|• Mayor||Frédéric Daerden (PS)|
|• Governing party/ies||PS, E.P.H.|
|• Total||23.54 km2 (9.09 sq mi)|
|Population (1 January 2013)|
|• Density||1,600/km2 (4,300/sq mi)|
Herstal, formerly known as Heristal, or Héristal, is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region and Province of Liege along the Meuse river. Herstal is included in the "Greater Liège" agglomeration, which counts about 600,000 inhabitants.
Herstal municipality includes the former communes of Milmort, Vottem, and Liers (partly, the other part being incorporated into Juprelle). A large armaments factory, the Fabrique Nationale or FN, and the biggest industrial zone of Wallonia (Haut-Sart) provide employment locally.
Merovingian and Carolingian golden age
The proximity of the Meuse River and the abundance of local resources attracted settlers in this area since the fifth millennium BC. Around the end of the Roman era and at the beginning of the Merovingian period, the hamlet had become a fortified stronghold, then known as Héristal. The major road that linked Tongeren to Aachen crossed the Meuse here, where a ferry likely carried travelers to Jupille.
In the 7th century, Héristal gave its name to the founder of the family that established the Carolingian dynasty. Pippin, lord of Héristal, the powerful Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia and of Neustria under Merovingian king Theuderic III, probably chose this location as his main residence because of its proximity to the major cities of Tongeren, Maastricht, and Liège. Pippin was the father of Charles of Héristal, victor of the decisive Battle of Tours that stopped the Arab-Muslim advance into northwestern Europe, earning him the nickname Martellus (“hammer”). Charles, in turn, was the grandfather of Charlemagne, also supposedly born in Héristal, where he lived for at least fifteen years. Charlemagne later established his capital in Aachen, ending Héristal’s period of medieval glory as capital of the empire.
Late Middle Ages until now
The town was incorporated into the Duchy of Lower Lotharingia, which became part of the Duchy of Brabant at the end of the 12th century. Despite its proximity to Liège, the territory of Herstal did not become part of the Bishopric of Liège until 1740, date at which the prince-bishop Georges-Louis de Berghes bought it from Frederick II of Prussia. By that time, the town was mainly known for its able craftsmen: ceramists, blacksmiths, and clockmakers.
In the 19th century, Herstal became a city of coal and steel. It would, however, become world-famous thanks to the foundation of the Fabrique Nationale, a major armament factory, in 1889. Several motorcycle manufacturers also established themselves in town. On August 7, 1914, at the very beginning of World War I, the invading German army executed 27 civilians and destroyed 10 homes in Herstal.
After World War II, heavy industry saw a prolonged period of decline, drastically reducing the number of jobs in these areas. Today, Herstal’s economy is picking up again, with more than 200 companies established on its territory, including Techspace, which manufactures precision parts for the European Space Agency’s Ariane rocket.
|Mayor||Frédéric Daerden (PS)|
|Deputy||Franco Ianeri (PS)
Marc Haeken (PS)
Jean-Louis Lefebvre (PS)
Christian Laverdeur (PS)
Léon Campstein (PS)
André Namotte (E.P.H.)
Isabelle Thomsin (PS)
|Party||%||Diff. 2000||Seat||Diff 2000||Leader|
|EPH (PSC)||18,99||+2,59||6||+1||Norbert Weytjens|
|MR (PRL)||14,14||+3,24||4||+1||Jennifer Maus|
- A museum, housed in a 1664 building typical of the region, shows various artifacts of the Prehistoric and Gallo-Roman periods, a Frankish burial place, and several displays retracing the history of the Pippinid dynasty that originated here. The museum also has a collection of local industrial products, including samples from the FN.
- The Pippin Tower (“Tour Pépin”) incorporates a wall section thought to have belonged to the palace of Charlemagne.
- Pippin of Herstal, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, Neustria and Burgundy (635 or 640-714)
- Charles Martel, Mayor of the Palace and Duke of the Franks (686-741)
- Charlemagne, king of the Franks and founder of the Holy Roman Empire (742 or 747-814, birth in Herstal is uncertain)
- John Browning, American firearms designer (1855-1926)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Herstal.|
- Official web site (French)