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Compiègne (Municipality, Oise, France)

Last modified: 2019-01-14 by ivan sache
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Flag of Compiègne - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 23 August 2002

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Presentation of Compiègne

The municipality of Compiègne (40,028 inhabitants in 2012; 5,310 ha), located on river Oise.

In 843, the Carolingian Empire was shared 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 Aachen. He also founded a Royal abbey to keep the relics of St. Cornelius. The abbey was later superseded by St. Denis, near Paris, the Royal necropolis.
In 1374, King Charles V the Wise (1364-1380) fortified the town 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 hired the famous architects Jacques V Gabriel (1667-1742) and his son Jacques-AngeI Gabriel (1698-1782) to rebuild the castle from scratch. Started in 1751, the building work wasstopped 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 had 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 damaged 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 Armistice Clearing, 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 Armistice Clearing.

Ivan Sache, 23 August 2002

Flag of Compiègne

The flag of Compiègne, as communicated by the municipal administration, is vertically divided blue-yellow with a dark blue lion wearing a gold crown and a white half fleur-de-lis.

Pascal Vagnat, 23 August 2002