Place:Cambrai, Nord, France


Alt namesCamaracumsource: GRI Photo Archive, Authority File (1998) p 339; Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1979)
Cambraysource: GRI Photo Archive, Authority File (1998)
Cameracumsource: Concise Description of Flanders [web site] (2002) accessed 22 Jan 2003; Webster's Geographical Dictionary (1984)
Kambryksource: GRI Photo Archive, Authority File (1998)
Kamerijksource: Wikipedia
Coordinates50.167°N 3.233°E
Located inNord, France
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Cambrai, formerly Cambray[1] and historically in English Camerick or Camericke, is a city in the Nord department and in the Hauts-de-France region of France on the Scheldt river, which is known locally as the Escaut river.

A sub-prefecture of the department, Cambrai is a town which had 32,501 inhabitants in 2018. It is in the heart of the urban unit of Cambrai with 46,772 inhabitants. Its functional area, a more extensive range, included 94,576 inhabitants in 2018. With Lille and the towns of the former Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin, it is also part of the which has more than 3.8 million inhabitants.

Towards the end of the Roman Empire, Cambrai replaced Bavay as the "capital" of the land of the Nervii. At the beginning of the Merovingian era, Cambrai became the seat of an immense archdiocese covering all the right bank of the Scheldt and the centre of a small ecclesiastical principality, roughly coinciding with the shire of Brabant, including the central part of the Low Countries. The bishopric had some limited secular power and depended on the Holy Roman Empire until annexation to France in 1678. Fénelon, nicknamed the "Swan of Cambrai", was the most renowned of the archbishops.

The fertile lands which surround it and the textile industry gave it prosperity in the Middle Ages, but in modern times it is less industrialised than its neighbours of Nord-Pas-de-Calais.

Cambrai was the Duke of Wellington's headquarters, for the British Army of Occupation, from 1815 to 1818. Occupied by the German army during World War I, Cambrai suffered partial destruction in the First Battle of Cambrai from British artillery attacks on the town, including the nearby Bourlon Wood. The fighting around Cambri, known as the Battle of Cambrai (20 November 1917 – 3 December 1917) is notable in that it is considered to be the first mass use of tanks in battle. A second Battle of Cambrai took place between 8 and 10 October 1918 as part of the Hundred Days Offensive. World War II was followed by reconstructions and a rapidly developing economy and population, abruptly reversed by the 1973 oil crisis.

Cambrai today is a lively city and, despite the past destruction, maintains a rich monumental heritage. Cambrai is affirmed as the urban centre of Cambrésis. Its economic life is strengthened by its position on the main local highway and river.


Music history

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia


Little is known with certainty of the beginnings of Cambrai. Camaracum or Camaraco, as it was known to the Romans, is mentioned for the first time on the Peutinger table in the middle of the 4th century. It became the main town of the Roman province of the Nervii, whose first Roman capital had been at Bagacum, present-day Bavay.

In the middle of the 4th-century, Frankish raids from the north threatened Bavay and 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. In the early 5th century the town had become the administrative centre of the Nervii in replacement of Bavay which was probably too exposed to the Franks' raids and perhaps too damaged.

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.

In 430 the Salian Franks under the command of Clodio the Long-Haired took the town. In 509 Clovis undertook to unify the Frankish kingdoms by getting rid of his relatives. One of them was Ragnachar, who ruled over a small kingdom from Cambrai.

Middle Ages

Cambrai began to grow from a rural market into a real city during the Merovingian times, a long period of peace when the bishoprics of Arras and Cambrai were first unified (probably owing to the small number of clerics left at the time) and were later transferred to Cambrai, an administrative centre for the region. Successive bishops, including Gaugericus (in French Géry), founded abbeys and churches to host relics, which contributed powerfully to giving Cambrai both the appearance and functions of a city.

When the Treaty of Verdun in 843 split Charlemagne's empire into three parts, the county of Cambrai fell into Lothaire's kingdom. However, upon the death of Lothair II, who had no heir, king Charles the Bald tried to gain control of his kingdom by having himself sacred at Metz. Cambrai thus reverted, but only briefly, to the Western Frankish Realm. In 870 the town was destroyed by the Normans.

By 925 Henry the Fowler had regained control of Lothair's former domains. Cambrai henceforth belonged to the Holy Roman Empire, in an uncomfortable position on the border with France, until it was annexed by France eight centuries later after being captured by Louis XIV in 1677.

In the Middle Ages the region around Cambrai, called Cambrésis, was a county. Rivalries between the count, who ruled the city and county, and the bishop, ceased when in 948 Otto I granted the bishop with temporal powers over the city. In 1007, Emperor Henry II extended the bishop's temporal power to the territory surrounding Cambrai. The bishops then had both spiritual and temporal powers. This made Cambrai and Cambrésis a church principality, much like Liège, an independent state which was part of the Holy Roman Empire. The spiritual power of the bishop was exercised over a vast diocese, which stretched on the right bank of the Scheldt to Mons, Brussels and Antwerp. In 953, the Magyars besieged Cambrai, which resisted all their attacks.

In 958 one of the first communal uprisings in Europe occurred in Cambrai. The inhabitants rebelled against Bishop Bérenger's power and abuses. The rebellion was severely repressed, but the discontent flared up again in the 10th and 11th centuries. Between 1077 and 1215, the burghers had a charter franchise on at least four occasions. Each time, these were eventually withdrawn by the combined efforts of the bishops and emperors. In 1227, following another period of unrest, the burghers of Cambrai finally had to give up their charters and accept the bishop's authority. However, the Loi Godefroid promulgated by the bishop, in fact or in law, left the people a number of freedoms won in the management of communal affairs.

Cambrai is also known for its Irish homily.

Economic activity

In the Middle Ages the city grew richer and larger thanks to its weaving industry which produced woollen cloth, linen and cambric. Cambrai, and in particular the drapery, experienced an economic decline from the 15th century.Cite error 3; Invalid call; invalid keys, e.g. too many or wrong key specified Cambrai then belonged to a commercial hansa of seventeen low country cities whose aim was to develop trade with the fairs in Champagne and Paris. By the 11th century the city walls had reached the circumference they would keep until the 19th century.

Music history

Cambrai has a distinguished musical history, particularly in the 15th century. The cathedral there, a musical center until the 17th century, had one of the most active musical establishments in the Low Countries; many composers of the Burgundian School either grew up and learned their craft there, or returned to teach. In 1428 Philippe de Luxembourg claimed that the cathedral was the finest in all of Christianity, for the fineness of its singing, its light, and the sweetness of its bells. Guillaume Dufay, the most famous European musician of the 15th century, studied at the cathedral from 1409 to 1412 under Nicolas Malin and Richard Loqueville, and returned in 1439 after spending many years in Italy. Cambrai cathedral had other famous composers in the later 15th century: Johannes Tinctoris and Ockeghem went to Cambrai to study with Dufay. Other composers included Nicolas Grenon, Alexander Agricola, and Jacob Obrecht. In the 16th century, Philippe de Monte, Johannes Lupi, and Jacobus de Kerle all worked there.

Hundred Years' War

Even though the bishop tried to preserve the independence of his small state of Cambrésis, the task was not easy, wedged as the county was between its more powerful neighbours the counts of Flanders, of Hainaut and the kings of France, especially during the Hundred Years' War. In 1339, in the early stages of the war, the English king Edward III laid siege to the city but eventually had to withdraw. By the 14th century the county was surrounded on all parts by Burgundy's possessions and John of Burgundy, an illegitimate son of John the Fearless, was made bishop. However, what looked like an impending annexation of Cambrésis to the states of Burgundy was made impossible by the sudden death of Charles the Bold in 1477. Louis XI immediately seized the opportunity to take control of Cambrai, but left the city a year later.

The legend of Martin and Martine

Martin and Martine are two legendary characters who have come to represent the city which they are said to have saved. There are different versions of the story. The most commonly accepted version runs as follows: around the year 1370, at the time of Bishop Robert, Count of Geneva, Martin, a blacksmith of Moorish descent established in Cambrai, was among the burghers who left the city to fight the lord of Thun-Lévêque, who was then reputed to ransom the population around the city and generally to afflict the region. Martin, armed only with his heavy iron hammer, soon came face to face with the enemy. He dealt such a heavy blow on his opponent's head that, although the helmet of the lord did not break, because it was made of good steel, it was driven down to his eyes. Dazed and blinded, the lord of Thun quickly surrendered. Today the automatons of Martin and Martine, standing at the top of the town hall, strike the hours with a hammer as a reminder of that mighty blow.

Early Modern era

As the economic centre of northern Europe moved away from Bruges, the area became poorer, with an associated period of cultural decline. However the city's neutrality and its position between the possessions of the Habsburg Empire and France made it the venue of several international negotiations, including the League of Cambrai, an alliance engineered in 1508 by Pope Julius II against the Republic of Venice, concluding in the . The alliance collapsed in 1510 when the Pope allied with Venice against his former ally France. The conflict is also referred to as the War of the League of Cambrai and lasted from 1508 to 1516. Cambrai was also the site of negotiations in 1529, concluding in the Paix des Dames, which led to France's withdrawal from the War of the League of Cognac.

In 1543 Cambrai was conquered by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and annexed to his already vast possessions. He had the medieval monastery of Saint-Sépulchre demolished and a citadel built in its place.

In 1595, the city was taken by the Spanish in the eighth and last French Wars of Religion.

In December 1623, the community of nuns of the English Benedictine Congregation was founded at Cambrai. Expelled in 1793 as a result of the French Revolution, its successor community in 1838 was Stanbrook Abbey, near Malvern and later Wass in Yorkshire.

In 1630, Richelieu, wishing to counter the power of the Emperor and Spain, renewed the alliance of France with the United Provinces. The main effort of France had to focus on the Spanish Netherlands, and a sharing plan was established with the Dutch, with France to receive the Hainaut, Cambrésis, Artois, a large part of Flanders and Luxembourg and the County of Namur. War was declared against Spain in 1635: It was followed by a long series of wars which, compounded by subsistence and epidemics, caused crises which would bruise the Cambrésis.

Mazarin tried unsuccessfully, in 1649, to seize the city which was being besieged by Henri de Lorraine-Harcourt and the Vicomte de Turenne. A Spanish regiment, which came from Bouchain succeeded in entering the city and the siege was lifted. In 1657, the Vicomte de Turenne captured Cambrai. Again 4,000 horsemen under the command of Condé, in the service of the Spain, manage to penetrate, and Turenne abandoned the city.

In 1666, in the greatest secrecy, Louis XIV prepared new conquests by making plans of the Spanish fortifications, and then began the War of Devolution. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle from 1668 allowed the Kingdom of France to obtain a large number of strongholds, but Cambrai was not a part of them, nor were Bouchain, Valenciennes or Condé-sur-l'Escaut.

The annexation by France

In 1672, hostilities resumed against the Protestant Republic of the Netherlands and continued in the following years. In 1676, Louis XIV, in an effort to "safeguard the tranquility of his borders for ever" ("assurer à jamais le repos de ses frontières"), focused most of his efforts against Spain and occupied Condé and Bouchain. On 17 March 1677, the French troops stormed Valenciennes and moved toward Cambrai, the strongest place of the Netherlands, which was reached on 20 March. On 22 March, Louis XIV was in the city in person. On 2 April, the French invested in a part of the place. By 5 April, the city surrendered, given the same benefits as Lille in 1667,Cite error 3; Invalid call; invalid keys, e.g. too many or wrong key specified but the Spanish garrison took refuge in the citadel and the siege continued until 17 April. After 29 days of siege the king made his entry into the city, on 19 April, Easter Monday. Louis XIV named the Marquis de Cesen as governor, and appointed 14 new aldermen while keeping the same provost.

By the Treaty of Nijmegen of 1678, Spain had relinquished Cambrai, which has remained as a part of France, to this day.

French influence would transform the architecture and urbanism of the city. The gables of the houses on the street were blocked and the city was embellished with mansions. The fortifications were reinforced with advanced works. The first archbishop appointed by the king of France was François Fénelon. He came to be known as the "Swan of Cambrai" ("le cygne de Cambrai"), in opposition to his friend and rival Bossuet, the "eagle of Meaux" ("l'aigle de Meaux"), and he wrote his Maxims of the Saints while residing in the city. He had a relentless zeal to enlighten the faithful and to convert the unfaithful.

The French Revolution

The city suffered from the Revolution: Joseph Le Bon, sent by the Comité de salut public, arrived in Cambrai in 1794. He was to set up an era of "terror", sending many to the guillotine, until he was tried and executed in 1795. One of his most famous victims was François III Maximilien de la Woestyne, 3rd Marquess of Becelaere.

Most of the religious buildings of the city were demolished in that period: in 1797, the old cathedral, which had been dubbed the "wonder of the low countries", was sold to a merchant on 6 June 1796 who left only the tower, after exploiting the cathedral as a stone quarry. The main tower was left standing until 1809, when it collapsed in a storm. However the cathedral's archives have been preserved (they are now at the Archives Départementales du Nord in Lille) and a new cathedral was later provided.

19th century

The Franco-Prussian War of 1870 widely spared Cambrai. It also showed the futility of the fortifications which the city obtained permission to demolish, at its expense, in 1892. The outer boulevards were constructed and off to the location of the walls, between 1894 and the beginning of the 20th century. The appearance of the city was radically transformed, and the works stimulated the city's economy.

20th century

In 1914, the German army occupied the city: This occupation, which lasted for four years, was marked by scenes of looting, requisitions and arrests of hostages. From 20 November to 17 December 1917, the vicinity of the town of Cambrai was the theatre of the Battle of Cambrai, which saw the massive use of tanks for the first time.

In 1918, the Germans burned the city centre before leaving, destroying the city hall and the municipal archives. In total, more than 1,500 buildings were totally destroyed, of the 3,500 which consisted of Cambrai. The centre was to be rebuilt, a task which was entrusted to the architect .

World War II also struck Cambrai. The city was bombed by the Luftwaffe on 17 May 1940, during the Battle of France, before falling the next day at the same time as Saint-Quentin. The remains of the 9th French Army and General Giraud were taken prisoner by the Germans.

From 27 April until 18 August 1944, 18 Allied air raids were directed against the railway tracks, killing 250 people and destroying 1,700 buildings, or more than 50% of the city. The first American tanks entered the city on 2 September.

After the war, the priority again was reconstruction. A municipality of the "union of the left" was elected in 1945, led by who would remain at the head of the city until 1981, promoting moderate Socialism. As early as 1947, the city submitted to a development project of the Ministry of Reconstruction. The municipality gave priority to the construction of houses: The Maison du Cambrésis [House of le Cambrésis], later Maison Familiale group, an HLM cooperative society, contributed substantially to the reconstruction of the city. The population of the city progressed, while the arrondissement tended to be depopulated. At the same time, the city lost industrial jobs and moved towards the tertiary sector, but it was public administrations which provided the bulk of jobs.

Personnes mentionnées dans les actes à cause de leur fonction locale

(Cette liste doit être établie uniquement à partir de sources que chacun peut facilement vérifier, comme les Archives Départementales en ligne, ou le dépôt dans la base WeRelate d'actes numérisés - par photo ou copie scannée.)


  • 1793 : Augustin Broutin, officier public
  • 1838 : Henri Joseph François Deloffre, chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur
  • 1856 : Jean François Petit-Courtin

Adjoints au maire

  • 1835 : Henri Joseph François Deloffre, premier adjoint
  • 1844 : Charles Joseph Dieudonné Savary, second adjoint


(paroisse Notre-Dame)

  • 1792 : Willaume, vicaire épiscopal

Instituteurs, maîtres ou recteurs d'école



  • 1856 : Philippe de la Brunière


  • 1835 : Henri Ducamp, percepteur de contributions directes

Patronymes courants


Les surnoms n'ont pas qu'une fonction descriptive ou ironique. Ils permettent d'identifier des individus portant le même prénom et le même patronyme.

External links

  • For more information, see the FR Wikipedia article Cambrai.

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