1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Abbeville

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
For works with similar titles, see Abbeville.

ABBEVILLE, aa town of northern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Somme, on the Somme, 12 m. from its mouth in the English Channel, and 28 m. N,W. of Amiens on the Northern railway. Pop. (1901) 18,519; (1906) 18,971. It lies in a pleasant and fertile valley, and is built partly on an island and partly on both sides of the river, which is canalized from this point to the estuary. The streets are narrow, and the houses are mostly picturesque old structures, built of wood, with many quaint gables and dark archways. The most remarkable building is the church of St Vulfran, 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. Abbeville has several other old churches and an hotel-de-ville, with a belfry of the 13th century. Among the numerous old houses, that known as the Maison de Francois Ie, which is the most remarkable, dates from the 16th century. There is a statue of Admiral Courbet (d. 1885) in the chief square. The public institutions include tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a board of trade-arbitrators, and a communal college. Abbeville is an important industrial centre; in addition to its old-established manufacture of cloth, hemp-spinning, sugar-making, ship-building and locksmiths' work are carried on; there is active commerce in grain, but the port has little trade.

Abbeville, the chief town of the district of Ponthieu, 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 Alencon and other French families, and afterwards into that of the house of Castillo, from whom by marriage it fell in 1272 to Edward I., king 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 Louis XI., king 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.