Amiens, Albert and Abbeville (département Somme) -- Picardie (Picardy)  

Amiens: Amiens, the Roman Samarobriva, was the central settlement of the Ambiani, one of the principal tribes of Gaul. By tradition, it was at the gates of Amiens that Saint Martin of Tours, at the time still a Roman soldier, shared his cloak with a beggar. Saint Honorius (Honoré) (d. 600 AD) was the seventh bishop of the city. In more modern history Amiens was the capital of Picardie, the province where the English and French fought for 100 years.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens is the tallest complete cathedral in France. The construction of the cathedral in the late 13th Century can be seen as resulting from a coming together of necessity and opportunity. The destruction of earlier buildings and attempts at rebuilding by fire forced the fairly rapid construction of a building that, consequently, has a good deal of artistic unity. The long and relatively peaceful reign of Louis IX of France brought a prosperity to the region, based of thriving agriculture and a booming cloth trade, that made the investment possible. The great cathedrals of Reims and Chartres are roughly contemporary. Statues of saints in the portal of the cathedral have been identified as including the locally venerated Saints Victoricus and Gentian, Saint Domitius, Saint Ulphia, and Saint Fermin. The cathedral contains the alleged head of John the Baptist, a relic brought from Constantinople by Wallon de Sarton as he was returning from the Fourth Crusade.

The Diocese of Amiens was a suffragan of the archdiocese of Reims during the old regime. Among the bishops of Amiens were: Jessé, who played an important part in the time of Charlemagne, and was deposed under Louis the Pious; William of Mâcon, at the end of the thirteenth century, called the greatest jurist of the University of Paris; Jean de Lagrange, known as the Cardinal of Amiens (d. 1402), who figured prominently in the great Schism; the Franciscan monk, François Faure, preacher at the court of Louis XIV, who converted to Catholicism the Duke de Montausier and James II, the future King of England. The beautiful churches of St. Ricquier and Corbie perpetuate the memory of the great Benedictine abbeys and homes of learning founded in these places in 570 and 662.

Amiens Cathedral Project -- many views -- Postcards of the Past: Amiens, Somme

By August 1918, the British army was confident. It had defeated the great German attacks, and it was believed that the Kaiser was on the retreat, if not physically then psychologically. During July, Foch planned a railroad clearance operation using the British Fourth Army, while Germany was busy on the Marne. Leaving North and NE out of Amiens (towards Albert) Allied forces advanced over seven miles on the first day; the action proved a success, but with losses no one would accept today. The total British casualties amounted to just over 22,200 of all ranks, killed, wounded and missing. Cavalry Corps losses were 887 (of which 101 died); III Corps 6,250 (4,012); Canadian Corps 9,074 (2,266), and Australian Corps 5,991 (850). German losses were approximately 74,000. --


Albert: Albert, established as a Roman outpost called Encre in the mid-first Century BC, is remembered best today as the place of the Battle of the Somme in World War I. There were three battles there. Albert was completely reconstructed after the war, including widening and re-orienting the town's main streets. The Basilica was faithfully rebuilt according to its original design by Eduoard Duthoit, the son of the architect who had overseen its construction in 1885-95. Musée Somme-1916 -- Australians at Albert

Abbeville: Abbeville is located on the Somme River, 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the modern access to the English Channel, and is 25 miles (45 kilometers) northwest of Amiens. In the medieval period, Abbeville was fording point on the Somme; so it was nearby that Edward III's army crossed shortly before the Battle of Crécy in 1346.

The name Abbeville first appears in history during the 9th century. At that time it belonged to the abbey of Saint-Riquier. Afterwards, the Counts of Ponthieu governed. It came into the possession of the Alenon and other French families, and later, the House of Castile. Under a marriage contract, it passed to King Edward I of England (1272). The French and English remained alternating masters by turns until 1435. By the treaty of Arras, Abbeville was ceded to the Duke of Burgundy. In 1477, it then became part of the holdings of the family of King Louis XI of France. Louis XII of France married Mary Tudor in the cathedral of Abbeville. Princess Mary Tudor was born to Henry VII and Elizabeth of York on March 18, 1496. She was the youngest child of the King and his consort to live past childhood.

The city was very picturesque until the early days of the Second World War, when it was bombed to rubble in one night by the Germans. The town is now mostly modern and rebuilt. The church of St. Vulfran's, constructed in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, remains incomplete. The nave has only two bays and the choir is small. The façade is a fine specimen of a flamboyant Gothic design, flanked by two Gothic-style towers. Saint Wulfram of Fontenelle (or Saint Wulfram) was educated at Clovis II's court and showed a gift for academic learning. Two churches dedicated to him in England are at Grantham (Lincolnshire) and Ovingdean (Sussex) and one at Abbeville, in the French département of Somme. As a patron saint, he protects against the dangers of the sea. St. Wulfram's feast day is kept on 20 March. He was buried in St. Paul’s chapel in the abbey but in 704, he was re-buried in the main church. The body was again moved in 1058, this time to the collegiate church of Our Lady in Abbeville, which was then re-dedicated in Wulfram’s name. The translation of his body to Abbeville is commemorated on October 15th. His relics are lost.

St-Riquier is now a small, quiet village 3 miles (5km) to the east of Abbeville. But once it was an important center in Charlemagne's empire. The Abbey Centula (or Saint Riquer) (founded in the 7th century) was subject to his son-in-law, Abbot Angilbert, the poet and Homer of the Palatine Court. The abbey was substantially rebuilt at the end of the 8th Century. The new church was dedicated to the Saviour and Tous Saints, although the tomb of Saint Riquer (d. 645) dominated the apse. Nothing remains of that structure or the abbey at large. Instead, the chief visual interest is the amazing church, which dominates the village-centre. Of cathedral-like proportions, it is a masterpiece of the 15th century French flamboyant gothic style. Pictures are here.

Albert Bascilica

Soissons -- Compiègne -- Beauvais -- Senlis -- Boulogne-sur-Mer, Dunkerque, Calais & Lille -- Mainz / Mayence -- Trier / Trèves -- Aachen / Aix-la-Chapelle -- Reims -- Lens, Arras & Cambrai -- Saint-Quentin and Laon

Celtic/Frank History -- Germaniæ Historicæ -- Anglo Saxons

Reformation from a French-Protestant point of view

Current Newsletter

New: 09/25/08