When Emil de Harne first arrived in the United States, about 1881, he lived initially in Ohio, where in the words of his daughter Mary, "he was robbed of his watch, stickpin (with coat of arms), and papers pertaining to the family". One of these papers was undoubtedly an 1857 genealogical history by E. Pascallet on Emil's ancestors the Counts of Harnes. Emil many years later, probably right around 1916 or so, recounted to his daughters Mary and Josephine the story that follows, which Emil no doubt recalled from Pascallet's article. As Emil was telling a story he had read 35 years previous, he can be forgiven for getting some of the names wrong. Emil's version was recorded prior to 1922 in Josephine's diary, and it reappeared in the 1960s in a family history written by Mary. Though the Englebert de Harne in these stories is called a Count of Harnes, the last Count was actually Jean of Ailly, who on Sept. 27, 1458 sold the County of Harnes to the Abbey of St. Peters of Ghent. Thus Englebert was more likely a Seignior or Sire, who administered lands that probably were not in the former County of Harnes, but in a nearby outlying district.
"All we know about the family de Haerne for the next several centuries is that a Michel de Harnus [Emil actually means Englebert d'Harne] set fire to his castle in the 16th century. Michel’s deed was the result of a war between the Kings of France and Spain. Since the Counts of Harnus held lands in fief from both Kings, the King of Spain (either Charles V or Philip the Great), being with his army in the vicinity of Harnus, sent a herald to Count Michel requesting hospitality. Michel answered, “Say to the King that it is impossible, as there is no more castle of Harnus". He then set fire to the buildings, furniture and documents. When that was done he went to the Abbey of St. Peter of Ghent and became a monk."
"When Michel became a monk he bequeathed his title and all his possessions to the Abby, thereby leaving his younger brother, from whom our branch of the de Haernes descended, to earn his bread by the sword. The de Haernes settled in Ypres and were generally government employees."
Below is the original version of the story, as translated into English from Pascallet's (1857) work.
"Englebert, the Count of Harnes, built a chapel near his home in the woods of Harnes (1). However, a political dispute concerning the possession of Artois and other provinces, escalated into war between France and Spain, and created a difficult situation for the Lord of Harnes. For Englebert supported the King of France Francis I, whereas his brother Jacques had taken deed and cause for the Spanish monarch Charles V."
"Also, because a French army in 1536 had taken possession of the province of Artois, Jacques sought refuge in the town Lille. A confiscation of wealth was announced against him to the profit of his brother Englebert. But since a truce concluded in 1536 between Charles V and Francis I brought the two monarchs to friendly relations, Englebert decided to give back to his brother the fief and lands that the king removed by confiscation. He did this by an act in the month of May 1539. Nonetheless, perceiving the probable return of hostilities between Spain and France, and the possibility of a new confiscation to the detriment his brother, Englebert took care to demonstrate that the restitution to his brother had not taken place, and that a title of trust with responsibility was made to pass the fief and lands to the care of their nephew Denys de Harne."
"If one is able to believe the local traditions, the antipathy which Englebert had conceived for the court of Spain only embittered himself to the arrival of Philippe II, who was the heir of Charles V, while Jacques attached himself more firmly to the Spanish monarch."
"Philippe II in the month of May 1558 found himself in the vicinity of Harnes. Jacques de Harne was in the retinue of the king. The latter, whether he wanted to search for an opportunity to win over Englebert, or whether he wanted, in person, to admonish him on the subject of his well-known sympathies conceived for the King of France, resolved to have a confrontation with him. He dispatched Jacques to his brother in order to demand from him hospitality in the chateau of Harnes, for the king and for his retinue. The meeting of the two brothers did not last long. Jacques left the chateau, charged to return to Phillippe a letter in which Englebert declared to the king that the chateau did not exist anymore, and that as a consequence, it was impossible for him to receive him. Phillippe, astonished by an unexpected response, thence demanded an explanation from Jacques, and the latter declared to him that at the moment when he had left the town of Harnes, he had seen the chateau spoiled by flames."
"After burning his chateau, Englebert de Harne took himself to the town of Ghent, where he was received into the abbey of Saint Peter. The year before his death, he donated all of his lands to the abbey that had given him refuge."
"Deprived of his fiefs and properties, Engelbert's nephew Denys de Harne retired to Annappes, an outlying district of the town of Lille (2). He still resided there in 1609, as attested to in an act of December 3rd of that year. His two sons, Jean and Simon de Harnes, settled down in Ypres, in Flemish-speaking Flanders, at the beginning of the 1600s, where they and their descendants allied themselves with some of the notable families of Artois."
(1) - Englebert de Harne's chapel in the woods is undoubtedly the chapel or hermitage of Notre Dame, which is said to be in the "woods of Harnes (Bois de Harnes)". Pascallet (1856) attributes this chapel to Englebert, whereas Demarquette (1867) believes that the chapel has an earlier origin in the 13th century. Demarquette (1867) also notes that whereas the chapel undoubtedly existed, references to it are few, and it was apparently completely destroyed during the French Revolution. Demarquette also reproduces a crude, hand-drawn map of the chapel (shown on the right) that he dates back to the 17th century. The original that Demarquette's (1867) plate is based on was kept in his time in the town archives of Harnes, but whether this map survived the destruction of the archives in World War I is unknown.
(2) - Englebert de Harne's existence is known primarily from Pascallet's (1857) story that is presented above. Likewise his ancestry and heirs are uncertain, as Pascallet (1857), who is not always reliable, is the primary source.
DeMarquette, Albert, 1867, Histoire Generale du Comté de Harnes en Artois, Jusu’a 1789 et de la Connetablie de Flandre: Imprimerie de Lefebvre-Ducrocq, Lille, v. II, p. 166-175. (reprinted 2006 by Livres d’Histoire, Paris). Volume II is also available for download from books.google.com.
Pascallet, E., 1857, “Historique et Genealogique sur la Maison de Harne ou Harnes” in Revue General – Memorial Municipal de France Histoire des Communes, Villes, Provinces, Monument: Au Bureau de la Revue, Chez Ledoyen, Paris, Seconde Annee de la Deuxieme Serie, p. 36-44.
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