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Nov 13, '21

Calais to Brussel and onward to Liege!


One word, however, of Calais in passing. I could not help being struck with the order l that was observed in our crowded boat, and on the more crowded pier, as we came to, and prepared to disgorge our various passengers and other property, so unlike what occurs on a similar occasion in England. Two soldiers were instantly posted, to prevent all access to or from the vessel of any but those who had real business , and even the commissaires from the hotels did not press forward until they were called, when, bringing their own porters, they took up your baggage and at once proceeded to the Custom house. Again, it is an advantage to strangers to have all petty charges paid by these commissaires, who, though they or their masters may fleece such birds of passage to a certain extent, prevent others from doing so in the manner so shamefully common when a foreigner lands in England.

The contrast between English and French posting has been a thousand times remarked ; but it is so ludicrously strong, that no one to whom it is not familiar can fail to be struck with it. The fantastically-dressed postilions, with their laced jackets and huge jack-boots ; their long whip, with its eternal crick-crack-crock ; the poor jades of horses, harnessed with ropes, often even to the very bridle reins, such as you would scarcely look for as the trappings of a wild Highland garron, and going scarce six miles an hour,— replace most woefully the neat set-out,the capital horses, and the dashing speedoftheEnglishroad. But, n'importe! on we go through the flat and uninteresting environs of Calais, with their ditches and pollard willows ; but night comes on soon in the month of December, and darkness speedily covered the land.

I was not permitted to travel long in uninterrupted comfort. My carriage, though guaranteed by M. Quillac, was frail and somewhat stricken in years. Before morning it gave evidence of this in the breaking of the fastenings of both swingle-trees, which it cost me more than half-an-hour to repair at Cassel; and, on approaching Halle, a beggar, who was very importunate, and whom I was disposed rather rudely to dismiss as he ran alongside the carriage, earned charity and reward at once by giving notice that one of the fastenings of a hind-spring had given way. This also cost some time to repair, and, to my sorrow, prevented me from reaching Brussels before dark : so I passed through this gorgeous city of interesting recollections, a snow-storm adding to the gloom of the night, and, only stopping for a few minutes to take up some further despatches at the English ambassador's, entered upon a long and dreary paved road, cut up by the effect of weather, every stone of which made my ricketty vehicle groan and creak in a very alarming style.

Cassel, Nord

Cassel (French pronunciation:  [kasɛl]; Dutch: Kassel) is a commune in the Nord départment in northern France.,_Nord

Halle, Belgium

Halle is a city and municipality of Belgium, in the district (arrondissement) Halle-Vilvoorde of the province Flemish Brabant. It is located on the Brussels-Charleroi Canal and on the Flemish side of the language border that separates Flanders and Wallonia. Halle lies on the border between the Flemish plains to the North (thick loam) and the undulating Brabant lands to the South (thinner loam). The city also borders on the Pajottenland to the west. The official language of Halle is Dutch.,_Belgium


It was not without reason that I mistrusted the strength of my carriage; for, some miles before entering St.Tronde, I had beensensibleofastrange alteration in the nature of its movement, and, on changing horses at that town, we discovered that one fore and one hind spring were broken.



listen); French: Saint-Trond [sɛ̃ tʁɔ̃]; Limburgish: Sintruin) is a city and municipality located in the province of Limburg, Flemish Region, Belgium, near the towns of Hasselt and Tongeren.

The hour alone would have prevented speedy repair; but, upon inquiry, I was told that St. Tronde could boast of no smith skilled in repairing springs, so there was no remedy but to push on for Liege, two stages further, where a good coachmaker might be found, attheriskofstickingentirelybytheway,-a prospect which, in a night of storm and snow, was in nowise inviting.

We, therefore, tied up the fractured parts as well as we could with ropes : and you may conceive my anxiety and uneasiness as the infirm machine bumped over the rough pavement for seven mortal hours, for so long was it ere the concern was deposited- in safety, thank God- within the court of the Aigle Noir at Liege.



Cast iron sign from the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire in Liège, 18th century

An extraordinary hotel!

Two brands for a hotel

In Liège, a hostelry known as “de l'Aigle” was erected in Féronstrée, on the site of the private mansion of the Montjoie family, destroyed during the sack of Charles the Bold in 1468. In the 17th century, the name of the establishment is evolving into a “Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire” and its reputation has only grown over time. According to the account of a traveler at the end of the 18th century, “the cuisine was of European reputation, we drank delicious Burgundy! This is where the most important figures of the Ancien Régime and the beginning of the 19th century, such as the anonymous travelers, stay and celebrate, whether they travel on foot, on horseback or in a harnessed car. It is true that the hotel is located in one of the main arteries of the City, in the district occupied by ironworkers and other iron merchants. The city of Liège, for its part, is ideally located at the crossroads between France, Holland and Germany and bordered by a waterway, the Meuse.

The establishment's sign is hung on the wrought iron balcony, surmounting the porte-cochere, of the imposing 18th century facade, with seven bays. It is a heavy piece in blackened cast iron, cast in bas-relief, silhouetted, representing the two-headed eagle with outstretched wings. In heraldry, the term "eagle" is always feminine. A symbolic figure since the Roman Empire, it becomes two-headed when it is taken over as an emblem by the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nation.

A second sign carved in stone, with identical iconography, is inserted into the wall of the side facade of rue des Airs.

The Eagle has reached its nest

The Museum of Walloon Life, which preserves more than 300 signs including about thirty in stone, has the privilege of holding these two vestiges of a glorious past! And yet ... The cast iron eagle still present on the facade in 1924 according to Théodore Gobert, mysteriously disappears. It was not until 1965 that the brand reappeared in an unexpected way in the park of the Château de Rozon in Rendeux, owned by Baron de Vivario whose family had acquired the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire around 1840. According to his last wishes, it was handed over to the museum in order to ensure its sustainability in the very district that has housed it for a long time.

The rich collection of photographs of the Museum of Walloon Life contains unpublished documents which allow us, here, to understand and above all to visualize the scale of the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire. A safeguard mission led by our teams reveals the interior decorations of the establishment before their destruction in 1926 while in 1968, the exact location of the stone sign was fixed on the film before major renovation work. It was probably during this period that the lapidary sign was entrusted to the museum. On the basis of these photographic documents, we also understand the scope of the main facade of the hotel which occupied the site of the current houses of numbers 17, 19, 21, 23 in Féronstrée.

Crossing the centuries

In 1651, the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire belonged to the young ladies of Trappé; it then passed into the hands of the Radoux family in 1654, of Pier Boncher in 1689, of M. Mitié in 1736. The owner who had it in 1740, George Alexandre Lampson, was buried in 1761 in the crypt of the church of Saint- Antoine according to the surveys carried out by Professor Jacques Stiennon in the 1960s. In 1791, the establishment was bought by Mr. Falloise who quickly sold it to Mr. Monseur. The Museum of Walloon Life keeps a leather wallet stamped with a small iron with the inscription "L. Monseur, son, trader at the Hôtel de l'Aigle noir (sic) in Liège". In 1823, Mme Guérin and Carlot Bronne bought the property. The latter already owned the Hôtel de Hollande located rue Sainte-Gangulphe. When he died in 1851, the building was divided into several trading houses. The real estate complex was sold in 1852 to Nicolas-Simon Vivario-Plondeur; he remained in the family until 1925, when it was transferred to Jean-Charles Séquaris. According to the “advertisements” printed in the illustrated satirical newspaper of Liège Tatène Veuve Tchantchet in 1912, the Sequaris family already occupied two commercial locations on the former site of the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire; one is devoted to bedding and the other to baby carriages.

Carlo Bronne: a history writer

A direct descendant of the last owner of the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire, Carlo Bronne (1901-1987) published in 1954 a book devoted to the history of this prestigious hotel establishment. Magistrate in the city, Carlo Bronne also exercises his talents as a poet, historian, chronicler and storyteller. He becomes a corresponding member of the Institut de France, member of the Academy of French Language and Literature in Belgium and will be ennobled in 1976. In twenty-two chapters, like so many small picturesque and living paintings, Carlo Bronne brings back to life under his feather alerts the shadows of the celebrities of the past who have stayed at the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire. He tells us the anecdotes, reveals the plots to us, whispers the secrets of the alcove to us; it bears witness to discreet diplomatic meetings and evokes the tragedies which have marked the establishment's four centuries of activity.


In 1577, Marguerite de Valois, the famous Queen Margot, went to Spa to take the waters. Her long and perilous journey, which also serves as a diplomatic mission, takes her between Namur and Liège. It was there that his young maid of honor, Hélène de Tournon, driven to Namur by the Marquis de Varanbon, died of love there in a house opposite the Black Eagle after eight days of agony. During the funeral procession organized in a sumptuous way in the streets of the City, the remorseful lover discovers the tragedy. The deceased is deposited in the Church of the Minors, today Saint-Antoine. Shakespeare would have been inspired by this drama in Act V of Hamlet (1598) during Ophelia's funeral.

It is in the courtyard of the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire, that a fiery chapel will be erected to accommodate the coffin of the queen mother Marie de Medici, who died in exile, seven months previously, on July 3, 1642, in Cologne; Richelieu opposing the return of his remains to Paris. After a funeral ceremony at Saint-Lambert Cathedral, the body reaches Saint-Denis by going up the Meuse from Huy on a boat.

On May 2, 1815, during a dinner organized at the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire, the Prussian Marshal Blücher (1742-1819) was attacked by rebellious Saxon soldiers. Fearing for his life, he fled on horseback through the maze of alleys of Liège, dismounted around the place Saint-Barthélemy and found refuge with the youngest of the old demoiselles Demany, rue des Pourceaux (now rue des Brasseurs). Without this providential intervention, Blücher and his men might not have been able to tumble in the middle of the battle of Waterloo and take the French army by its right flank!

To what thin thread of fate is history ...

Find a large part of our collection of signs on our online catalog:

Nadine de Rassenfosse, Collaborator in the Objects-Reserves department (works of art section)


- Théodore Gobert, Liège through the ages. The streets of Liège, Brussels, 1976, vol. 3, p. 33-38.

- "The sign of the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire at the Museum of Walloon Life", in Chronicle of Friends of the Museum of Walloon Life, December 1965.

- Carlo Bronne, Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire, editions du Mont des Arts, Brussels, 1954.


1. Cast iron sign from the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire in Liège, 18th century.

2. Sign in natural stone from the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire in Liège, 18th century.

3. 4. 5. 6. Former Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire en Féronstrée in Liège, interior views taken by L. Max before its demolition in 1926.

7. Carved stone sign of the former Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire en Féronstrée in Liège. Side facade of rue des Airs, 1968.

8. Maison Sequaris, former Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire en Féronstrée in Liège, 1968.

9. 10. Leather wallet with gussets lined with marbled paper, bearing the gilded inscription "L. Monseur, son, trader at the Hôtel de l'Aigle noir in Liège", 19th century.

11. Porcelain map of the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire, held by Carlot Bronne and located rue Féronstrée, Liège, 1823-1851.

12. Advertisements for the Sequaris stores located on the site of the former Hôtel de l'Aigle noire en Féronstrée in Liège, in Tatène veuve Tchantchet, illustrated satirical newspaper from Liège, July 26 to August 1, 1912.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire in Liège

The main facade of the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire occupied those of the current houses at numbers 17, 19, 21, 23 of rue Féronstrée

The two-headed sign of the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire

First, an article by Robert Ruwet from a forthcoming book titled: "The Liege Mysteries and Other Local Quirks - Politically Incorrect -"

The Black Eagle

You will undoubtedly have noticed that, in recent decades, a lot of hotels have been built in Liège and often even hotels with a respectable number of stars. It is not always easy to remember their names because, with bankruptcies and bankruptcies, they often change.

This Liège hotel tradition is not new: under the Ancien Régime, many well-known hotels welcomed passing guests. The city of Liège, close to France, Luxembourg, Holland and Germany, has always been a place of passage. They were found in the center of the city, close to the town hall as well as to the quays of the Meuse.

One of the most famous was the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire which was located in Féronstrée.

Notice that in this case the word "eagle" is feminine. It is about the heraldic figure which was famous since the Roman Empire of which it was the symbol. This eagle was taken over by the Germanic Empire (by becoming two-headed) and then by Napoleon. The Hôtel de Liège had, on one of its facades, the two-headed eagle carved in stone. Another eagle, in ironwork, hung from the balcony of the first floor of the main entrance, in Féronstrée.

It was therefore located in Féronstrée and there is nothing left ... It went from rue de la Rose to rue des Airs. Previously, this last little rue des Airs began on rue des Mineurs but, unlike its current layout, it did not turn left towards Hors-Château but quite right towards Féronstrée. The Eagle sign was on the façade, on the rue des Airs side.

Carlo Bronne was a Belgian magistrate, historian and writer, born in Liège on May 29, 1901 and died in Villance, in the province of Luxembourg, on July 25, 1987. We owe him a very well-documented work in which he recounts the life of the Black Eagle. The last owner of the hotel being his great-great-grandfather (great-great-grandfather), he had access to all sources. The hotel ceased its activities in 1840.

Over the centuries, many famous people have stayed at the Black Eagle, such as Marie de Medici. Queen of France and Navarre from 1600 to 1610 by her marriage to the future Henri IV, widowed in 1610, she ensured the regency in the name of her son, Louis XIII, until 1614.

She spent four nights with us in April 1643… in her coffin! She had indeed died in Cologne some time before, but Richelieu opposed the return of her remains to Paris.

A very solemn religious service was organized in Saint-Lambert Cathedral on Sunday April 15. All the bodies of the city were present in their formal attire. The Erard, the large 16,000-pound drone, which sounded only for the advent and death of the prince-bishops, was maneuvered by 24 men. On April 17, all the steeples of the city sounded the death knell and masses were said in all the churches and convents. On the 18th, the beer was hoisted onto the boat from Huy and sailed up the Meuse towards France.

Robert Ruwet


Here are some excerpts from Carlo Bronne's book: "Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire".

- The Black Eagle's records are lost. Fortunately, the gazettes, always eager to comment on the travels of the greats of this world, make it possible to reconstruct the hotel's guestbook. Princes and artists, adventurers and captives, they fill the page of the 18th century with their illustrious names.

- (Regarding the funeral of Marie de Médicis on February 16, 1643) A fiery chapel had therefore been erected in "the most famous inn in Liège which was the Black Eagle" and it was in the courtyard of the inn that the procession always escorted by the 32 good trades and the four companies of the city.

- The fearless Black Eagle Hotel had survived the vicissitudes of history without ceasing to be one of the most imposing buildings in the city. In 1651, it belonged to a young lady Trappé; in 1689, the master was Pier Boncher. Around the inn, new shops had appeared: at the Treille d´Or, at the Virgin Mary, at the Olifant, at the Plat d´Etain, at the Trois Flambeaux, at the Three Nightingales.

- It was in this city bathed in music that, on the evening of October 2, 1763, a man and two children arrived from Germany. The boy, small, thin and pale, might have been seven years old; he had the prettiest face in the world, both mischievous and dreamy. Her sister was a little older (…) The children, on the way since seven in the morning, were dragging their feet. They soon reached La Féronstrée. The lit courtyard of the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire enlivened the trio with the hope of a good hot meal. When they were properly restored, they returned to their rooms. Before getting on, the traveler asked that they be woken up at dawn and named himself: Leopold Mozart, kapellmeister of the Prince of Salzburg, his son Wolfgang-Amadeus and his daughter Nannerl.

- In 1795, the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire, inns of kings and princes, had lost its clientele. Léonard Monseur "first-class innkeeper merchant" had only two servants and a "writer", probably the accountant. Democratizing his establishment, he opened a table d'hôte "well served at the cost of 40 sols de France per head". Its boarders were above all officers, civil servants and those adventurers whom the revolutions bring out of God knows where, like cockroaches from an upturned parquet floor.

- In the 1840s, Carlot Bronne had tried to defend himself; he had secured his house with an omnibus taking "the boarders to the railroad and the steamboat back to the hotel," but his sons were unwilling to resume the business.

The Baedeker of 1839, a renowned travel guide at the time, no longer cited the Black Eagle until after the English Pavilion. The 1843 edition demoted it to fifth place; that of 1859 did not mention him any more, because he had disappeared with its owner, who died in Féronstrée on June 26, 1851. The old inn closed its doors at the age of three hundred and seventy years. As early as 1851, the building had been divided into several trading houses numbered from 17 to 23. (...)

The famous sign, which surmounted the entrance, has itself disappeared; it was the two-headed eagle, sovereign emblem of the Holy Empire since the 15th century. The preserved sign, smaller than the one on the porch, undoubtedly adorned the dining room.


Here is an article, again from Robert Ruwet, about the Black Eagle:

From Waterloo to rue Pourceaurue

La Pourceaurue is obviously the street for swine, pigs and pigs. This artery, which in 1863 became our rue des Brasseurs (from rue de la Poule to place Saint-Barthélemy), proudly carried this porcine name for more than seven centuries. At issue: the sign hanging on one of the houses.

In 1815, two old young ladies lived in one of the Pourceaurue buildings: the Demany sisters, the eldest of whom was helpless and deaf.

In June of the same year, not far from there, Marshal Blücher feasted at the Hôtel de l'Aigle Noire, located in Féronstrée. This Prussian marshal was at the head of an army of 15,000 Saxons en route to the meeting (which was to be decisive!) With the remnants of the Napoleonic Grand Army.

As usual, Blücher, nicknamed the drunken corporal, was drunk (like a pig…) and behaved like the worst trooper. However, a revolt broke out and the Saxons revolted against their Prussian officers. A gang besieged the Hotel de l'Aigle Noire and these reiters were determined to put on the skin of their marshal.

It is not clear how things turned out. It is not clear who was the most drunk of the Saxons or the Prussian. We only know that the latter found salvation only in flight.

After wandering through the dark little streets of the neighborhood, the proud Prussian landed with the Demany sisters. And this brave warrior, who had spent his life scouring every possible and imaginable battlefield in Europe, took refuge behind the high chair of the eldest of the Demany sisters. Which earned him salvation ...

Admittedly, the two old ladies obviously did not know whose life they had saved. Nonetheless, it is thanks to them that, a few days later, at Waterloo, when Napoleon hoped to see Grouchy's army arrive, it was indeed Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher who swooped down on him and would definitely put a an end to Bonapartian megalomania.

Because of two old ladies, the eldest of whom was helpless and deaf.

Air Pillow

And here let me pause to pay ajust tribute to one of the greatest comforts in the way of inventions that has been of late bestowed upon travellers,— I mean the air-pillow of India-rubber-cloth made by Messrs. Mackintosh and Co. and others. I had purchased one for quite another purpose ; but finding, after a few hours,that the stuffing of the back of the

carriage had been worn so bare as to leave almost exposed a cross-bar, to the serious annoyance of my shoulders, I took out my pillow, and, slightly inflating it, interposed it between myself and the offending part of it.

The effect was perfect, the relief instant; - the pillow accommodated itself at will to any position I pleased, and formed the most delightful support that art could have contrived. I have no doubt that, but for it, I should have been almost knocked up in the long-run : with it, I continued


Nov 13, '21
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