From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wiki Commons

Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Abbeville (Abbegem in Flemish) is a city in the Picardie région, in the North of France.



Abbeville is located on the Somme River, 12 miles (20 km) from its modern mouth in the English Channel, and 28 miles (45 km) northwest of Amiens. In the medieval period, it was the lowest crossing point on the Somme and it was nearby that Edward III's army crossed shortly before the Battle of Crécy in 1346.


Abbeville was the chief town of the former province of Ponthieu. Today, it is one of the three sous-préfectures of the Somme département.

It is twinned with the town of Burgess Hill in West Sussex.


The name Abbeville has been adopted to name a category of early stone tools. These stone tools are also known as handaxes. Various handaxes were found near Abbeville by Jacques Boucher de Perthes during the 1830's and he was the first to describe the stones in detail, pointing out in the first publication of its kind, that the stones were chipped deliberately by early man, so as to form a tool. These earliest stone tools found in Europe were chipped on both sides so as to form a sharp edge, are now known as Abbevillian handaxes or bifaces. The earlier form of stone tools, not found in Europe is known as Oldewan choppers. A more refined and later version of handaxe production was also found in the Abbeville/Somme River district. The more refined handaxe became known as the Acheulean industry, named after Saint Acheul, today a suburb of Amiens.


Abbeville first appears in history during the 9th century. At that time belonging to the abbey of St Riquier, it was afterwards governed by the Counts of Ponthieu. Together with that county, it came into the possession of the Alençon and other French families, and afterwards into that of the House of Castile, from whom by marriage it fell in 1272 to King Edward I of England. French and English were its masters by turns till 1435 when, by the treaty of Arras, it was ceded to the Duke of Burgundy. In 1477 it was annexed by King Louis XI of France, and was held by two illegitimate branches of the royal family in the 16th and 17th centuries, being in 1696 reunited to the crown. In 1514, the town saw the marriage of Louis XII of France to Mary Tudor, the daughter of Henry VII of England.

Abbeville was fairly important in the 18th century, when the Van Robais Royal Manufacture (one of the first major factories in France) brought great prosperity (but some class controversy) to the town. Voltaire, among others, wrote about it. He also wrote about a major incident of intolerance in which a young impoverished lord, the Chevalier de la Barre, was executed there for impiety (supposedly because he did not salute a procession for Corpus Christi, though the story is far more complex than that and revolves around a mutilated cross.)

Historical population:

1901: 18,519
1906: 18,971
1990: 24,588


The city was very picturesque until the early days of the Second World War, when it was bombed mostly to rubble in one night by the Germans. The town overall is now mostly modern and rebuilt. Several of the town's attractions remain, including:

  • St. Vulfran's church, erected in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The original design was not completed. The nave has only two bays and the choir is insignificant. The facade is a magnificent specimen of the flamboyant Gothic style, flanked by two Gothic towers.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Abbeville" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools