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Betzdorf (Municipality, Luxembourg)

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Betzdorf]

Flag of Betzdorf - Image by Ivan Sache, 14 January 2008

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Presentation of Betzdorf

The municipality of Betzdorf (2,697 inhabitants on 1 January 2003) is located in the periphery of the town of Luxembourg. It groups the five villages of Betzdorf (198 inh.), Berg (93 inhabitants), Mensdorf (888 inh.), Olingen (438 inh.) and Roodt/Syre (1,080 inh.). Betzdorf, Mensdorf, Olingen and Roodt are located on the river Syre (in German and Letzebuergisch, Syr), whereas Berg (in German, "mount") dominates the valley.

Betzdorf was mentioned for the first time in 1321, as Bettinsdorf, which means "Betto's village" (in German, Dorf) or was derived from a place called Beit. However, the oldest settlement in the municipality was most probably Berg. In 1140, Pope Innocent II granted the mother parish of Betzdorf, including Berg, Eschweiler, Hagelsdorf, Oldingen and Wecker, to the Benedictine abbey of Trier, which struggled for years with the Archbishop of Trier for the rights on the villages. Under the Ancient Regime, Betzdorf and Berg formed a single domain and a single parish. The today's municipality of Betzdorf was created during the Napoleonic rule.
Betzdorf has two castles, localy known as the old and the new castle. Successively owned by the Bertrange, Lellig, Berbourg, Eltz, Berg, Mohr de Waldt, Salignac and Lech families, the old castle was eventually bequeathed to the St. Elizabeth's Sisters, who transformed it in the St. Joseph institute for disabled persons. Built in 1912, the new castle was confiscated by the Germans during the Second World War and allocated to the State of Luxembourg according to the Agreement on the German goods, interests and rights, signed in Paris on 21 December 1945 and ratified by the Law of 20 June 1949. On 9 April 1953, Grand Duke Jean got betrothed to Princess Jos&ecute;phine-Charlotte of Belgium. The couple settled in the (new) castle of Betzdorf, where all their children were born. On 18 November 1964, the Grand Ducal family left Betzdorf for the castle of Colmar-Berg. From 1964 to 1982, the castle of Betzdorf was used as a medical house. In 1986, the castle became the seat of the SES (Société Européenne de Satellites) company, today called SES-Global, the biggest satellite operator in the world (Astra).

Mensdorf was originally located near the crossroads of the Metz-Trier and Reims-Arlon-Trier Roman ways. The hill called Widdenberg, rich in water sources, was probably a Celtic sanctuary. In 1912, a quarryman found a terracota statue, which was purchased by the National Museum of History and Art and identified as an ex-voto representing the Roman godess Minerva. Three years later, a votive stone dedicated to Lenus Mars Veraudunus was found by villagers from Mensdorf and also purchased by the museum. In the following years, several artifacts were found, such as statuettes and coins, but no systematic excavation aimed at finding remains of a temple was ever performed.
The name of Mensdorf might date back to the VIth century but its first written occurrence is Mennestorf, in 1043. Successive names are Mensdorff (1255), Mennestorff (1261), Mennisdorf (1305), Mensdorff (1585), Munsdorf (1579/1589), Mondorff (1680/1695), Mensdorf (1685) and Monsdorf (1705/1792).
Around 1250, Mensdorf was ran by the Counts of Roussy; they are the ancestors of the Counts of Mensdorf-Pouilly (XIIIth century). In the XIVth century, the lord of Mensdorf was magsitrate (échevin) in the town of Luxembourg; however, the domain of Mensdorf remained a small village. In 1611, the village had 20 houses and some 260 inhabitants. The Thirty Years' War (1611-1648) nearly suppressed the village, which had 150 inhabitants in 1635 and only 42 in 1656. In 1659, Mensdorf was incorporated to France along with Thionville, Montmédy and Ivoix. After the French Revolution, the Counts of Roussy emigrated to Austria and took the name of von Mensdorf in order to hide their French origins. Count Alexander of Mensdorf was Minister of the Foreign Affairs, whereas his son Albert, born in 1861, was Ambassador of Austria in London for years.
In 1819, the sandstone quarries of Mensdorf were opened on the Widdenberg; they had the monopole on the production of cobblestones in Luxembourg. Stone extraction ceased in 1962 in order to protect the water sources. The Panelux bakery, the most important in Luxembourg, was built in Mensdorf in the 1980s.

Oldingen was built at the confluency of the Syre and the brooks Fischbach, Aselbach and Lauschbach. A possible etymology of the village name involves the Celtic root alt, "a brook", which would have yielded Oldinga, "the village near the brooks". Other claim that Oldingen comes from the Anglo-Saxon root old and would therefore be "the old village". Oldingen was known as Oldingin (1193), Oildingen (1430), Olien (1570) and Ullinger (1738). The suffix -ingen seems to indicate a foundation of the village in the late Merovingian times (c. 600).
While most of the village of Oldingen belonged to the parish of Betzdorf, a few houses of the village belonged to the parish of Roodt. The villagers had to wait until 1874 to have their own parish, encompassing all the village.

Roodt/Syre, locally known as Rued, was mentioned for the first time in 1083, when Count of Luxembourg Conrad I transferred to the newly founded abbey of Altmünster the ecclesiam de Rode (church of Roodt). However, the village was founded much earlier, as proved by the funnel-shaped (30 m in diameter, 5 m in depth) pits probably used for food storage and locally called mardellen. The name of the village is derived from rode, "a clearing". A very small village with very few historical records, Roodt belonged to the Count of Luxembourg and was never a free domain. At the end of the XVIIth century, due to warn epidemics and hunger, there were only four houses inhabited in the village. The building of the Trier-Luxembourg road (1771-1777) boosted the development of Roodt, which had 127 inhabitants in 1787. When the municipality of Betzdorf was created, the town hall was built in Roodt, where it remained until its transfer to the castle of Berg in May 2001. Around 1830, several villagers emigrated to Brazil.

Source: Booklet on Betzdorf (72 p.), available on the municipal website

Ivan Sache, 14 January 2008

Municipal flag of Betzdorf

The flag of Betzdorf is white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.
The municipal arms of Betzdorf, granted on 22 February 1985, are "Quarterly, 1. and 4. Azure a cross moline argent, 2. and 3. Argent a lion azure armed and langued gules, overall a key gules".
The cross comes from the arms of the Lellig family, once lords of Betzdorf, but the colours of their arms has been lost.
The lion comes from the arms of the Barons of Pouilly, lords of Mensdorf in the XVth century.
The key comes from the municipal arms of Grevenmacher ("Luxembourg a key argent per bend sinister), recalling that most of Betzdorf was ran by the Provostship of Grevenmacher.

Source: Booklet on Betzdorf (72 p.), available on the municipal website

Dominique Cureau & Ivan Sache, 14 January 2008