Compiègne in Picardie (Oise département), France   

The Compiègne forest (Forêt de Compiègne) has superb old oak and beech trees. If people know anything about this French village (ville imperiale), they will remember that in the Compiègne Forest the French signed two armistices; the 1918 Armistice with Germany {November 11th} and the Nazi Armistice with France (1940). Hitler chose the location, and had the original signing place (a train car (carriage)) moved from Paris to Compiègne, as an ironic prop for the defeated French. The site still houses several memorials to the 1918 armistice, including a copy of the original railway carriage (the original, after 1940 was moved to Berlin, and subsequently, an Allied air raid destroyed it). The city is located along the Oise River, thirty-eight kilometres west of Soissons, and sixty kilometers North of Paris (by the A1 freeway), somewhat nearer the airport, Charles de Gaulle. Its inhabitants are called Compiègnois.

Few know that in 665, Saint Wilfrid was consecrated in Compiègne as Bishop of York. Of course, the first battle in the Frankish civil war was at Compiègne, fought on September 26, 715. It became the first definite battle of the civil war that followed the death of Pepin of Heristal, Duke of the Franks, on December 16, 714. Battles at Cologne, Amblève (near Liège), Vincy (near Cambrai) and Soissons would follow in the next three years as a three-way conflict develops. Charles Martel would emerge, setting up the conditions for the first Holy Roman Empire. In February 888, a Count of Anjou, Odo of Paris was crowned and King of the Franks (888 - 898) in Compiègne. In 1636 Richelieu raised a new army of 50,000 men and took siege of Compiègne. The Spanish retreated to the Netherlands.

On May 23, 1430 (during the Hundred Years' War), the Burgundians captured Sainte Joan of Arc, while the King of France was attempting to free Compiègne from the English. Facing the Hôtel de Ville with its striking gothic façade and ornate statuary, is a statue of Joan of Arc. The Burgundians later sold Sainte Jeanne to the English for 10,000 gold coins (instead of 40 pieces of argent). She would be held by the English for about a year. After a fair trial, the English executed the maid. She died by fire in the marketplace within the gray walls of Rouen, Normandy (May 30, 1431). Her execution was to serve as a lesson for others who would challenge English claims to lands in France; but, she already had reversed the momentum of her enemy's victories during the Hundred Years War. Moreover, Sainte Jeanne d'Arc, by her hideous death transformed what really was a barbaric clash of avaricious feuding clans into a holy war for national liberation from English tyranny. Perhaps there is a lesson for us today in this sad tale of youth ended so early, since her image transcends time. France eventually expelled English troops, except at Port de Calais. Map of 100 years war:; Timeline (en français):; Battle described at:

The massive Château de Compiègne represents the final state of a series of royal residences stretching back to Clovis. What was originally a simple wooden Merovingian villa, perfect as a hunting lodge, had become by the 5th and 6th centuries a compendium palatium or a residence fit for a king. Compiègne like Versailles and Fontainebleau, had the privilege of being the seat of government, while a royal personage was dwelling therein. Some images may be found at:

The revolutionary government first guillotined sufferers of faith at the Place du Trône Renversé (now called Place de la Nation), in Paris on July 17, 1794. The Holy See has reviewed and solemnly beatified these martyrs of the French Revolution (27 May, 1906). Before their execution they knelt and chanted the Veni Creator, as at a regular profession, after which they all renewed aloud their baptismal and religious vows. They are the Sixteen Blessed Teresian Martyrs of Compiègne. Within the church, the influence of the Martyrs of Compiègne has been profound. Indeed by a strange twist of faith, the 16 martyrs affected the Roman Church in England, at a time in which that profession was outlawed.

The twentieth century has seen the death of more martyrs for the Christian faith than all preceding centuries combined. In the final scene of Poulenc's opera, the Martyrs of Compiègne file serenely to their deaths, as if they were processing from choir to the refectory, singing the Salve Regina to the horrifying cadence of the guillotine's fall. One by one, their voices cease, until the last voice, that of Blanche, is silenced abruptly by the crash of the blade. It becomes a stunning moment. One feels suddenly the profound absence of these prayerful {messengers}.

A long, white, bunker-like wall stretches along the avenue des Martyrs de la Liberté in Compiègne, 50 miles north of Paris. Behind the wall, a sober and elegant space houses a little bookshop from which you can make out, through the big glass windows, one of buildings of what was Royallieu transit camp during World War II.

Senlis is another town of Picardie in the Oise département. It has a Roman history, along with Soissons and Beauvais.

Map showing Soissons, Compiègne, Senlis and Paris
Ancient Paris -- Paris Environs -- Here, too -- Bercy

Metz -- le Saint-Suaire -- Mainz / Mayence -- Trier / Trèves -- Aachen / Aix-la-Chapelle -- Reims -- Boulogne-sur-Mer, Dunkerque, Calais & Lille -- Lens, Arras & Cambrai -- Amiens, Albert and Abbeville -- Saint-Quentin and Laon -- More HERE

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

Reformation from a French-Protestant point of view

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