town france contains
VALENCIENNES, a town of France and a first-class fortress, in the department of Nord, is 157 miles north-north-east of Paris on the railway to Brussels, at the point where the river Rhonelle joins the Scheldt. The latter here divides into two branches, one of which flows through the town, while the other, canalized, fills the trenches of the citadel and skirts the fortifications. Valenciennes is the centre of a rich coal-field, which has called into existence numerous foundries, forges, rolling-mills, wire-works, and machine shops. There is also an extensive beetroot cultivation, with attendant sugar-works and distilleries. Cambrics and lawns are manufactured and calico-printing is carried on, though little of the famous lace is now made. There are a court of first instance, a chamber of commerce, a conseil de prud'hommes, a chamber of agriculture, and a sugar exchange. The town-ball, rebuilt after the old plan in 1867-68, and surmounted by a square campanile, contains examples of the three Watteaus, Van Dyck, Velazquez, Rubens (the Stoning of St Stephen), as well as numerous productions of the native school of fine arts (founded in 1782). There are also collections of medals and seals and a fine specimen of old Valenciennes tapestry. The library, formed at the Revolution from the libraries of the religious houses of Valenciennes, St Amand, and the neighbourhood, contains 25,000 printed volumes and 980 MSS., the latter including valuable works in early Romance. Valenciennes also contains several interesting private collections, and has associations for the promotion of agriculture, science, art, music, &c. The church of Notre Dame du Cordon, of the 13th-century style, was consecrated in 1864. The church of St Gery has a graceful modern tower ; but only a few pillars remain of the old building of 1225. The crooked and ill-paved streets contain some houses of the 15th and 16th centuries. Statues of Watteau and Froissart adorn the town. Of the six gates three have some architectural pretensions. The population in 1881 was 23,291 (commune 27,607) and in 1886 22,919 (commune 27,575).
Valenciennes, so named because founded or restored by the emperor Valentinian 1., was a residence of Clovis, and it was hither that Charlemagne summoned his first assembly of states in 771. The Normans were repulsed from its fortifications in 881. Valenciennes by turns belonged to Hainault and was independent, till taken by Baldwin of Flanders in 1003. It espoused the cause of Jean d'Avesnes in 1353, and was unsuccessfully besieged by the Flemings. In the 16th century Valenciennes became the strong- hold of Protestantism in Hainault, but was conquered by the Spaniards, who committed all sorts of excesses. I» 1656 the Spaniards under Conde made a successful defence against the French under Turenne ; but in 1677 Louis XIV. took the town after an eight days' siege, and Vauban constructed the citadel. Valenciennes has since always belonged to France. In 1793, after forty-three days' bombardment, the garrison, reduced to 3000 men, surrendered to the allied forges numbering some 140,000 or 150,000 men, with 400 cannon. In 1815 it defended itself successfully. Among the natives of Valenciennes may be mentioned Isabella of Flainault, wife of Philip Augustus of France, Baldwin IX. of Flanders (emperor of Constantinople), Jeanne of Flanders, Henry VII. of Luxembnrg (emperor of Germany), Froissart, the painters Watteau (3), l'ater, and Abel de Pujol, the sculptors De Crauck, Durez, Saly, Carpemsx, and Lemaire, the soldiers Jacques de Lalaing and Charles de Lannoy (viceroy of Naples), and the navigator Lemaire.