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Compiègne (Municipality, Oise, France)

Last modified: 2010-07-03 by ivan sache
Keywords: oise | compiegne | lion (blue) | fleur-de-lys: half (white) |
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[Flag of Compiegne] image by Arnaud Leroy

Source: Pascal Vagnat & Mairie de Compiègne

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Presentation of the municipality

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 The abbey was later superseded by St. Denis, near Paris, the Royal necropole.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

Description of the flag

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