Ardennes

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Ardennes
Frahan JPG01.jpg
Landscape of Frahan inside the bend of the Semois River
Location Ardennes.PNG
Location Wallonia, Belgium;
Oesling, Luxembourg;
Ardennes department and Grand Est region, France;
Eifel, Germany
Coordinates 50°15′N5°40′E / 50.250°N 5.667°E / 50.250; 5.667 Coordinates: 50°15′N5°40′E / 50.250°N 5.667°E / 50.250; 5.667
Area11,200 km2 (4,300 sq mi)
Governing bodyParc National de Champagne/Ardennes
Parc National de Furfooz
The hilly and forested regions of the Ardennes Ardennes333.JPG
The hilly and forested regions of the Ardennes
The center of the transboundary highlands of the Ardennes and the Eifel Ardennen mit Eifel.jpg
The center of the transboundary highlands of the Ardennes and the Eifel
The Ardennes in Belgium Regions naturelles de Belgique.jpg
The Ardennes in Belgium

The Ardennes ( /ɑːrˈdɛn/ ; French : L'Ardenne; Dutch : Ardennen; Walloon : L'Årdene; Luxembourgish : Ardennen; also known as the Ardennes Forest or Forest of Ardennes) is a region of extensive forests, rough terrain, rolling hills and ridges formed by the geological features of the Ardennes mountain range and the Moselle and Meuse River basins. Geologically, the range is a western extension of the Eifel, and both were raised during the Givetian age [1] of the Devonian (382.7 to 387.7 million years ago) as were several other named ranges of the same greater range.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third-most-widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

Walloon language language

Walloon is a Romance language that is spoken in much of Wallonia in Belgium, in some villages of Northern France and in the northeast part of Wisconsin, US until the mid 20th century and in some parts of Canada. It belongs to the langue d'oïl language family, whose most prominent member is the French language. The historical background of its formation was the territorial extension since 980 of the Principality of Liège to the south and west.

Contents

Located primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching as well into Germany and France (lending its name to the Ardennes department and the former Champagne-Ardenne region), and geologically into the Eifel—the eastern extension of the Ardennes Forest into Bitburg-Prüm, Germany, most of the Ardennes proper consists of southeastern Wallonia, the southern and more rural part of the Kingdom of Belgium (away from the coastal plain but encompassing over half of the country's total area). The eastern part of the Ardennes forms the northernmost third of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, also called "Oesling" (Luxembourgish : Éislek), and on the southeast the Eifel region continues into the German state of the Rhineland-Palatinate.

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a sovereign state in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

Luxembourg Grand duchy in western Europe

Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a small landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is one of the four official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the EU. Its culture, people, and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of French and German cultures, as evident by the nation's three official languages: French, German, and the national language, Luxembourgish. The repeated invasions by Germany, especially in World War II, resulted in the country's strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

The trees and rivers of the Ardennes provided the charcoal industry assets that enabled the great industrial period of Wallonia in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was arguably the second great industrial region of the world, after England. The greater region maintained an industrial eminence into the 20th century, after coal replaced charcoal in metallurgy.

Tree Perennial woody plant with elongated trunk

In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondary growth, plants that are usable as lumber or plants above a specified height. In wider definitions, the taller palms, tree ferns, bananas, and bamboos are also trees. Trees are not a taxonomic group but include a variety of plant species that have independently evolved a trunk and branches as a way to tower above other plants to compete for sunlight. Trees tend to be long-lived, some reaching several thousand years old. Trees have been in existence for 370 million years. It is estimated that there are just over 3 trillion mature trees in the world.

River Natural flowing watercourse

A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of water. Small rivers can be referred to using names such as stream, creek, brook, rivulet, and rill. There are no official definitions for the generic term river as applied to geographic features, although in some countries or communities a stream is defined by its size. Many names for small rivers are specific to geographic location; examples are "run" in some parts of the United States, "burn" in Scotland and northeast England, and "beck" in northern England. Sometimes a river is defined as being larger than a creek, but not always: the language is vague.

Charcoal Lightweight black residue, made of carbon and ashes, after pyrolysis of animal or vegetal substances

Charcoal is a lightweight black carbon residue produced by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and plant materials. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis — the heating of wood or other organic materials in the absence of oxygen. This process is called charcoal burning. The finished charcoal consists largely of carbon.

Allied generals in World War II felt the region was impenetrable to massed vehicular traffic and especially armor, so the area was effectively "all but undefended"[ citation needed ] during the war, leading to the German Army's twice using the region as an invasion route into Northern France and Southern Belgium, via Luxembourg in the Battle of France and the later Battle of the Bulge.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Battle of France Successful German invasion of France in 1940

The Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries during the Second World War. France had previously invaded Germany in 1939. In the six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, bringing land operations on the Western Front to an end until the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944. Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940 and invaded France over the Alps.

Geography

Much of the Ardennes is covered in dense forests, with the hills averaging around 350–400 m (1,150–1,310 ft) in height but rising to over 694 m (2,277 ft) in the boggy moors of the Hautes Fagnes (Hohes Venn) region of south-eastern Belgium. The region is typified by steep-sided valleys carved by swift-flowing rivers, the most prominent of which is the Meuse. Its most populous cities are Verviers in Belgium and Charleville-Mézières in France, both exceeding 50,000 inhabitants. The Ardennes is otherwise relatively sparsely populated, with few of the cities exceeding 10,000 inhabitants. (Exceptions include Eupen and Bastogne.)

Verviers Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Verviers is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège.

Charleville-Mézières Prefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Charleville-Mézières is a commune in northern France, capital of the Ardennes department in the Grand Est region. Charleville-Mézières is located on the banks of the Meuse River.

Eupen Municipality in German-speaking Community, Belgium

Eupen (German and French, previously known as Néau in French, is a city and municipality in the Belgian province of Liège, 15 kilometres from the German border, from the Dutch border and from the "High Fens" nature reserve. The town is also the capital of the Euroregion Meuse-Rhine.

The Eifel range in Germany adjoins the Ardennes and is part of the same geological formation, although they are conventionally regarded as being two distinct areas.

Eifel Low mountain range in Germany

The Eifel is a low mountain range in western Germany and eastern Belgium. It occupies parts of southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia, northwestern Rhineland-Palatinate and the southern area of the German-speaking Community of Belgium.

Highest summits

N.B. the Belgian Province of Luxembourg in the above list is not to be confused with the country known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Geology

The Ardennes is an old mountain range formed during the Hercynian orogeny; in France similar formations are the Armorican Massif, the Massif Central, and the Vosges. The low interior of such old mountains often contains coal, plus iron, zinc and other metals in the sub-soil. This geologic fact explains the greatest part of the geography of Wallonia and its history. In the North and West of the Ardennes lie the valleys of the Sambre and Meuse rivers, forming an arc (Sillon industriel) going across the most industrial provinces of Wallonia, for example Hainaut, along the river Haine (the etymology of Hainaut); the Borinage, the Centre and Charleroi along the river Sambre; Liège along the river Meuse.

The region was uplifted by a mantle plume during the last few hundred thousand years, as measured from the present elevation of old river terraces. [2]

This geological region is important in the history of Wallonia because this old mountain is at the origin of the economy, the history, and the geography of Wallonia. "Wallonia presents a wide range of rocks of various ages. Some geological stages internationally recognized were defined from rock sites located in Wallonia: e.g. Frasnian (Frasnes-lez-Couvin), Famennian (Famenne), Tournaisian (Tournai), Visean (Visé), Dinantian (Dinant) and Namurian (Namur)". [3] Except for the Tournaisian, all these rocks are within the Ardennes geological area.

Economy

The Ardennes includes the greatest part of the Belgian province of Luxembourg (number 4; not to confound with the neighbouring Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), the south of the province of Namur (number 5) and the province of Liège (number 3) plus a very small part of the province of Hainaut (number 2), as well as the northernmost third of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, called Oesling (Luxembourgish: Éislek) and the main part of the French department called Ardennes.

Before the 19th century industrialization, the first furnaces in the four Walloon provinces and in the French Ardennes used charcoal for fuel, made from harvesting the Ardennes forest. This industry was also in the extreme south of the present-day Belgian province of Luxembourg (which until 1839 was part of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), in the region called Gaume. The most important part of the Walloon steel industry, using coal, was built around the coal mines, mainly in the region around the cities of Liège, Charleroi, La Louvière, the Borinage, and further in the Walloon Brabant (in Tubize). Wallonia became the second industrial power area of the world (after Great Britain) in proportion to its territory and to its population (see further).

The rugged terrain of the Ardennes limits the scope for agriculture; arable and dairy farming in cleared areas form the mainstay of the agricultural economy. The region is rich in timber and minerals, and Liège and Namur are both major industrial centres. The extensive forests have an abundant population of wild game. The scenic beauty of the region and its wide variety of outdoor activities, including hunting, cycling, walking and canoeing, make it a popular tourist destination.

Etymology

The region takes its name from the vast ancient forest known as Arduenna Silva in the Roman Period. Arduenna probably derives from a Gaulish cognate of the Brythonic word ardu- as in the Welsh : ardd ("high") and the Latin arduus ("high", "steep"). [4] The second element is less certain, but may be related to the Celtic element *windo- as in the Welsh wyn/wen ("fair", "blessed"), which tentatively suggests an original meaning of "The forest of blessed/fair heights".

The Ardennes likely shares this derivation with the numerous Arden place names in Britain, including the Forest of Arden.

History

Rock Bayard of Dinant, on the right bank of the Meuse River. According to a legend, a magic horse jumped from the top of this rock to the left bank of the river, carrying the Quatre Fils Aymon fleeing Charlemagne. RocherBayardDinant.JPG
Rock Bayard of Dinant, on the right bank of the Meuse River. According to a legend, a magic horse jumped from the top of this rock to the left bank of the river, carrying the Quatre Fils Aymon fleeing Charlemagne.

The modern Ardennes region covers a greatly diminished area from the forest recorded in Roman times.

Another song about Charlemagne, the Old French 12th-century chanson de geste Quatre Fils Aymon , mentions many of Wallonia's rivers, villages and other places. In Dinant the rock named Bayard takes its name for Bayard, the magic bay horse which, according to legend, jumped from the top of the rock to the other bank of the Meuse.

On their pillaging raids in the years 881 and 882, the Vikings used the old Roman roads in the Ardennes and attacked the abbeys of Malmedy and Stablo and destroyed Prüm Abbey in the Eifel. [5]

The strategic position of the Ardennes has made it a battleground for European powers for centuries. Much of the Ardennes formed part of the Duchy (since 1815 the Grand Duchy) of Luxembourg, a member state of the Holy Roman Empire, which changed hands numerous times between the powerful dynasties of Europe. In 1793 revolutionary France annexed the whole area, together with all other territories west of the Rhine river. In 1815 the Congress of Vienna, which dealt with the political aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, restored the previous geographical situation, with most of the Ardennes becoming part of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. After the revolution of 1830 which resulted in the establishment of the Kingdom of Belgium, the political future of the Ardennes became a matter of much dispute between Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, as well as involving the contemporary great powers of France, Prussia and Great Britain. As a result, in 1839 the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg ceded the westernmost 63% of its territory (being also the main part of the Ardennes) to the new Kingdom of Belgium, which renamed the area Province of Luxembourg. [6]

In the 20th century the Ardennes was widely thought by leading military strategists to be unsuitable for large-scale military operations, due to its difficult terrain and narrow lines of communications. However, in both World War I and World War II, Germany successfully gambled on making a rapid passage through the Ardennes to attack a relatively lightly defended part of France. The Ardennes became the site of three major battles during the world wars—the Battle of the Ardennes (August 1914) in World War I, and the Battle of France (1940) and the Battle of the Bulge (1944–1945) in World War II. Many of the towns of the region suffered severe damage during the two world wars.

1914
Bataille des Frontieres.svg
The Battles of the Frontiers (1914) involved a series of collisions between the French and the German armies. The French forces carried out a counteroffensive ("Plan XVII"), attacking the flank of the westwards-advancing German army executing its Schlieffen Plan.
qrb hArdnym 1914.jpg
The Battle of the Ardennes (1914) was the second of the Battles of the Frontiers, After the advancing German left wing defeated French forces in Lorraine, France launched another attack just north of Lorraine, advancing temporarily into the Ardennes.

World War II

The military strategists of Nazi Germany in 1939 and 1940 selected the forest as the primary route of their mechanized forces in the Invasion of France. The forest's great size could conceal the armoured divisions, and because the French did not suspect that the Germans would make such a risky move, they did not consider a breakthrough there, or considered that it would take at least 15 days for an army to pass through the forest. German forces, primarily under the command of Erich von Manstein, carried out the plan in two days, and managed to slip numerous divisions past the Maginot Line to attack France and rout the French forces. In May 1940 the German army crossed the Meuse, despite the resistance of the French army. Under the command of General Heinz Guderian, [7] the German armoured divisions crossed the river at Dinant and at Sedan, France. This was a crucial step in the push towards Paris, and France fell on June 25, 1940.

The Ardennes area came to prominence again during the Battle of the Bulge. The German Army launched a surprise attack in December 1944 in an attempt to capture Antwerp and to drive a wedge between the British and American forces in northern France. Allied forces blocked the German advance on the river Meuse at Dinant. Local residents say that a German vehicle exploded just before the Bayard rock, possibly after triggering a mine laid by US soldiers.[ citation needed ] Dinant's Rock was perhaps[ original research? ] the most advanced position of the German army during this battle.

1940
10May-16May1940-Fall Gelb.svg
Battle of France (1940) The Germans execute Erich Von Manstein's plan for Fall Gelb. Armoured divisions cross the Meuse (16 May), (principally in Dinant) and Sedan and the Ardennes. The Ardennes is just at the east of the red shading which marks the extent of the German advance. On 16 May General Maurice Gamelin said he could no longer protect Paris because he had lost the Ardennes.
16May-21May1940-Fall Gelb.svg
Battle of France (1940) The Wehrmacht advances further, particularly accelerating through the Gembloux gap northwest of the Ardennes, in the week of 21 May (red shading), quickly reaching Abbeville, near the English Channel. This cut off the Allied troops of the North (some French divisions, the Belgian Army and the British Expeditionary Force). With this, the German armies won the first stage of the Battle of France.
1944
Battle of the Bulge progress.svg
Battle of the Bulge. In 1944, the Germans counterattacked across the Ardennes and the Meuse valley but they were eventually thwarted after fierce battles. Their most advanced position was the "nose" of the salient, just in front of Dinant and the Meuse river. They had wanted to move northeast and reach Antwerp and the North Sea.
Wacht am Rhein map (Opaque).svg
The salient was mainly in the Ardennes, its "nose" being just to the west of it, in the Condroz. Areas above 400 metres (1,300 ft) (shown in the darkest shade of brown) form the heart of the Ardennes.

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Luxembourg (Belgium) Province of Belgium

Luxembourg, also called Belgian Luxembourg, is the southernmost province of Wallonia and of Belgium. It borders on the country of Luxembourg to the east, France to the south and southwest, and the Belgian provinces of Namur to the northwest and Liège to the northeast. Its capital is Arlon, in the south-east of the province.

Wallonia Region of Belgium

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Liège Province Province of Belgium

Liège is the easternmost province of Wallonia and Belgium.

Provinces of Belgium subdivision of Belgium

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Dinant Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Dinant is a Walloon city and municipality located on the River Meuse, in the Belgian province of Namur. It lies 90 kilometres (56 mi) south-east of Brussels, 30 kilometres (19 mi) south-east of Charleroi and 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Namur. Dinant is situated 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of the border with France.

Namur Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Namur is a city and municipality in Wallonia, Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and of Wallonia, hosting the Parliament of Wallonia, Walloon Government and administration.

Gaume cultural region in Belgium and France

Gaume is a region in the extreme southeast of Belgium. At a lower altitude than the Ardennes, it borders the French region of Lorraine to the south, the Land of Arlon to the east the Belgian part of the Ardennes to the north.

Ourthe river in Belgium

The Ourthe is a 165-kilometre (103 mi) long river in the Ardennes in Wallonia (Belgium). It is a right tributary to the river Meuse. The Ourthe is formed at the confluence of the Ourthe Occidentale and the Ourthe Orientale, west of Houffalize.

Talleyrand partition plan for Belgium

The Talleyrand partition plan for Belgium was a proposal developed in 1830 at the London Conference of 1830 by the French ambassador to Britain Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, to partition Belgium. The proposal was part of the intensive negotiations among five great powers over the future of Belgium after the success of the Belgian revolution for independence.

The Oesling or Ösling is a region covering the northern part of both the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm, within the greater Ardennes area that also covers parts of Belgium and France. The Oesling covers 32% of the territory of Luxembourg; to the south of the Oesling lies the Gutland, which covers the remaining 68% of the Grand Duchy as well as the southern part of the Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm.

The history of Wallonia, from prehistoric times to the present day, is that of a territory which, since 1970, has approximately coincided with the territory of Wallonia, a federated component of Belgium, which also includes the smaller German-speaking Community of Belgium. Wallonia is the name colloquially given to the Walloon Region. The French word Wallonie comes from the term Wallon, itself coming from Walh. Walh is a very old Germanic word used to refer to a speaker of Celtic or Latin.

Condroz geographical object

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Citadel of Dinant

The Citadel of Dinant is a fortress located in the Walloon city of Dinant in the province of Namur, Belgium. The current fort was built in 1815 on a site which was originally fortified in 1051 when the region was ruled by the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The citadel overlooks the city of Dinant and the strategic Meuse river which runs through the town. It is open to the public.

Baraque de Fraiture mountain in Belgium

The Baraque de Fraiture is the highest point in the Province of Luxembourg, Belgium. Situated in the Municipality of Vielsalm, it is 652 metres (2,139 ft) high. It has a ski area comprising 3 pistes, which open for less than 20 days a year. However, it has been open for up to 60 days per year recently.

Ardennes and Eifel

Ardennes and Eifel are mountain ranges in Europe that form part of the same volcanic field and also of the Rhenish Massif. These are mountains and hills composed of slate and limestone, and of an average altitude of 400 to 500 meters, with several summits reaching the 700 meters.

Pointe de Givet

The pointe de Givet is the extreme north of the department of Ardennes in the Grand Est region in northeastern France. This small territory is 25 km in length and 10 km wide and forms a small strip extending deep into Belgian Ardennes along the Meuse. Larger cities in the pointe de Givet include Revin, Fumay, and Givet.

References

Notes

  1. The defining stratotype for the geological period is an outcropping in Givet in the Ardennes.
  2. Garcia-Castellanos, D., S.A.P.L. Cloetingh & R.T. van Balen, 2000. Modeling the middle Pleistocene uplift in the Ardennes-Rhenish Massif: Thermo-mechanical weakening under the Eifel? Global Planet. Change 27, 39-52, doi:10.1016/S0921-8181(01)00058-3
  3. "Most beautiful rocks of Wallonia"
  4. Vasmer, Max (1986–1987) [1950–1958]. "рост". In Trubachyov, O. N.; Larin, B. O. (eds.). Этимологический словарь русского языка[Russisches etymologisches Wörterbuch] (in Russian) (2nd ed.). Moscow: Progress.
  5. Regino von Prüm, Chronik, ad a. 882.
  6. Gilbert Trausch, Le Luxembourg à l'époque contemporaine, p 15 to 25, publ. Bourg-Bourger, Luxembourg 1981
  7. Frieser, Karl (2005). The Blitzkrieg Legend. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. pp. 100–197.

Sources