IN 751 AD, PÉPIN LE BREF (PEPIN OR PIPPIN THE SHORT) FOUNDED THE CAROLINGIAN DYNASTY KNOWN AS THE PIPPINIDS THAT WOULD BECOME AN EMPIRE UNDER CHARLEMAGNE.
This was a period of expansion, both economic (in which agriculture predominated) and demographic. Villages and towns sprang up, one hiving off from the other or on land cleared for the purpose. Over time, the aristocracy managed to take advantage of the weakening of central power to consolidate its own. This led ultimately to the feudal system, with its multitude of seigniorial properties. During the Middle Ages, the area that is now the Geopark was divided up between vassals of the Principality of Liège on the one hand (Seigneury of Rochefort, Provostship of Revogne…) and the County of Luxembourg (Ban de Marche, Terre de Durbuy…) on the other. The tensions created by this geopolitical division resulted in numerous disasters and prompted the building of a number of castles (Beauraing, Lavaux-Sainte-Anne, Hargimont, Rochefort and more), and the fortifying of towns (Marche, Durbuy, Revogne, Lomprez…) and villages. As for the magnificent Romanesque churches (Tohogne, Waha and Hamerenne, to name but three) that have come down to us, they were the architectural embodiment of the entrenchment of Christianity, which divided the land into deaneries and parishes. The Cistercian abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy, founded near Rochefort in 1230, adds the finishing touch to this spiritual system.
FIG 1 Jemeppe Castle, Hargimont, 13th - 18th centuries AD (G. Focant © AWaP).
FIG 2 The so-called Lomprez gate, protecting one of the three entrances to Revogne, once a town but later demoted to a hamlet. In the background, on higher ground, the outer bailey of the medieval castle, 13th - 14th century AD (C. Frébutte © AWaP).
FIG 3 Saint-Martin church in Tohogne, 11th century AD (C. Frébutte © AWaP).
FIG 4 Preventive excavations in 2014 at the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy in Rochefort ; amongst other finds, these excavations revealed the foundations of the original church built on the site (C. Frébutte © AWaP).