The Meuse at Dinant
|Countries||France, Belgium, Netherlands|
|Cities||Sedan, Charleville-Mézières, Namur, Liège, Maastricht, Venlo|
|- location||Pouilly-en-Bassigny, Le Châtelet-sur-Meuse, France|
|- elevation||409 m (1,342 ft)|
|- elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|Length||925 km (575 mi)|
|Basin||34,548 km2 (13,339 sq mi)|
|- average||350 m3/s (12,360 cu ft/s)|
The Meuse (//; French: [møz]; Walloon Mouze [muːs]) or Maas (Dutch: Maas; IPA: [ˈmaːs]) is a major European river, rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea. It has a total length of 925 km (575 mi). The Meuse is the oldest river in the world.
From 1301 the upper Meuse roughly marked the western border of the Holy Roman Empire with the Kingdom of France, after Count Henry III of Bar had to receive the western part of the County of Bar (Barrois mouvant) as a French fief from the hands of King Philip IV. The border remained stable until the annexation of the Three Bishoprics Metz, Toul and Verdun by King Henry II in 1552 and the occupation of the Duchy of Lorraine by the forces of King Louis XIII in 1633. Its lower Belgian (Walloon) portion, part of the sillon industriel, was the first fully industrialized area in continental Europe.2 The Meuse and its crossings were a key objective of the last major German WWII counter-offensive on the Western Front, the Battle of the Bulge (Battle of the Ardennes) in the winter of 1944/45.
The name Meuse is derived from the French name of the river, which evolved from the Latin name Mosa. The Dutch name Maas descends from Middle Dutch Mase, which comes from the presumed but unattested Old Dutch form *Masa, from Proto-Germanic *Masō. Only modern Dutch preserves this Germanic form, however.
Despite its appearance, the Germanic name is not derived from the Latin name, judging from the change from earlier o into a, which is characteristic of the Germanic languages. Therefore, both the Latin and Germanic names were probably derived from a Celtic source, which would have been *Mosā.
The Meuse rises in Pouilly-en-Bassigny, commune of Le Châtelet-sur-Meuse on the Langres plateau in France from where it flows northwards past Sedan (the head of navigation) and Charleville-Mézières into Belgium.3
At Namur it is joined by the River Sambre. Beyond Namur the Meuse winds eastwards, skirting the Ardennes, and passes Liège before turning north. The river then forms part of the Belgian-Dutch border, except that at Maastricht the border lies further to the west. In the Netherlands it continues northwards through Venlo closely along the border to Germany, then turns towards the west, where it runs parallel to the Waal and forms part of the extensive Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta, together with the Scheldt river in its south and the Rhine in the north. The river has been divided near Heusden into the Afgedamde Maas on the right and the Bergse Maas on the left. The Bergse Maas continues under the name of Amer, which is part of De Biesbosch. The Afgedamde Maas joins the Waal, the main stem of the Rhine at Woudrichem, and then flows under the name of Boven Merwede to Hardinxveld-Giessendam, where it splits into Nieuwe Merwede and Beneden Merwede. Near Lage Zwaluwe, the Nieuwe Merwede joins the Amer, forming the Hollands Diep, which splits into Grevelingen and Haringvliet, before finally flowing into the North Sea.
The Meuse is crossed by railway bridges between the following stations (on the left and right banks respectively):
There are also numerous road bridges and around 32 ferry crossings.
The Meuse is navigable over a substantial part of its total length: In the Netherlands and Belgium, the river is part of the major inland navigation infrastructure, connecting the Rotterdam-Amsterdam-Antwerp port areas to the industrial areas upstream: Hertogenbosch, Venlo, Maastricht, Liège, Namur. Between Maastricht and Maasbracht, an unnavigable section of the Meuse is bypassed by the 36 km Juliana Canal. South of Namur, further upstream, the river can only carry more modest vessels, although a barge as long as 100 m. can still reach the French border town of Givet.
From Givet, the river is canalized over a distance of 272 kilometres. The canalized Meuse used to be called the "Canal de l'Est — Branche Nord" but was recently rebaptized into "Canal de la Meuse". The waterway can be used by the smallest barges that are still in use commercially (almost 40 metres long and just over 5 metres wide). Just upstream of the town of Commercy, the Canal de la Meuse connects with the Marne–Rhine Canal by means of a short diversion canal.4
The Cretaceous sea reptile Mosasaur is named after the river Meuse. The first fossils of it were discovered outside Maastricht 1780.
An international agreement was signed in 2002 in Ghent, Belgium about the management of the river amongst France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Also participating in the agreement were the Belgian regional governments of Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels (which is not in the basin of the Meuse but pumps running water into the Meuse).
Most of the basin area (approximately 36,000 km2) is in Wallonia (12,000 km2), followed by France (9,000 km2), the Netherlands (8,000 km2), Germany (2,000 km2), Flanders (2,000 km2) and Luxembourg (a few km2).
An International Commission on the Meuse has the responsibility of the implementation of the treaty.
The costs of this Commission are met by all these countries, in proportion of their own territory into the basin of the Meuse: Netherlands and Wallonia 30%, France 15%, Germany 14.5%, Flanders 5%, Brussels 4.5%, Kingdom of Belgium and Luxemburg 0.5%.
The map of the basin area of Meuse was joined to the text of the treaty.5
On the cultural plan, the river Meuse, as a major communication route, is the origin of the Mosan art, principally (Wallonia and France).
The first landscape painted in the Middle-Age was the landscape of Meuse. For instance Joachim Patinir 6 He was likely the uncle of Henri Blès who is sometimes defined as a Mosan landscape painter active during the second third of the 16th century (i.e., second generation of landscape painters) 7
The main tributaries of the river Meuse are listed below in downstream-upstream order, with the town where the tributary meets the river:
- Dieze (near 's-Hertogenbosch)
- Raam (river in North Brabant) (in Grave)
- Niers (in Gennep)
- Swalm (in Swalmen)
- Rur/Roer (in Roermond)
- Geleenbeek (near Maasbracht)
- Geul (near Meerssen)
- Geer/Jeker (in Maastricht)
- Voer/Fouron (in Eijsden)
- Berwinne/Berwijn (near Moelingen, part of Voeren)
- Ourthe (in Liège)
- Hoyoux (in Huy)
- Mehaigne (in Wanze)
- Sambre (in Namur)
- Bocq (in Yvoir)
- Molignée (in Anhée)
- Lesse (in Anseremme, part of Dinant)
- Viroin (in Vireux-Molhain)
- Semois or Semoy (in Monthermé)
- Sormonne (in Warcq)
- Bar (near Dom-le-Mesnil)
- Chiers (in Bazeilles)
- Vair (in Maxey-sur-Meuse)
- Mouzon (in Neufchâteau, Vosges)
- Saônelle (in Coussey)
The mean annual discharge rate of the Meuse has been relatively stable over the last few thousand years. One recent study estimates that average flow has increased about 10% since 2000 BC.8 The hydrological distribution of the Meuse changed during the later Middle Ages, when a major flood forced it to shift its main course northwards towards the Merwede river. From then on, several stretches of the original Merwede were named "Maas" (i.e. Meuse) instead and served as the primary outflow of that river. Those branches are currently known as the Nieuwe Maas and Oude Maas.
However, during another series of severe floods the Meuse found an additional path towards the sea, resulting in the creation of the Biesbosch wetlands and Hollands Diep estuaries. Thereafter, the Meuse split near Heusden into two main distributaries, one flowing north to join the Merwede, and one flowing directly to the sea. The branch of the Meuse leading directly to the sea eventually silted up, (and now forms the Oude Maasje stream), but in 1904 the canalised Bergse Maas was dug to take over the functions of the silted-up branch. At the same time, the branch leading to the Merwede was dammed at Heusden, (and has since been known as the Afgedamde Maas) so that little water from the Meuse entered the old Maas courses, or the Rhine distributaries. The resulting separation of the rivers Rhine and Meuse is considered to be the greatest achievement in Dutch hydraulic engineering before the completion of the Zuiderzee Works and Delta Works. In 1970 the Haringvlietdam has been finished. Since then the reunited Rhine and Meuse waters reach the North Sea either at this site or, during times of lower discharges of the Rhine, at Hoek van Holland.9
One recent study 10 notes that the difference between summer and winter flow volumes has increased significantly in the last 100–200 years. These workers point out that the frequency of serious floods (i.e. flows > 1000% of normal) has increased markedly. They predict that winter flooding of the Meuse may become a recurring problem in the coming decades.
- Vosges: Neufchâteau
- Meuse: Commercy, Saint-Mihiel, Verdun, Stenay
- Ardennes: Sedan, Charleville-Mézières, Givet
- Namur: Dinant, Namur
- Liège: Huy, Liège, Visé
- Limburg: Maastricht, Stein, Maasbracht, Roermond, Venlo, Gennep
- Limburg: Maaseik
- North Brabant: Boxmeer, Cuijk, Grave, Ravenstein, Lith, Heusden, Aalburg, Woudrichem
- Gelderland: Maasdriel
- South Holland: Dordrecht, Maassluis, Rotterdam
The Meuse (Maas) is mentioned in the (nowadays not sung) first stanza of the Deutschlandlied German national anthem. The lyrics written in 1841 describe a then–disunited Germany with the river as its western boundary, where King William I of the Netherlands had joined the German Confederation with his Duchy of Limburg in 1839. Though the duchy's territory officially became an integral part of the Netherlands by the 1867 Treaty of London, the text passage remained unchanged when the Deutschlandlied was declared the national anthem of the Weimar Republic in 1922.
- Marcel de Wit, Robert Leander, Adri Buishand: Extreme discharges in the Meuse basin, p. 2
(The frequently mentioned figure of 250 m³/s refers to the Borgharen gauge near the frontier between Belgium and the Netherlands representing two thirds of the basin.)
- (French) "Wallonie : une région en Europe". Ministère de la Région wallonne. Retrieved September 29, 2007.
- (French) SANDRE Fiche cours d'eau La Meuse (B---0000)
- NoorderSoft Waterways database
- Accord international sur la Meuse
- French: Les rochers par lesquels l'art gothique suggère conventionnellement un site sauvage et désertique, sont présents. Comme d'aucuns l'ont remarqué, ces pics rocheux qui vont devenir chez Patinier, indissociables de l'évocation d'un paysage ressemblent à ceux qu'il a pu voir dans la région dinantaise (...) Mais il va de soi que les paysages représentés ne sont jamais dans leur ensemble la transposition de sites existants. L'espace tel que le conçoit Patinier est d'un autre ordre que celui qui s'offre au spectateur dans la réalité. in 'L'essor du paysage' in Jacques Stiennon, Jean-Patrick Duchesne, Yves Randaxhe, Cinq siècles de peinture en Wallonie, Les éditeurs d'art associés, Bruxelles, 1988, p. 67-72. The landscape of the Mosan valley is the inspiration of Patinier but the result of this inspiration was not a painture of this landscape.
- Contribution of scientific methods to the understanding of the work of the 16th century painter, Henri Bles Université de Liège
- Ward PJ, H Renssen, JCJH Aerts, RT van Balen & J Vandenberghe (2008), "Strong increases in flood frequency and discharge of the River Meuse over the Late Holocene: impacts of long-term anthropogenic land use change and climate variability". Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 12: 159-175. http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/12/159/2008/hess-12-159-2008.pdf [Ward et al., 2008]
- Rijkswaterstaat: Water Management in the Netherlands, 2011
- Ward et al., 2008
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