Lens & Arras (département Pas-de-Calais) -- Cambrai (Cambrésis-département Nord)  

Lens: Lens is a commune in northern France, in the Pas-de-Calais département. Lens belongs to the communauté d'agglomération of Lens-Liévin (Communaupole) which consists of 36 communes, with a total population of 250,000 inhabitants. Lens, along with Douai, forms the metropolitan area (in French: aire urbaine) of Douai-Lens, whose population at the 1999 census was 552,682.

Medieval times (Epoque médiévale): The name of Lens appears for the first time during the Merovingian period in the form of Lenna Cas which means "Fortress Springs." The town could have a more ancient history (Gallo-Roman times) to which no attestation exists. The first known fortifications of Lens (completely gone today) relate to the Norman invasion. The counts (comtés) controlling Lens were for the most part counts of Boulogne, too, of which Eustache II was the most noted. In 1057, he married Ide of Bouillon in lower Lorraine. In 1066, he commanded part of the army of William the Conqueror at Hastings. In 1071, Eustache took part in further conflict concerning the succession of Flanders. He died around 1095, but Ide survived by about 20 years (1113). A very pious man, his donations to found churches, convents, hospitals are innumerable. She died at the Monastery of La Capelle, near Calais, and was buried at Wast, near Boulogne. Ide was beatified and became the patroness of Lens. The three son of Eustache II and Ide Bouillon (Eustache, Godefroy and Baudouin), took part in the first Crusade in the front lines. Godfrey was a main leader. The expedition ended with the capture of Jerusalem on July 15, 1099. Godefroy de Bouillon became the first king of Jerusalem.

Lens was was linked to the stellar Comte d'Artois in feudal times. The province Artois (and Lens), which belonged to the Count of Flanders, was attached to the Crown of France in 1180. In the thirteenth century, King Louis VIII established the city charter as a commune. In the Middle Ages, Lens became a substantial town; rural fairs and markets were important. Boats from Lille unloaded on the shoreline of the river Deûle. Four water-powered mills operated on the river, another wind-powered moulin dominated the city walls. Lens sat astride an old merchant road leading from northern Flanders to Lille, Seclin, Pont-à-Vendin, Lens à Arras and the tollgate of Bapaume, heading for Paris. Lens had its own échevinage (a tax in France to maintain the offices of local officers) and militia. Its presbytery and jurisdiction were among the most important in Artois.

Lens had to suffer much during the Hundred Years War and later hostilities against Flanders. In 1303, the city was burned by the Flemish. In medieval times and in modern times, Lens was, in total, the subject of fifteen sieges -- especially harsh in 1478, then 6 times between 1493 and 1590 and 5 times between 1641 and 1648. Its fortifications were first dismantled after the siege of 1448. Its last set of fortifications was ordered dismantled by the government of Louis XIV (May 25, 1652) and the work completed in 1657.

In 1526, the suzerainty of Artois, which had remained under the power of the king of France, had passed to the king of Spain through the Hapsburg line. The Thirty Years War was particularly devastating (as one may surmise from the record of sieges in the 1640's). Competing armies, time and again, took over Lens. Sacked and ruined from French and Spanish forces, Lens attaches its name to the penultimate battle that saw the victory of the great Prince Condé (Louis II de Bourbon, 4th Prince de Condé) over the Spanish and Lorraine on August 20, 1648. This battle ended the Thirty Years War (Treaty of Münster) and gave the opportunity of Boileau write worms known: “Here, Grand Condé, in the celebrated battle where your arm shook the Rhine .... (C’est ici, Grand Condé, qu’en ce combat célèbre où ton bras fit trembler le Rhin, l’Escaut et l’Ebre ....).”

Interestingly, because of court intrigue and a time in gaol, Condé changed sides, being named commanding general for Spain in the low countries (1653). Five years later, the French and English under Cromwell were allied. They decisively defeated Condé in the Battle of the Dunes outside Dunkerque (June 14, 1658). Spanish negotiators, however, made Condé's amnesty a condition for the peace settlement of 1659 (The treaty of the Pyrénées assured the rule of Artois would remain in French hands). He returned to France and in 1667, le Grand Condé again was given command of an army of the French nation. In the summer of 1673 the young stadtholder William III was eager to use the Imperial, Spanish and Dutch armies against Condé. On Aug. 11, 1674, an all-day battle ensued near Seneffe south of Brussels, with heavy losses on both sides -- but no victor. After 1675 Condé lived at Chantilly. He reconverted to Catholicism the year before his death in 1686. http://www.bookrags.com/biography/conde-prince-de/ Then, in the eulogy of the Prince of Condé, Bossuet could recall; “Lens, nom agréable à la France.”

In the modern age, Lens has been in a major coal producing area, and the town has several prominent tipple piles surrounding the town proper. The town is in the midst of improving the area and beautifying the city centre. http://www.villedelens.fr/

Arras: Arras (Dutch: Atrecht) is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The historic center of the Artois region, its local speech is characterized as a Picard dialect (and the “s” is pronounced). Near the Scarpe and Crinchon rivers there are currently more than 44,000 who call themselves “Arrageois” and “Arrageoises.” http://www.arras-online.com/histoire_en.php

Arras was founded at the hill of Baudimont by the Celtic tribe of the Atrébates, who named it Nemetacum or "Nemetocenna." The Atrébates, which held the site at Arras as its capital, was one of the last Gallic populations to resist Julius Caesar. Their leader, King Comnius, fought beside Vercingetorix in 52BC. The Romans renamed the town Atrebatum, a garrison location. The townspeople were converted to Christianity in the late 4th century by Saint Diogenes, who was killed during a barbarian attack on the town (407 or 410). Around 130 years later, Bishop Vedastus (also known as Saint Vaast) established an episcopal see (and palace), reconstructing the town in the process. A monastic community developed during the Carolingian period into the immensely wealthy Benedictine Abbey of St. Vaast. Both the town and abbey suffered during the 9th century from the attacks of the Norman-vikings, who later got land to settle in Normandy. The abbey, revived in its power in the 11th century, played an important role in the development of medieval painting, successfully synthesizing the artistic styles of Carolingian, Ottonian and English art. Textiles and tapestries evolved as its mainstay in the 14th Century. The town became fortified in the 15th century; however, Arras served as a prize in the competition between Bourgogne and France. Destroyed in 1477 by Louis XI, he renamed the city Franchise at this time. In 1492, Arras fell into Spanish hands, and was plundered ... and so it goes.

On a Road near Arras 
Jean Baptiste CorotArras’ bell tower is a close cousin of the Flemish bell tower style. A watchtower serving to prevent possible enemy attack, and to warn of fires, it rises 75 meters above the Place des Héros. It was known for its incorporation of Gothic, Renaissance and Second Empire (Napoleon III) styles. It was constructed between 1463 and 1554, and enlarged twice: first in 1572 and again in 1658. It was destroyed in World War I.

During the First World War, Arras was near the front. A long series of battles fought nearby collectively are known as the Battle of Arras. A series of tunnels beneath the city, dating back several hundred years and unknown to the Germans, became a decisive factor in the British forces holding the city. The city, however, was heavily damaged and had to be rebuilt after the war. In the Second World War, during the invasion of France in March 1940, the town was the focus of a major British counter attack. The town was occupied by the Germans and 240 suspected French Resistance members were executed in the Arras citadel. The subterranean network was used as shelter during the 1944 bombings. Les Boves have been open to all visitors since 1982, with fascinating architectural surprises within.

Bishop and Saint Vedastus (St. Vaast) had been the teacher of the Merovingian King Clovis after the victory of Tolbiac. His successors, Dominicus and Vedulphus, are also both venerated as saints. After the death of the latter, the See of Arras was transferred to Cambrai, and it was not until 1093 that Arras again became a diocese again. Two famous relics long were greatly venerated at Arras. The “sacred manna” is said to have fallen from heaven in 371 during a severe famine. The “holy candle”, a wax taper, was given to Bishop Lambert in 1105 by the Notre Dame, that halted an epidemic. The most significant modern jurisdictional changes occurred during the Napoleonic era. From 1802 to 1841, the diocese was suffragan of the Archdiocese of Paris, shifted away from Cambrai, because Napoleon had cut-up the massive Archdiocese. After the defeat of Napoleon, the Napoleonic Concordat united the Dioceses of Arras, Saint-Omer and Boulogne. Unlike most of the other areas immediately restored to the Archdiocese of Cambrai, it was not until 1841 that this enlarged diocese returned as a suffragan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diocese_of_Arras

Cambrai: Cambrai (Dutch: Kamerijk; old spelling Cambray) is a commune and town in the Nord département, France, being also a sous-préfecture. Cambrai is the seat of an archdiocese that had an enormous jurisdiction during the Middle Ages. Little is known with certainty of the beginnings of Cambrai. Camaracum or "Camaraco" as it was known to the Romans appears from lists in the 4th Century. It was a town of the celtic Nervii, whose chief town was Bagacum, present-day Bavay. Frankish raids from the north led the Romans to build forts along the Cologne to Bavay to Cambrai road, and thence to Boulogne. Cambrai thus occupied an important strategic position. By the early 5th century the town had become the administrative center of the Nervii, replacing Bagacum. Christianity arrived in the region at about the same time. A bishop of the Nervii by the name of Superior is mentioned in the middle of the 4th century, but nothing else is known about him. Clovis brought the area under his control by force.

A civil war raged in the early 8th century; a period of peace followed; then more disagreements about control. In 870, the town was destroyed by the Normans. In 1339, in the early stages of the 100 Years War, English King Edward III laid siege to the city, but eventually had to withdraw. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, conquered Cambrai (1543) and annexed it to his already vast possessions. He demolished . Henry II burnt the medieval monastery of Saint-Sépulchre and adjoining Cathedral (1553). Louis XIV, in an effort to safeguard the tranquility of his borders for ever (assurer à jamais le repos de ses frontières), decided to take Cambrai. He supervised the siege in person. The city was taken on April 19, 1677. By the Treaty of Nijmegen of 1678, Spain relinquished Cambrai. It has remained to this day a part of France. Cambrai is one of 13 fortified towns in the region, whose old ramparts remain intact: Calais, Gravelines, Bergues, Saint-Omer, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Montreuil, Arras, Lille, Condé-sur-Escaut, Cambrai, Le Quesnoy, Maubeuge, Avesnes-sur-Helpe. More conflicts took place, including those of the Great War (the infamous tank battle (1917) and another exchange in the final month of fighting) and World War II.

On the death of Saint Vedulphus (545-580), the episcopal residence transferred from Arras to Cambrai. Saint Gaugericus, in French Saint Géry (also known as Gorik, Gau; in Walloon, Djèri) (ca. 550—August 11, ca. 626) was the first bishop to live at Cambrai. Born to Roman parents, Gaudentius and Austadiola, at Eposium (Yvois), tradition states that Magneric, the Bishop of Trier, was so impressed with the piety of the Gaugericus that he had the young man ordained. Gaugericus filled the see of Cambrai-Arras around 585 at the consent of Childebert II. He was consecrated by Egidius (Ægidius), Bishop of Reims. Gaugericus devoted himself to fighting paganism and built the church of St-Médard at Cambrai. He ransomed captives and visited rural districts. Gaugericus paid his respects to Clotaire II, the new lord of Cambrai after Childebert. He assisted at the Council of Paris (614). He was buried at St-Médard.

Originally begun in the 6th century, the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Cambrai at one time included Brussels and Antwerp as well as most of Northern France (today's Nord-Pas-de-Calais). Under the old regime the Archdiocese of Cambrai had forty-one abbeys, eighteen of which belonged to the Benedictines. Philip II of Spain, in order to facilitate the struggle against the Reformation, downsized the Cambrai diocese. Napoleon imposed further restrictions, making Cambrai subservient to Paris. Restored later, it regained some of its size, resisting a move to make Lille the principle archdiocese of the region. Once a massive Archdiocese, as of 2002, the Archdiocese is now suffragan to the Archdiocese of Lille, reversing the prior arrangement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archdiocese_of_Cambrai.

The community of nuns of the English Benedictine Congregation was founded at Cambrai (1623). They were expelled during the French Revolution, when the guillotine purified the town. The successor community has, since 1838, been established at Stanbrook Abbey, near Malvern. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Grâce de Cambrai, contains a venerated picture ascribed to Saint Luke and is one of several traditional pilgrimages in the area. The icon is carried annually in a procession through the streets of Cambrai on the day before the Feast of the Assumption (August 15). Its story and a picture is found HERE about 3/4's the way down the page. Cambrai is a Tour de France 2010 host site, a startpoint (Stage 4 (Wednesday July 7th)).

The textile cambric, also known as batiste in much of the world, was first used in Cambrai, France as early as 1595 (possibly named after Baptiste Chambray of Cambrai who invented the product). It was a closely woven, firm cotton fabric with a slight glossy surface produced by calendering. Today, cambric also serves as a coating for professional playing cards. L'église évangélique baptiste de Cambrai celebrates its 50th anniversary in October 2008. La lecture du Nouveau Testament nous apprend que dans l'Église primitive les termes évêques, anciens et pasteurs étaient interchangeables: Voici quelques références bibliques se rapportant à la charge "d’ancien" dans les églises. [Acts 20:17 - Acts 15 - Heb. 13:17 & 1 Tim. 5:12-13 (The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy)]

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

Celtic/Frank History -- Germaniæ Historicæ -- Anglo Saxons et.al.

Reformation from a French-Protestant point of view

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