This route takes you in the footsteps of Antoine-Joseph Moneuse, the famous bandit and Captain of the Chauffeurs du Nord.
During this walk, you’ll relive this dark day of 22 November 1795. At that date, one of the most bloody events to have hit our region took place: the Houlette massacre.
Moneuse was soon suspected of being the perpetrator of this heinous crime that killed nine people. But the truth is never simple ...
Through the fields and paths of Roisin and Meaurain and the French village of La Flamangrie, you’ll have to cross the Franco-Belgian border several times where our region was torn between Austria and France, recalling a troubled period of history.
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
- 66.32 m
- Points of interest
1 A troubled period
2 Saint-Brice church
Inside, and to the left of the building, is the so-called ”du Château” chapel. Under it is a crypt where the bodies of the old lords of Roisin lay to rest.
In the centre of the small nave on the right is the chapel or the sanctuary of Saint Ghislain, protector of pregnant women and early childhood.
Sources: C. Debiève - http://users.skynet.be/cbou/roisin/eglise.htm
3 The vanished vineyard
Towards the 600s, Roisin was only a part of the town of Meaurain (unlike today). Roisin was simply the land of grapes. Our country indeed had many vineyards at that time. This path crosses the area where this cultivation took place. It is still called “vineyard field”.
An old communal seal also represents the armours of Roisin surmounted by a helmet dominated by a monkey holding the lord’s banner in one hand, and a bunch of grapes in the other.
Another seal existed, with the letters DR in the centre and around the inscription “De Roisin vient le vin” (From Roisin comes wine). These two documents, of which we have a photo, prove that a vineyard existed in Roisin.
You can view the pictures of these seals.
Sources: C. Debiève - http://users.skynet.be/cbou/roisin/vignoble.htm
4 Saint Cécile
Mr Gumez was a violinist from Roisin. That night, he played in Bry (nearby French municipality) with his sidekick called Godin. At the end of the evening, the latter suggested to Gumez that they stop by at Houlette hostel located on the border between the two villages for one last drink. So they were on their way to the inn run by Jean-Philippe Couez.
There the celebrations were in full swing. An orchestra assembled in front of the door were playing fiery tunes which people were dancing to inside. Couples were formed and unformed. People were drinking, laughing, forgetting the everyday grind. There were absolutely no apparent clues to the impending tragedy...
5 Night falls on Roisin
Night fell on Roisin and death hovered over Houlette inn...
6 A macabre discovery
The room was in darkness, barely lit by the embers of the extinguished fire. In this nightmarish setting, he went on to make a horrible discovery.
He immediately rushed outside towards Roisin to raise the alarm. “It’s Moneuse!”
Moneuse ... No sooner were the corpses cold than the name was already dropped.
Meet at Houlette to discover the harsh toll of this terrible news item.
And what a heinous crime! The word massacre is more apt. Nine corpses would be found, bathed in their own blood. Men, women and children... no member of the Couez family escaped the murderers’ wrathful madness. Doctor Hubert Moreau also numbered among the victims.
Listen to the detailed report of the crime scene written by the surgeon using the audio file provided. (Voice: Roland Thibeau of Roulotte Théâtrale.)
In this case, another name quickly comes to mind: Trognon, first name Jean-Joseph. He was a fellow traveller of Moneuse. He lived in the French border village of Flamengrie. This is the next stage in this route.
9 The missing gun
10 Boundary marker
Draw closer and spend some time observing it. On one side, it is printed with the three fleur-de-lis representing France, and on the other with the two-headed eagle representing Austria.
12 Boundary marker
13 Towards the detention centre
Moneuse and Trognon were brought to Mons detention centre on 3 December and the investigation began the next day.
14 Judge Harmegnies
However, after two weeks of incessant interrogations and visits to Houlette, he was still unable to lay a solid charge.
Moneuse said he had an alibi. On the day of the tragedy he was at Thulin, at his mistress’s. Two witnesses attested to this. A parish priest claimed he saw Moneuse in his parish that day. And then there’s the widow Gilmant (his mistress’s mother) who came to testify in Mons, stating that Moneuse was hunting duck in Thulin on the day of the crime and that he definitely spent the night at her place.
15 Saint-Amand former church
In front of you stands the former Saint-Amand church. Desecrated on 6 March 2006, it currently houses Honnelles’ cultural centre.
About the steeple, note that it houses a triptych probably dating from the 15th century, saved from the inevitable destruction of an older religious building following the ravages of 1789.
16 The missing gun
Is it just a coincidence? Did they realise that the two pieces didn’t fit together? Another detail: the surgeons’ report makes no mention of the use of the shotgun or the butt in their report.
The mystery thus deepened.
17 The law decides
Trognon remained in prison. He had already had dealings with the law beforehand and his statements occasionally lacked precision. He died mysteriously in his cell on 21 February 1796.
Moneuse was therefore a free man. At least for the moment ... because his life had many ups and downs and he would have to face justice in other cases.
18 The mystery still persists
Ultimately, the mystery still persists and we’ll probably never know the truth.
Thank you for journeying on this themed route in the footsteps of Antoine-Joseph Moneuse.
- 66 meters of difference in height