Last modified: 2003-05-31 by ivan sache
Keywords: oise | compiegne | lion (blue) | fleur-de-lys: half (white) |
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by Arnaud Leroy
Source: Pascal Vagnat & Mairie de Compiègne
Compiègne is a city of c. 45,000 inhabitants, located on the river Oise. It is now famous for its Technical University and its castle. Compiègne was visited by several important people of the French history, e.g. Joan of Arc, Louis XV, Napoléon III and Marshal Foch.
In 843, the Carolingian Empire was divided by the treaty of Verdun. Charles II the Bald (843-877) received the western part of the Empire (Francia occidentalis) and built in Compiègne a palace similar to Charlemagne's palace in Aix-la-Chapelle. He also founded a Royal abbey in which the relics of St. Corneille were kept. The abbey was later superseded by St. Denis, near Paris, the Royal necropole.
In 1374, King Charles V the Wise (1364-1380) fortified the city and built a fort. On 23 May 1430, Joan of Arc was captured near Compiègne by the Burgundians, who sold her to the English.
The castle of Compiègne was a rather rustic residence until
King Louis XV (1715-1774) refurbished it and organized there lavish
festivals. In 1738, the King decided to rebuild totally the castle
and hired the famous architects Jacques V Gabriel (1667-1742) and his
son Jacques-AngeI Gabriel (1698-1782). Building work started in 1751
but stopped during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). The work resumed
under Louis XVI (1774-1792) and the new Royal suite, later inhabited
by Napoléon I (1804-1814), was inaugurated in 1785. Additional
work was performed between 1789 and 1791, since Louis XVI planned to
retire in Compiègne.
Compiègne was the prefered residence of Napoléon III (1852-1870) and Eugénie de Montijo (1826-1920). The Imperial couple stayed in Compiègne during the hunting season and received by séries of 80 the most brilliant people in Europe. The writer Prosper Mérimée (1803-1870) composed in Compiègne his impossible dictation (known as la dictée de Mérimée).
Compiègne was severely hit during the Second World War. In the southern outskirt of Royallieu, the Germans established a marshalling yard for the concentration camps.
The Forest of Compiègne (14,500 ha) is located in the south
and west of Compiègne. In the clearing of Rethondes, now
called the Clearing of Armistice (clairière de
l'Armistice), Marshal Foch received in his private train on 8
November 1918 the German plenipotentiaries. On 11 November at 5:15
AM, the armistice was signed, which came into effect at 11:00 AM.
On 22 June 1940 in the evening, the armistice, synonym of French capitulation was signed in the same wagon replaced in the same clearing. The wagon was brought back to Berlin, when it was destroyed during a bombing in 1942. A replica is now placed in the Clearing of Armistice.
Ivan Sache, 23 August 2002
The flag of Compiègne is vertically divided blue-yellow with a dark blue lion wearing a gold crown and a white half fleur-de-lys.
Ivan Sache, 23 August 2002