Éclaibes' church and war memorialOver the years, this village was called Esclabes, Exclebs, or even Esclèbes, Esclaibes. Its name could come from the Teutonic (Germanic) Essche (ash) and Latin Ambla (alder). It could also come from the Celtic Escles (board, bank) and aiwe (water), since the water runs through the village.

A polished stone ax, Neolithic, proves the existence of human presence for about five thousand years.

The area was inhabited by Nerviens two thousand years before Christ.

It's said that Julius Caesar came in 47 BC and would have defeated the Nerviens in Saint-Rémy, not far away. The Nerviens then adopted and adapted the Roman civilization. Bavay, 15 km from Éclaibes, was an important city at the time, from which went seven Roman roads. An aqueduct from Floursies (5 km) is crossing Éclaibes to power it.

In the third century, the Franks invaded the region and arount450, the Huns plunder it. Finally, the Merovingian land.

Christianity spread; monks cleared the forests and undertook extensive sites. They founded abbeys Sainte-Aldegonde in Maubeuge in 618, Hautmont in 640, Maroilles in 653 and Liessies in 760.

In 803, Pope Leo III, going to bless the Cathedral of Aachen, stops at Hautmont. In 880, the abbey was sacked by the Normans. The area became Hainaut in 843 and was ruled by hereditary counts, vassals of the German emperors.

Éclaibes castle dates from the eleventh or twelfth century. It is enclosed by an outer wall lined ditches. A drawbridge and four inner towers connected by another wall two meters thick and a walkway constituted an effective defense. He did not have a dungeon but sixteen meters high and nine meters large towers. The tower remains (the « turn of the Witch ») housed a falcon (small cannon) that can launch projectiles of 5.5 pounds. The buildings of the manor were inside the tower: chapel, courtroom, guard room. The farm is located north, between the two walls. It is to this day still inhabited and operated.

Éclaibes' coat of arms / Jacques Lys / CC-BY-SA-3.0The coat of arms of the lords of Éclaibes has three gold crowned silver lions on red. It is decorated with a knight's helmet with crest, oak leaves and supported by two herons. « To me Éclaibes not yours » was the motto of lords and probably means « mine belongs Éclaibes ».

The lords of Éclaibes were overlords of numerous fiefs changing with time. They were vassals of the lords of Avesnes themselves vassals of the Counts of Hainaut.

From the first Crusade, after Godfrey of Bouillon and especially during the preaching of the Second Crusade in Liessies, Binche, Mons and Valenciennes by St. Bernard, the knights of Hainaut went en masse to the Holy War. Éclaibes two lords were killed. Posthumously, they received the title of Knight of Jerusalem and Mount Sinai.

Later, Louis XI, fighting a war against the Duke of Burgundy called Charles the Bold, that he finally defeated, came twice attacking Avesnes. He plundered it before setting it on fire. Then he attacked and burned Le Quesnoy and Maubeuge. It was during this period that he stayed in the castle of Éclaibes. Hainaut, however, remained a possession of Burgundy and the lords of Éclaibes were therefore vassals of Charles V. One of them, Gilles IV, became close to the Emperor and married the daughter of a powerful earl and was killed fighting the Turks, allies of François 1st in 1532.

John III, whose name appears on the stones of the castle, was chamberlain to Charles Quint. In 1535 he accompanied him in Tunis and found himself at the forefront in taking La Goulette. He would have seduced a daughter of the Bey of Tunis and had fled with her, to marry her. Cervantes tells a similar story in Don Quixote (chapters 39-41).

Éclaibes castle was besieged several times under Louis XIII and Louis XIV who coveted Hainaut, then Spanish possession. Turenne took Maubeuge in 1665 and the area became French permanently at the Peace of Nijmegen, September 17th of 1678.

Spanish troops, who had brought the plague, spread it onto farmers exhausted by privation.

Louis XIV stayed in the castle of Éclaibes at the invitation of the Prince of Croÿ who encouraged him to turn it into a stronghold since there were water and quarries. The king seemed favorable, but an incident made him change his mind. At the end of the meal, he brought the commode in order to satisfy a natural need. But the furniture was so old that it collapsed under the weight of the Sun King! « Plague of Éclaibes and its cabinet » he exclaimed! And he did fortify Maubeuge instead of Éclaibes… Until the late nineteenth century, it was an insult to the people of Éclaibes that mimic the collapse of the sovereign.

At the Battle of Wattignies in October 1793, the Prince of Coburg had barricaded all roads to block Maubeuge. Jourdan, head of Republicans helped by Carnot, had drilled many holes in hedges, then it was the heroic attacks which illustrated the little drummer Sthrau and finally the victory that unblocked Maubeuge and cut the road to Paris.

Éclaibes' churchThe last descendant of Charles de Croÿ was a baron who died without issue in 1740. He sold his land to the Duke of Orleans, father of Philippe Égalité. At his death, the liquidation of its assets was made for the benefit of its creditors. It took several years and in 1810 the castle became the property of Joseph Philippe Cuissot, Mayor of Éclaibes and ancestor of the current owners.

The church, dedicated to St. Stephen and the oldest of which dates from the twelfth century, part belonged to the abbey of Liessies. It was rebuilt in the late sixteenth and the choir in the early seventeenth century. Finally, the bell tower was rebuilt in 1889. Inside, a beautiful St. Stephen from the sixteenth century and a confessional from the eighteenth. The latter is classified as a historic monument.

In 2013, it was the subject of a complete renovation (roof, walls…). On this occasion very interesting architectural features emerged, including a restored opening that makes it possible to date the construction.

The pond created in the valley of the Cligneux creek, for the purposes of the castle, probably dates from the same era. It supplied inhabitants with fish and was the fish reserve of the abbey of Écuélin, a neighboring village. Moreover, these waters were running a mill. Originally composed of two successive ponds separated by an earthdam that still exists, the pond has an area of 5 hectares.