The town hall
|Intercommunality||Communauté d'agglomération Valenciennes Métropole|
|• Mayor (2014–2020)||Laurent Degallaix (UDI)|
|13.82 km2 (5.34 sq mi)|
|• Density||3,200/km2 (8,300/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||17–56 m (56–184 ft) |
(avg. 42 m or 138 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
Valenciennes ( // , also UK: // , US: /-, ( )/ , French: [valɑ̃sjɛn] (
It lies on the Scheldt (French : Escaut) river. Although the city and region experienced a steady population decline between 1975 and 1990, it has since rebounded. The 1999 census recorded that the population of the commune of Valenciennes was 41,278, and that of the metropolitan area was 399,677.
Valenciennes is first mentioned in 693 in a legal document written by Clovis II (Valentiana). In the 843 Treaty of Verdun, it was made a neutral city between Neustria and the Austrasia. Later in the 9th century the region was overrun by the Normans, and in 881 the town passed to them. In 923 it passed to the Duchy of Lower Lotharingia dependent on the Holy Roman Empire. Once the Empire of the Franks was established, the city began to develop, though the archaeological record has still not revealed all it has to reveal about this period. Under the Ottonian emperors, Valenciennes became the centre of marches on the border of the Empire.
In 1008, a terrible famine brought the Plague. According to the local tradition, the Virgin Mary held a cordon around the city which, miraculously, has since protected its people from the disease. Since then, every year at that time, the Valenciennois used to walk around the 14 kilometres (9 miles) road round the town, in what is called the tour of the Holy Cordon. Many Counts succeeded, first as Margraves of Valenciennes and from 1070 as counts of Hainaut.
In 1259 Valenciennes was the site of a General Chapter of the Dominican Order at which Thomas Aquinas together with masters Bonushomo Britto,Florentius, Albert, and Peter took part in establishing a ratio studiorum or program of studies for the Dominican Order that featured the study of philosophy as an innovation for those not sufficiently trained to study theology. This innovation initiated the tradition of Dominican scholastic philosophy put into practice, for example, in 1265 at the Order's studium provinciale at the convent of Santa Sabina in Rome, out of which would develop the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum.
In 1285, the currency of Hainaut was replaced by the currency of France: the French écu. Valenciennes was full of activity, with numerous corporations, and outside its walls a large number of convents developed, like that of the Dominicans (whose church was excavated by the Valenciennes Archaeological Service in 1989 and 1990).
In the 14th century, the Tower of Dodenne was built by Albert of Bavaria, where even today, the bell is rung in honour of Our Lady of the Holy Cordon. In the 15th century, the County of Hainault, of which Valenciennes is part, was re-attached to Burgundy, losing its autonomy. Valenciennes in this period, however, had several famous sons – the chronicler Georges Chastellain, the poet Jean Molinet, the miniaturist Simon Marmion, the sculptor Pierre du Préau and the goldsmith Jérôme de Moyenneville).
In 1524, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, arrived at Valenciennes, and – even when Henry II of France allied with him against the Protestants in 1552 – Valenciennes became (c. 1560) an early center of Calvinism and in 1562 was location of the first act of resistance against persecution of Protestants in the Spanish Netherlands. On the "Journée des Mals Brûlés" (Bad Burnings Day) in 1562, a mob freed some Protestants condemned to die at the stake. In the wave of iconoclastic attacks called the Beeldenstorm that swept the Habsburg Netherlands in the summer of 1566, the city was the furthest south to see such an attack on 24 August 1566. It was also one of the first to feel the hand of repression after the siege and fall of the city on 23 March 1567. One of the victims of that repression was Guido de Bres, the author of the Belgic Confession. Following the "révolte des gueux's victory at Brielle, the army of Louis of Nassau, one of the major commanders of the Dutch rebel forces and supported by the Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny, invaded the Spanish Netherlands with an army composed of German, English, Scottish and French soldiers, and took Valenciennes on 21 May 1572.However, Louis went on to Mons, and the Protestant garrison left behind offered only a feeble defence to the Duke of Alba, at the head of the bulk of the Spanish army, who recaptured Valenciennes in early June 1572, depriving Louis' French allies, of one of their main bases.
In 1576, when for a time the Southern Netherlands joined the revolt, the Spanish forces massed at the porte d'Anzin (in a fortress known as "La Redoute") were besieged by Valenciennes. However, in 1580, Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma took Valenciennes and Protestantism was eradicated there. Hereafter, Valenciennes remained under Spanish protection, no longer directly involved in later fighting of the Eighty Years' War. With its manufacturers of wool and fine linens, the city was able to become economically independent.
In 1591, the Jesuits built a school and then the foundations of a church of Sainte-Croix. In 1611, the façade of the town hall was completely rebuilt in magnificent Renaissance style. In the seventeenth century the Scheldt was channelled between Cambrai and Valenciennes, benefitting Valenciennes' wool, fabric and fine arts. To use up flax yarn, women began to make the famous Valenciennes lace.
The French army laid siege to the city in 1656 (Vauban participated in this siege without a command). Defending the city, Albert de Merode, marquis de Trélon was injured during a sortie on horseback, died as a result of his injuries and was buried in the Church of St. Paul (his tomb was found during the archaeological campaign in 1990). The Spanish victory in the Battle of Valenciennes (16 July 1656) lifted the French siege.
In 1677, the armies of Louis XIV of France (this time led by Vauban) captured the city and in 1678 the Treaty of Nijmegen gave the French control of Valenciennes (1678) and the surrounding southern part of Hainault, roughly cutting the former county in half. The city became one of the main strongholds of northern France, and was fortified by Vauban, who personally visited the town for that purpose shortly after the Treaty.
During the Enlightenment era, the economic situation of Valenciennes was in decline until the discovery of coal. The first pit was dug in Fresnes in 1718 and the discovery of burnable coal in 1734 at the porte d'Anzin led to the formation of the Compagnie des mines d'Anzin. In the eighteenth century, the city was equally renowned for its porcelain – indeed, it was the porcelain furnaces' demand for coal that led to the mining enterprises. Despite their quality of production, the company failed to be sustainable. Valenciennes, rich in artistic talent, became known as the Athens of the North (i.e. North of France), underlining its artistic influence.
The city was besieged by the First Coalition against Revolutionary France in 1793.Following a protracted Siege of Valenciennes the city was captured and occupied in July by Anglo-Austrian forces under the Duke of York and the Prince of Saxe-Coburg, and only retaken by the French Revolutionary armies in August 1794. In July 1795, one year after the execution of Robespierre put an end to the Reign of Terror, the Republicans of Valenciennes tortured, and guillotined five Ursuline nuns; by some accounts, the nuns were raped before being executed. After the Napoleonic era, Valenciennes gave itself up to the Bourbons in 1815 for 5 years. After that, the town's sugar-refining and coal industries once more started to expand.
In 1824 Valenciennes became a sous-préfecture. In the 19th century, thanks to coal, Valenciennes became a great industrial centre and the capital of Northern France's steel industry.
On 6 August 1890, a law downgraded the town's fortified status, and so from 1891 to 1893, its fortifications were demolished. The town was granted the Légion d'honneur in 1900.
During World War I the German army occupied the town in 1914. They were finally driven out by British forces at the Battle of Valenciennes in 1918, 'in which seven British divisions attacked eleven German divisions'. One dramatic first-hand experience of this battle is provided by A. S. Bullock who fought at a section of the front near Maresches..
A significant personality of this period was Louise de Bettignies (born in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux), a pupil of the Ursulines in Valenciennes from 1890 to 1896. Fluent in four languages (including German), in 1915 she created and directed the main British intelligence network behind enemy lines, nearly 60 km (37 mi) from the front around Lille. Arrested at the end of September 1915, and imprisoned in Germany, she died of mistreatment in September 1918 two months before the Armistice. It is estimated that she saved the lives of nearly a thousand British soldiers by the remarkably precise information she obtained. For example, it enabled the British to conduct the first aerial bombing of a train (that of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who came to visit the front at Lille), though both aircraft were not equipped with suitable viewfinders and so the raid narrowly missed its target. The German High Command, based in Brussels, then put all its efforts into neutralising the accursed network that allowed the British to see everything and know everything about this part of the front. Louise's arrest was associated with the escape of Szeck Alexandre, a young Austrian radio operator who got out of Brussels in August 1915, allowing the British to get their hands on the secret German diplomatic code. This code was exploited by Secret Service Room 40 ("Room 40"), under the supervision of Sir Reginald Hall, and in January 1917 allowed the decipherment of the famous Zimmermann Telegram, which triggered the United States' entry into the war in April 1917.
Valenciennes was retaken after bitter fighting in 1918, by British and Canadian troops (one of whose soldiers, a recipient of the Victoria Cross Sergeant Hugh Cairns, was honoured in 1936 when the city named an avenue after him).
On May 10, 1940, the town's inhabitants fled by road and it was abandoned to looters from the French army.[ citation needed ] A huge fire devoured the heart of the town, fuelled in particular by a fuel depot. German troops then occupied the ruined city on May 27. On September 2, 1944, after bloody fighting, American troops entered Valenciennes and liberated the city.
The town's first antenna was set up in Lille in 1964, then the Centre universitaire was set up in 1970, becoming independent in 1979 as the University of Valenciennes and Hainaut-Cambrésis.
In 2005, a local resident, Isabelle Dinoire, became the first person to have a partial face transplant.
The Hindenburg Line ran through Valenciennes during World War I, leading to extensive destruction. Valenciennes was again almost completely destroyed during World War II, and has since been rebuilt in concrete.
A few surviving monuments are: 1) The façade of the town hall, which managed to survive the bombardments of the war; 2) Notre-Dame du Saint-Cordon, to which there is an annual pilgrimage; 3) La Maison Espagnole, the remains of the Spanish occupation, which ended in 1678. The building is now used as the town's tourist information office; 4) The Dodenne Tower, the remaining part of the medieval fortifications after Charles V ordered them reduced; 5) Théâtre le Phenix, a theatre and performing arts venue constructed in 1998; 6) The "Beffroi", a large, pin-like monument 45 metres (148 feet) in height, built in 2007 on the site of the former belfry.
Valenciennes is historically renowned for its lace. Until the 1970s, the main industries were steel and textiles. Since their decline, reconversion attempts focus mainly on automobile production. In 2001, Toyota built its Western European assembly line for the Toyota Yaris in Valenciennes. Because of this and other changes, the average unemployment in the region is now lower than the national average.
On 15 July 2004 the Administrative Board of the European Union's Railway Agency held its first meeting in Phénix, with representatives of the 25 Member States and François Lamoureux, those days Director General for Energy and Transportation at the European Commission. Valenciennes was picked as the European Railway Agency headquarters in December 2003. International conferences are held in Lille.
Line No. 1 of the Tramway de Valenciennes was put into service on 3 July 2006. 9.5 km (5.9 mi) long, this tramway crosses the five communes in the Valenciennois Metropolitan area, at a cost of 242.75 million Euros.
The Gare de Valenciennes railway station offers connections with Lille, Paris and several regional destinations.
Valenciennes is a subprefecture of the Nord département.
Louis Cattiaux (1904-1953), philosoph, painter and poet, was born in Valenciennes.
Valenciennes FC is based in the city.
Valenciennes is twinned with:
Nord is a department in the far north of France. It was created from the western halves of the historical counties of Flanders and Hainaut, and the Bishopric of Cambrai. The modern coat of arms was inherited from the County of Flanders.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais is a former administrative region of France. Since 1 January 2016, it is part of the new region Hauts-de-France. It consisted of the departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais. Nord-Pas-de-Calais borders the English Channel (west), the North Sea (northwest), Belgium and Picardy (south). The majority of the region was once part of the historical (Southern) Netherlands, but gradually became part of France between 1477 and 1678, particularly during the reign of king Louis XIV. The historical French provinces that preceded Nord-Pas-de-Calais are Artois, French Flanders, French Hainaut and (partially) Picardy. These provincial designations are still frequently used by the inhabitants.
Lille is a city at the northern tip of France, in French Flanders. On the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium, it is the capital of the Hauts-de-France region, the prefecture of the Nord department, and the main city of the European Metropolis of Lille.
Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, Seigneur de Vauban, later Marquis de Vauban commonly referred to as Vauban, was a French military engineer, who participated in each of the wars fought by France during the reign of Louis XIV.
Arras is the capital (chef-lieu/préfecture) of the Pas-de-Calais department, which forms part of the region of Hauts-de-France; prior to the reorganization of 2014 it was located in Nord-Pas-de-Calais. The historic centre of the Artois region, with a Baroque town square, Arras is located in Northern France at the confluence of the Scarpe river and the Crinchon River.
Joan, often called Joan of Constantinople, ruled as Countess of Flanders and Hainaut from 1205 until her death. She was the elder daughter of Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders and Hainaut, and Marie of Champagne.
Maubeuge is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.
Le Quesnoy (Dutch:Kiezenet) is a commune and small town in the east of the Nord department of northern France; accordingly its historic province is French Hainaut. It had a keynote industry in shoemaking before the late 1940s, followed by a chemical factory and dairy, giving way to its weekly market, tourism, local commuting to elsewhere such as Valenciennes and local shops.
The Valenciennes tramway is a tram system serving Valenciennes and part of its surrounding areas, in the Nord department of France. Since 2014 the network consists of two lines with a total of 33.8 mi (54.4 km) of track and 48 stations.
The Siege of Lille took place during the War of Devolution. Louis XIV's forces besieged Lille from 10 August to 26 September 1667. It was the only major engagement of the war. Lille was the first major victory for Vauban’s siege techniques. Louis XIV, arguing that the Spanish dowry of his wife Maria Theresa of Spain had not been paid, began to expand French borders to the north and east, invading the Spanish Netherlands. This began a conflict with Spain that became the War of Devolution. After taking Charleroi, Tournai and Douai, French troops laid siege to Lille, at that time part of the county of Flanders under Spanish rule. Siege techniques applied by the French military engineer Vauban were instrumental in their capture.
Condé-sur-l'Escaut is a commune of the Nord department in northern France.
The Siege of Lille was the salient operation of the 1708 campaign season during the War of the Spanish Succession. After an obstinate defence of 120 days, the French garrison surrendered the city and citadel of Lille, commanded by Marshal Boufflers, to the forces of the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene.
The Siege of Valenciennes took place from 28 February to 17 March 1677, during the Franco-Dutch War, when Valenciennes, then in the Spanish Netherlands, was attacked by a French army under the duc de Luxembourg. Siege operations were supervised by French military engineer Vauban and the town surrendered on 17 March; it was formally ceded to France by Spain under the August 1678 Treaty of Nijmegen.
The Siege of Cambrai took place from 20 March to 19 April 1677 during the 1672-1678 Franco-Dutch War; then part of the Spanish Netherlands, it was invested by a French army under the duc de Luxembourg. Siege operations were supervised by the military engineer Vauban; Louis XIV was present and nominally in command but he played little part in operations.
The Siege of Besançon took place between 25 April to 22 May 1674 during the Franco-Dutch War, when French forces invaded Franche-Comté, then under Spanish rule. Under the 1678 Treaties of Nijmegen, the province was annexed by France and Besançon replaced Dole as the regional capital.
The Siege of Mons of 1572 took place at Mons, capital of the County of Hainaut, Spanish Netherlands, between 23 June and 19 September 1572, as part of the Eighty Years' War, the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604), and the French Wars of Religion. In the spring of 1572, after the capture of Valenciennes by a Protestant force under Louis of Nassau, the Dutch commander continued with his offensive and took Mons by surprise on 24 May. After three months of siege, and the defeats of the armies of Jean de Hangest, seigneur d'Yvoy and Genlis, and William the Silent, Prince of Orange (Dutch: Willem van Oranje), by the Spanish army led by Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, and his son, Don Fadrique de Toledo, Louis of Nassau's forces, isolated and without any hope of help, surrendered Mons to the Duke of Alba on 19 September.
The Siege of Condé saw a force made up of Habsburg Austrians and French Royalists commanded by Duke Ferdinand Frederick Augustus of Württemberg lay siege to a Republican French garrison led by Jean Nestor de Chancel. After a blockade lasting about three months the French surrendered the fortress. The operation took place during the War of the First Coalition, part of a larger conflict known as the French Revolutionary Wars. Condé-sur-l'Escaut, France is located near the Belgium border about 14 kilometres (9 mi) northeast of Valenciennes.
The Compagnie des mines d'Anzin was a large French mining company in the coal basin of Nord-Pas-de-Calais in northern France. It was established in 1756 and operated for almost 200 years.
Charles de Montsaulnin, Comte de Montal (1619–1696) was a 17th century French military officer and noble who served in the wars of Louis XIV.
The Siege of Ghent was the last operation of the 1708 campaign season during the War of the Spanish Succession. After successfully taking Lille shortly before, the Duke of Marlborough moved his forces onto the town of Ghent where after a 12-day siege the town's governor, Count de la Motte, surrendered.
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