were separated from Theux district, and in 1851, so was Pepinster. The district of Verviers and the Andrimont area were added to Franchimont, but from a military point of view only: their militia formed part of the Franchimont regiment. When did this take place? We know that in 1323, a lord by the name of Godefroid, offered his freehold estate of Andrimont to the prince of Liège and took it back as a fief. It is likely that Verviers was attached to the prince-bishopric around the same time. The feudal system was never established in Franchimont; it had neither serfs nor lords. In each district there was a court of justice made up of a mayor and seven aldermen; not only did it dispense justice, but it also managed the affairs of the district. Franchimont castle, near Theux, has nothing in common with the ancient Roman villa nor with the Frankish kings' hunting lodge. In the meadow known as the "wède à l'tour", ancient buildings could still be seen in 1600. The Franchimont fortress, built at the end of the 11th century at the same time as Limbourg castle, served mainly as a prison.

(Maurice MARECHAL, "Au Pays de Franchimont", historical note)