Moneuse Route: the attack on the Belle-Vue collector - Dour

Touring cyclist ,  Walking/pedestrian at Mons

6.6 km
Walking/pedestrian
2h
Medium
6.6 km
Touring cyclist
1h
Medium
  • This route takes you in the footsteps of Antoine-Joseph Moneuse, the famous bandit and Captain of the Chauffeurs du Nord.

    The municipality of Dour features centrally in any reference to Moneuse’s tumultuous life. Here we will focus on the attack on Joseph-François Delhaye, the coal collector at Belle-Vue coal mine in Élouges.

    During this walk, you’ll have the opportunity to browse Cocars wood and explore its chapel, known to have been the bandit’s point of reference. You’ll also have to leave the territory of Hauts-Pays natural park to visit Dour and the village of Élouges through paths, narrow roads and a RAVeL.

    Have a good walk and watch out... Bandits are about.

    Route created and put together by Hauts-Pays natural park

    Illustrations Claude Renard
  • Difference in height
    61.5 m
  • Documentation
    GPX / KML files allow you to export the trail of your hike to your GPS (or other navigation tool)
Points of interest
1 Saint-Martin church, Elouges-centre
Reconstruction of the church on the site of the old one built in 1432 by the abbey of Crespin and demolished in 1856.

The first stone was laid on 10 June 1856 and the new church was blessed on 12 October 1857.

Notre-Dame de Lourdes grotto is on the left of the building.

Sources: http://doyenne-dour.be
2 The bailiff Fulgence Stiénon
It all began one day in October 1796. The tower of the church of Elouges struck eight o’clock. The bailiff Fulgence Stiénon left his friend Louis Ransart and set off again. He was passing through Dour as part of a business trip to Landrecies, Valenciennes and Quiévrain. This was his last stop before joining his office located in Mons.
3 Nightfall
Night fell over Elouges. It was balmy night for the time of year, and not a cloud covered the horizon. However, the bailiff felt apprehensive. Indeed, he knew he would soon have to cross Cocars wood. He’d of course has heard of the gangs operating in the region.
4 The Chauffeurs du Nord
It was in troubled times that events unfolded. The borders were diluted according to the victories and defeats of the French and Austrian soldiers. After the French Revolution (1789), Belgium went to Austria (1793) before going to France (1794). This was a period of famine during which the people were restless and justice was meted out in a summary manner.

It is in this context that gangs of bandits prevailed in the region. One of them caused a particular stir: the Chauffeurs du Nord (Northern Heaters). It is said they had the habit of burning the feet of their victims to make them confess where they hid their possessions. Rumour has it that a certain Antoine-Joseph Moneuse was their leader.
5 Moneuse
After all, Moneuse had already been accused of the Houlette massacre a year earlier at Roisin based on a rumour. Yet he’d been acquitted for this horrible crime that had left nine dead. But the case remained in everyone’s memory.
6 View point
Here you’re on the bridge of the old railway on which RAVeL line 98 passes today. The height gives you an unobstructed view of the village. Looking to your right, you’ll see the church of Saint-Martin d'Élouges-Monceau (desecrated in 2014). It is not so common for a village to have two churches.
7 La roulotte théâtrale
Founded in Leuven, Roulotte Théâtrale moved to Brussels where it created socially inspired shows.

In 1986, Roulotte Théâtrale moved to Elouges in the house with a barn that later turned into a theatre called “La Grange” (The Barn).

The company’s purpose is to promote the heritage of its region by propagating shows, story-telling evenings and various events.

As Moneuse is an integral part of this heritage, the Roulotte also dedicated a play to him in 1997.

Contact: 065/65 55 92
8 Moneuse: the play
Roland Thibeau, the founder of Roulotte Théâtrale and author of the play dedicated to the bandit, explains what motivated this choice and his vision of the character in the audio extract provided.
9 Cocars wood
Half an hour after his departure from Elouges square, bailiff Stiénon arrived at the edge of Cocars wood. He still had to cross it at this point. Riding his horse, he rushed down the path.
10 Chapelle Notre-Dame, Cocars
The site of Cocars is probably the most famous site in Elouges.

There is practically nothing left of the school, which had a great reputation. The school had 150 to 200 students who came not only from the surroundings but also from Tournai, Lens and Mons. It taught catechesis, reading, arithmetic, the first elements of the Latin language, history, geography, writing and even a hybrid script specific to the school. The hermitage had its own grammar entitled “French grammar for the use of the hermitage of Cocars”.

In 1851 the hermitage school was demolished but it is difficult to say whether its teaching activity stopped at the same time. Cocars’ chapel is the only testament to the hermitage.

Cocars chapel:

It was joined to the parish of Dour in 1837 following a request from the De Royer family (mayor of Dour) to introduce family burials there. It stands out for being on the territory of Elouges while being served by the Saint Victor de Dour alter. The current renaissance style building is rectangular in shape with a semicircle forming the choir. It is built out of brick on stone foundations from an old building. Under the chapel, a crypt shelters the remains of the De Royer family. Vandals have profaned it several times hoping to find gold and jewels. Since then, the crypt has been closed with an iron door. Formerly a mass was celebrated there on the first Monday of Lent and it was moved to 25 March marking the opening of the Ducasse “à figues” (figs) festivities.

This fête even attracted inhabitants from the surrounding villages, and beer flowed in abundance. In recent years, the Ducasse has seen a new event emerge but it now runs on 15 August. A children’s blessing as well as popular games are trying to reinject this local festival with its bygone atmosphere.

sources: http://www.communedour.be
11 An unfortunate encounter
After arriving at Cocars hermitage, the bailiff decided to take this path to take a shortcut towards Dour. Suddenly, a voice rang out: “Who goes there?” An individual then sprang from the coppice. The bailiff immediately fled at a gallop. A bullet brushed past him.
12 A mysterious stranger
The bailiff Stiénon had been galloping through the woods to save his skin for a few hundred metres. Apparently, no one had followed him. He decided to slow down as he reached the edge of the woods. He suddenly found himself face to face with a rider wearing a cap. Stiénon told him of his misadventures: “I think it's the army!” he said. The stranger then started laughing. The bailiff felt more and more uncomfortable. It was at this point that he noticed two pistols, a sword and a dagger secured to the rider's belt. Panic-stricken, he fled again.
13 Unanswered questions
Bailiff Stiénon would long remember that night. Who was that man? Was it the famous Moneuse everyone was talking about? And what if Cocars wood and hermitage served as a hiding place and a headquarters for the Chauffeurs du Nord? He was in an agitated state of mind. One thing was certain: something was brewing.
14 Safe and sound
The bailiff Stiénon finally reached his destination at Point du Jour inn in Dour. He never recounted what happened to him. People would have made fun of him, replying that he’d drunk too much with his friend Louis. However, he’d regret not raising the alarm on learning the fate reserved for the Delhaye family, the collector at the Belle-Vue coal mine, a few days later.
15 Former Dour station
A station and railway were inaugurated and opened in 1872 in Dour. This system had to enable the transportation of various goods such as coal and agricultural products occupying the region, but also cross-border commuters who had to reach their places of work. The station made it possible to go from Elouges to Mons and Roisin but also to France. Not far from the train station was a hotel where passengers could stay for a few days before resuming their journey.

Dour station was destroyed in 1980. After the railroad was abandoned, this station was completely forgotten to make room for the construction of a RAVeL. This would be line 98a in reference to the 98a railway line. This RAVeL goes as far as Mons on one side and reaches Quiévrain and Roisin on the other.
16 Dour at the heart of industry
Initially an agricultural land in the Middle Ages, many industries later emerged in Dour. Among them, the mining industry would be the most impressive.

Moneuse also witnessed the rise of coal mines, which proliferated from the mid-18th century in the region.

Coal miners would also pay a heavy price during the mining disasters of 1761, 1777, 1793, 1852, 1865, 1875, 1888 and 1891 in particular.

The landscape is still marked by this dark industrial past. The many slag heaps standing out on the horizon bear witness to this. On your right, you can also see Saint-Antoine slag heap.

Source: Wikipedia.
17 Belle-Vue site
Transformed into headquarters of the Hauts-Pays police zone in 2014, this place was created in the early 1830s. At the time it housed the main offices of Belle-Vue coal mine. However, coal mining already existed at this point in our history (1796). Mr Joseph-François Delhaye was the collector.
18 Joseph-François Delhaye
A native of Valenciennes, Joseph-François Delhaye was 40 years old. He held large responsibilities as collector and had to handle large funds on behalf of the mining company that employed him. A perfect target in these times of hardship.

In the photo attached is a copy of a merchandise entry slip dated August 1817 provided by the current owners of the Delhayes’ house, Dr Jacques Dutrieu and Maryse Hallez, 13 rue de Belle-Vue 7370 Dour.
19 Scouting
The Delhayes’ house is located further down this street. Joseph-François, the collector, lived there with his wife, Marie-Philipine Cheminais, their two children, the 85-year-old grandfather and a young maid. On 22 October 1796, a stranger knocked on the Delhayes’ door. It was the grandfather who opened it. In front of him stood a stranger carrying a huge stick. “I'm lost. Can you tell me the shortest way to Quiévrain?” asked the man.

The old man kindly told him the way, and the stranger thanked him before continuing on his way. However, at the end of the road, he went in the opposite direction, to the elderly Delhaye’s surprise.

In the climate of fear at the time, this strange behaviour was a source of alarm once the news spread. So when night came, everyone took care to barricade their doors. The night passed without a hitch, and the next day the stranger was forgotten. Yet for the Delhayes, the worst was yet to come ... See you in front of their house, in the next chapter, to find out more.
20 Break-in
Two days had passed since the stick-wielding stranger's peculiar visit. It was the night of 24 to 25 October 1796. A calm night. Or so it seemed...

Suddenly, a group of men surrounded the Delhayes’ house. They were very soon in the garden. The dog spotted them. Awakened by the barking, the collector’s wife rushed to the window. She saw a torch. She screamed and went to wake her husband and the maid upstairs. During this time, the men broke a window and entered the ground floor.

The spouses were quickly tied up. The maid closed the door of her room and battened down the hatches. Still asleep, the grandfather was dragged out of bed.

The two children were then placed between the couple. The bandits’ leader threatened to burn alive the house’s occupants if they didn’t reveal the location of the house’s keys and their possessions. Frightened, the woman complied. Once the spoils were collected, the men had the audacity to organise a small feast in the kitchen before disappearing.

Attached you’ll find pictures of the house at present as well as the room with the fireplace in front of which the family was threatened. Thank you to the current owners, Dr Jacques Dutrieu and Maryse Hallez, for their involvement.
21 Moneuse, the ideal culprit
After managing to get away, Mrs Delhaye alerted the authorities. An investigation then began. However, there would be many inconsistencies. First, it took one week before Judge Harmegnies reached the premises. Three exhibits would then be given to him by the municipal official who hadn’t yet conducted any investigation. There was a hat, a lantern and a medal bearing strange inscriptions.

According to legend, Moneuse was always seen wearing a lead medal with the words “calixtus pape”. Was this the ultimate proof of Moneuse’s guilt? According to some, Moneuse’s medal was actually found near the chapel of Cocars. Who to believe? It must be said that Judge Harmegnies wanted to get it over with Moneuse. He made this his own responsibility after failing to have him convicted for the Houlette massacre. For now, Moneuse was on the run and an arrest warrant had already been issued against him...

At his trial in 1798, Moneuse would be found guilty of this crime. More than the medal, it was the maid’s testimony which tipped the scales. She allegedly made a description of the attackers that seemed to resemble Moneuse ... The Delhaye couple, meanwhile, could not recognise any of the defendants.

For this case and so many others in which he was accused, the penalty would be capital punishment.
62 meters of difference in height
  • Start altitude : 45 m
  • End altitude : 46 m
  • Maximum altitude : 90 m
  • Minimum altitude : 45 m
  • Total positive elevation : 62 m
  • Total negative elevation : -61 m
  • Max positive elevation : 19 m
  • Min positive elevation : -14 m
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