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Ename, at the former border between the Ottonian Empire and the French Kingdom, grew into a well-known Ottonian margravial centre during the tenth century. Presently, the foundations of the Ottonian site and the Benedictine abbey are integrated into a provincial archaeological park.

  • Personalities


Mathilde Billung

Mathilde Billung (937-1009) was the daughter of the Saxon nobleman Herman Billung who become margrave of a region along the Elbe and the Baltic Sea and even deputy of king Otto I during his absence.

In 961 Mathilde married Boudewijn III, count of Flanders, and they had a son, Arnulf II, also count of Flanders. On 1 January 962 her husband died and shortly afterwards she got married a second time to Godfrey of Ardenne, count of Verdun. On the occasion of this wedding Mathilde received, an imperial estate with all inherent royal rights: the villa Ehinham (Ename).

Mathilde and Godfrey used the royal rights (tollage, market and coinage rights, jurisdiction) to develop Ename into a fiscal, administrative and territorial power base. In Ename they built a residence with a capella, to which a chapter was attached, and a fortification. After the death of Godfrey (after 998) Ename was governed by their son Herman in this spirit of loyalty to the Ottonian dynasty. Mathilde died in 1009. She was buried in the abbey of Saint Vanne in Verdun.

Herman of Ardenne-Verdun

Herman of Ardenne-Verdun (?–1029), margrave of Ename and count of Verdun is the son of Godfrey of Verdun and Mathilde Billung. Herman married Mathilde, whose family name or title is unknown, and they had at least five children. Two of them are buried in the Saint Martinus church in Velzeke.

In 1025 Herman retired from secular life and became a monk in the abbey of Saint-Vanne in Verdun, the family’s Eigenkloster, where he died in 1029. Previously he had repeatedly favoured the monastery with donations of churches, goods and precious objects and with the construction of an altar dedicated to Saint Laurentius in the abbey church.

Adelbrecht L.J. Van de Walle

Prof. dr. Adelbrecht L. J. Van de Walle (1922–2006) was a 19-year-old architectural student when he took the first bearings in search of early medieval Ename in 1941, in full war. Subsequently he studied historical sources, maps, land register plans and aerial photographs in order to localize the abbey and the castrum of Ename. A year later he started the excavations which would last until 1947. He made architectural reconstruction drawings of medieval buildings in Ename. And he laid the foundation of the large-scale archaeological investigation (1982 – 2002) that forms the basis for the subsequent historical research of the economic, political and military context of early medieval Ename. Fig. 22

Fig. 22: Professor dr. A.L.J. Van de Wallle. Credit: pamEname

Fig. 22: Professor dr. A.L.J. Van de Wallle. Credit: pamEname

Ludo J. R. Milis

Prof. Dr. Ludo J.R. Milis (*1940) wrote as a history student at the state university of Ghent his licentiate’s thesis about the domain of the Saint Salvator abbey in Ename during the Middle Ages (1063–1250) and he remained interested in the rich past of the village throughout his career. Several investigations and publications of his helped to put the village on the map. The historian Milis has made an exceptional contribution to the renewed scientific attention for Ename, which is still valid today. Fig. 23

Fig. 23: Professor dr. Ludo Milis. Credit: Ludo Milis

Fig. 23: Professor dr. Ludo Milis. Credit: Ludo Milis

Dirk Callebaut

Dirk Callebaut (*1947) is the archaeologist who excavated the castrum, the Saint Salvator site and the Saint Laurentius church in Ename. His recent historical research sheds a new light on Ename’s earliest history.

His first acquaintance with Ename came with the prospective investigation of the early medieval portus in 1978. The excavation of the castrum in 1982 was the starting point for a long-term and large-scale investigation of the early medieval pre-urban centre, the Ottonian Saint Laurentius church and the Benedictine Saint Salvator abbey, which lasted until 1999. From 2000 till 2002 the archaeological and architectural-historical investigation of the Saint Laurentius church in Ename followed. Fig. 24

Fig. 24: Dirk Callebaut. Credit: pamEname

Fig. 24: Dirk Callebaut. Credit: pamEname

46 47 48 49 50 51 52


46 Milis, Ludo, Callebaut, Dirk, ‘Ename : burcht en “pre-stedelijke” nederzettin’, in Ontstaan en vroegste geschiedenis van de middeleeuwse steden in de zuidelijke Nederlanden. Een archeologisch en historisch probleem, 14 de Internationaal Colloquium, Spa, 6-8 september 1988, Gemeentekrediet, Historische uitgaven, reeks 8°, 83, 1990, pp. 459-497

47 Van de Walle, A.L.J., ‘Historisch en archeologisch onderzoek van de portus Ename’, in Handelingen van de Maatschapprij voor Geschiedenis en Oudheidkunde te Gent, dl. II, 1945, pp. 37-51

48 Van de Walle, A.L.J., ‘Verslag van de navorsingen betreffende de St-Salvatorkerk’, in Cultureel Jaarboek Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen, jrg. 1, 1947, pp. 231-307

49 Callebaut, Dirk, ‘Ename and the Ottonian west border policy in the middle Scheldt region’, in Exchanging Medieval Material Culture. Studies on archaeology and history presented to Frans Verhaeghe, Relicta Monografieën 4, Brussel, VIOE-VUB, 2010, pp. 217-248

50 Callebaut, Dirk, ‘De Ottoonse grenspolitiek in het Midden-Scheldegebied en de sociale opgang van een Lotharingse familie’, Handelingen van de Geschied- en Oudheidkundige Kring van oudenaarde, XLVIII, 2011, pp. 373-426

51 Delploige, Jeroen, De Reu, Martine and Simons, Walter, ‘Ludo Milis. An appreciation’, in in Delploige, J., De Reu, M., Simons, W. and Vanderputten, S. (ed.), Ludo J.R. Milis : Religion, Culture, and Mentalities in the Medieval Low Countries. Selected Essays, Turnhout, Brepols, 2005, pp. 9-23

52 Vanderputten, Steven, Jocqué, Luc, ‘Bibliography of Ludo Milis’, in Delploige, J., De Reu, M., Simons, W. and Vanderputten, S. (ed.), Ludo J.R. Milis : Religion, Culture, and Mentalities in the Medieval Low Countries. Selected Essays, Turnhout, Brepols, 2005, pp. 25-47