Beauvais in Picardie (Oise département), France   

Beauvais lies at the foot of wooded hills on the left bank of the Thérain at its confluence with the Avelon. The Romans knew the settlement there as Bratuspantium as well as Caesaromagus (gallo-roman name). The post-Renaissance Latin rendering is Bellovacum, after the name of the local Celtic group, Belgæ peoples of the Bellovaci tribe, whose capital it was.

In 328AD Constantine, who would be the first Christian leader of the Roman Empire, visited the veterans of his army dans le castrum de Bellovacis. Tradition looks upon St. Lucianus, sent to Beauvais by Pope Fabianus and martyred, about 275, with his companions Maxianus and Julianus, as those who established the Christian Faith in that town. The martyrdom of St. Romana under Diocletian, of St. Just (about 419), of St. Maxentia, daughter of the King of Scotland, (450), render the primitive Church of Beauvais illustrious. The early bishops of Beauvais are largely legendary, but a document records that the bishop who occupied the position from 632 to 660 was the thirteenth incumbent. One name, that of Bishop Pierre Cauchon (1420-32), is sullied in the condemnation of Sainte Jeanne d'Arc.

In the next millennium, Beauvais became one of the few ecclesiastical courts of the original Peers who elected the sovereign of the realm of France. The Bishop had the ceremonial privilege to wear the royal mantle at the coronation of French kings, and the Bishop of Beauvais, together with the Bishop of Langres, raised the new sovereign from his throne to present him to his subjects. During the Hundred Years War the English (who claimed the area) besieged the town twice (1346, 1433). The siege which it suffered in 1472 at the hands of the Burgundians (Charles the Bold) was made famous by the heroic defense of the women of the town, under the leadership of Jeanne Hachette, still celebrated by a procession every year. Once held on the 14th of October (the feast of Sainte Angadrême - a seventh century abbess of the Benedictine convent of Oroër-des-Vierges, near Beauvais), it now occurs in Juin.

The Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Beauvais, in some respects the most daring achievement of Gothic architecture, consists only of a transept and quire with apse and seven apse-chapels. The vaulting in the interior exceeds 50 meters (150 ft.) in height. It sits on the site of a small Romanesque church of the tenth century known as the Basse Œuvre. It is known for several structural failures as design exceeded engineering abilities. Moreover, the absence of the shouldering support of a nave contributes to the structural weakness of the cathedral. Yet, its façades, especially that on the south, exhibit all the richness of the late Gothic style. The choir has always been wholeheartedly admired: Eugène Viollet-le-Duc called the Beauvais choir the Parthenon of French Gothic. Église Saint Étienne, the second church of the town represents an interesting example of the transition stage between the Romanesque and Gothic styles.

The hôtel de ville, close to which stands the statue of Jeanne Hachette, was built in 1752. En mars 1918, l’Hôtel de Ville devient le Q.G. du général Foch, et c’est là qu’il se voit confier le commandement suprême des armées alliées, par les gouvernements français, anglais et américain. Beauvais was fire-bombed by the Nazi's in 1940. « Bonne ville de France, vieille cité de l’Ile-de-France, cité meurtrie, cité mutilée … ». C’est en ces termes que le Général de Gaulle salue Beauvais en août 1945. The episcopal palace (next to Saint Stephens), now used as a court-house, was built in the sixteenth century, partly upon the Gallo-Roman fortifications. Several other structures from the 12th to 16th centuries still remain in the city centre. Pictures from throughout the city can be found HERE and HERE (including 50 images of Le Tour de France à Beauvais). If you read French go to, s.v.p.

Arques-la-Bataille (Seine-Maritime) -- Le 21 septembre 1589: Près de Arques, dans le nord de la France, une bataille met aux prises catholiques et réformés (protestants) français. Le prince protestant Henri de Navarre, qui vient d'hériter de la couronne de France, sous le nom d'Henri IV, doit lutter contre la Ligue catholique qui rejette son autorité. Avec l'appui des Anglais, il bat les armées du duc de Mayenne près de Dieppe. Sa victoire quelque peu inespérée le rapproche du trône et met presque un terme aux guerres de religion qui durent depuis déjà depuis près de trente ans. The interest of the place centers in the castle dominating the town, which was built in the 11th century by William of Talou; his nephew, William the Conqueror, regarding it as a menace to his own power, besieged and occupied it. After frequently changing hands, it came into the possession of the English, who were expelled in 1449 after an occupation of thirty years. In 1589, its cannon decided the battle of Arques in favor of Henry IV. Arques of the battle fame is northwest of Beauvais. The area produced settlers for New France (Canada 1632). Ten times the number of Protestants left upon the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, bound for England, many thereafter coming to the British Colonies in North America.

Old fortification at Dieppe

Many departed from Dieppe, after the persecution returned in the 17th Century. But, as early as 1562, the area was supplying settlers for the New World. On April 30, 1562, off the Coast of Florida near what would become (under the Spanish) Saint Augustine, a French privateer and explorer first sighted it. A Huguenot of the city of Dieppe, Jean Ribault was a successful captain for Admiral Gaspar de Coligny's navy. Coligny selected him to establish a Huguenot colony in Florida. Actually, it was to be a French colony, populated by persons of the Protestant faith (Huguenots), to stand in opposition to the Spanish, as well as to prove the loyalty of the Huguenots to the greater French cause. Spain ruthlessly suppressed this effort, which had established settlement near Paris Island (SC) and today's Jacksonville.

Map showing Beauvais, Compiègne, Senlis, Soissons, Reims and Paris
Senlis is another town of Picardie in the Oise département. It has a Roman history, too.

Metz -- Belfort -- Troyes -- Colmar -- Mulhouse -- Poitiers -- le Saint-Suaire -- Lörrach -- Chartres-- Compiègne -- Soissons -- Mainz / Mayence -- Trier / Trèves -- Aachen / Aix-la-Chapelle -- Reims -- Senlis -- Boulogne-sur-Mer, Dunkerque, Calais & Lille -- Lens, Arras & Cambrai -- Amiens, Albert and Abbeville -- Saint-Quentin and Laon -- a Paris page

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

Reformation from a French-Protestant point of view

Avignon -- Narbonne -- Carcassonne -- Toulouse -- A look at Lanuguedoc's Fab Four -- Montpellier -- Nimes -- Arles -- Orange -- Castres & Castries

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