Valenciennes (/ˌvælɒ̃ˈsjɛn/, also UK: /ˌvælənsiˈɛn/, US: /-nz, vəˌlɛnsiˈɛn(z)/, French: [valɑ̃sjɛn] (listen); Dutch: Valencijn; Picard: Valincyinne; Latin: Valentianae) is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.
It lies on the Scheldt (French: Escaut) river. Although the city and region experienced a steady population decline between 1975 and 1990, it has since rebounded. The 1999 census recorded that the population of the commune of Valenciennes was 41,278, and that of the metropolitan area was 399,677.
The town hall
Coat of arms
Location of Valenciennes
|Intercommunality||Communauté d'agglomération Valenciennes Métropole|
|• Mayor (2014–2020)||Laurent Degallaix (UDI)|
|13.82 km2 (5.34 sq mi)|
|• Density||3,200/km2 (8,300/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||17–56 m (56–184 ft) |
(avg. 42 m or 138 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
Valenciennes is first mentioned in 693 in a legal document written by Clovis II (Valentiana). In the 843 Treaty of Verdun, it was made a neutral city between Neustria and the Austrasia. Later in the 9th century the region was overrun by the Normans, and in 881 the town passed to them. In 923 it passed to the Duchy of Lower Lotharingia dependent on the Holy Roman Empire. Once the Empire of the Franks was established, the city began to develop, though the archaeological record has still not revealed all it has to reveal about this period. Under the Ottonian emperors, Valenciennes became the centre of marches on the border of the Empire.
In 1008, a terrible famine brought the Plague. According to the local tradition, the Virgin Mary held a cordon around the city which, miraculously, has since protected its people from the disease. Since then, every year at that time, the Valenciennois used to walk around the 14 kilometres (9 miles) road round the town, in what is called the tour of the Holy Cordon. Many Counts succeeded, first as Margraves of Valenciennes and from 1070 as counts of Hainaut.
In 1259 Valenciennes was the site of a General Chapter of the Dominican Order at which Thomas Aquinas together with masters Bonushomo Britto, Florentius, Albert, and Peter took part in establishing a ratio studiorum or program of studies for the Dominican Order that featured the study of philosophy as an innovation for those not sufficiently trained to study theology. This innovation initiated the tradition of Dominican scholastic philosophy put into practice, for example, in 1265 at the Order's studium provinciale at the convent of Santa Sabina in Rome, out of which would develop the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum.
In 1285, the currency of Hainaut was replaced by the currency of France: the French écu. Valenciennes was full of activity, with numerous corporations, and outside its walls a large number of convents developed, like that of the Dominicans (whose church was excavated by the Valenciennes Archaeological Service in 1989 and 1990).
In the 14th century, the Tower of Dodenne was built by Albert of Bavaria, where even today, the bell is rung in honour of Our Lady of the Holy Cordon. In the 15th century, the County of Hainault, of which Valenciennes is part, was re-attached to Burgundy, losing its autonomy. Valenciennes in this period, however, had several famous sons – the chronicler Georges Chastellain, the poet Jean Molinet, the miniaturist Simon Marmion, the sculptor Pierre du Préau and the goldsmith Jérôme de Moyenneville).
In 1524, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, arrived at Valenciennes, and – even when Henry II of France allied with him against the Protestants in 1552 – Valenciennes became (c. 1560) an early center of Calvinism and in 1562 was location of the first act of resistance against persecution of Protestants in the Spanish Netherlands. On the "Journée des Mals Brûlés" (Bad Burnings Day) in 1562, a mob freed some Protestants condemned to die at the stake. In the wave of iconoclastic attacks called the Beeldenstorm that swept the Habsburg Netherlands in the summer of 1566, the city was the furthest south to see such an attack on 24 August 1566. It was also one of the first to feel the hand of repression after the siege and fall of the city on 23 March 1567. One of the victims of that repression was Guido de Bres, the author of the Belgic Confession. Following the "révolte des gueux's victory at Brielle, the army of Louis of Nassau, one of the major commanders of the Dutch rebel forces and supported by the Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny, invaded the Spanish Netherlands with an army composed of German, English, Scottish and French soldiers, and took Valenciennes on 21 May 1572. However, Louis went on to Mons, and the Protestant garrison left behind offered only a feeble defence to the Duke of Alba, at the head of the bulk of the Spanish army, who recaptured Valenciennes in early June 1572, depriving Louis' French allies, of one of their main bases.
In 1576, when for a time the Southern Netherlands joined the revolt, the Spanish forces massed at the porte d'Anzin (in a fortress known as "La Redoute") were besieged by Valenciennes. However, in 1580, Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma took Valenciennes and Protestantism was eradicated there. Hereafter, Valenciennes remained under Spanish protection, no longer directly involved in later fighting of the Eighty Years' War. With its manufacturers of wool and fine linens, the city was able to become economically independent.
In 1591, the Jesuits built a school and then the foundations of a church of Sainte-Croix. In 1611, the façade of the town hall was completely rebuilt in magnificent Renaissance style. In the seventeenth century the Scheldt was channelled between Cambrai and Valenciennes, benefitting Valenciennes' wool, fabric and fine arts. To use up flax yarn, women began to make the famous Valenciennes lace.
The French army laid siege to the city in 1656 (Vauban participated in this siege without a command). Defending the city, Albert de Merode, marquis de Trélon was injured during a sortie on horseback, died as a result of his injuries and was buried in the Church of St. Paul (his tomb was found during the archaeological campaign in 1990). The Spanish victory in the Battle of Valenciennes (16 July 1656) lifted the French siege.
In 1677, the armies of Louis XIV of France (this time led by Vauban) captured the city and in 1678 the Treaty of Nijmegen gave the French control of Valenciennes (1678) and the surrounding southern part of Hainault, roughly cutting the former county in half. The city became one of the main strongholds of northern France, and was fortified by Vauban, who personally visited the town for that purpose shortly after the Treaty.
During the Enlightenment era, the economic situation of Valenciennes was in decline until the discovery of coal. The first pit was dug in Fresnes in 1718 and the discovery of burnable coal in 1734 at the porte d'Anzin led to the formation of the Compagnie des mines d'Anzin. In the eighteenth century, the city was equally renowned for its porcelain – indeed, it was the porcelain furnaces' demand for coal that led to the mining enterprises. Despite their quality of production, the company failed to be sustainable. Valenciennes, rich in artistic talent, became known as the Athens of the North (i.e. North of France), underlining its artistic influence.
The city was besieged by the First Coalition against Revolutionary France in 1793. Following a protracted Siege of Valenciennes the city was captured and occupied in July by Anglo-Austrian forces under the Duke of York and the Prince of Saxe-Coburg, and only retaken by the French Revolutionary armies in August 1794. In July 1795, one year after the execution of Robespierre put an end to the Reign of Terror, the Republicans of Valenciennes tortured, and guillotined five Ursuline nuns; by some accounts, the nuns were raped before being executed. After the Napoleonic era, Valenciennes gave itself up to the Bourbons in 1815 for 5 years. After that, the town's sugar-refining and coal industries once more started to expand.
In 1824 Valenciennes became a sous-préfecture. In the 19th century, thanks to coal, Valenciennes became a great industrial centre and the capital of Northern France's steel industry.
On 6 August 1890, a law downgraded the town's fortified status, and so from 1891 to 1893, its fortifications were demolished. The town was granted the Légion d'honneur in 1900.
During World War I the German army occupied the town in 1914. They were finally driven out by British forces at the Battle of Valenciennes in 1918, 'in which seven British divisions attacked eleven German divisions'. One dramatic first-hand experience of this battle is provided by A. S. Bullock who fought at a section of the front near Maresches..
A significant personality of this period was Louise de Bettignies (born in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux), a pupil of the Ursulines in Valenciennes from 1890 to 1896. Fluent in four languages (including German), in 1915 she created and directed the main British intelligence network behind enemy lines, nearly 60 km (37 mi) from the front around Lille. Arrested at the end of September 1915, and imprisoned in Germany, she died of mistreatment in September 1918 two months before the Armistice. It is estimated that she saved the lives of nearly a thousand British soldiers by the remarkably precise information she obtained. For example, it enabled the British to conduct the first aerial bombing of a train (that of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who came to visit the front at Lille), though both aircraft were not equipped with suitable viewfinders and so the raid narrowly missed its target. The German High Command, based in Brussels, then put all its efforts into neutralising the accursed network that allowed the British to see everything and know everything about this part of the front. Louise's arrest was associated with the escape of Szeck Alexandre, a young Austrian radio operator who got out of Brussels in August 1915, allowing the British to get their hands on the secret German diplomatic code. This code was exploited by Secret Service Room 40 ("Room 40"), under the supervision of Sir Reginald Hall, and in January 1917 allowed the decipherment of the famous Zimmermann Telegram, which triggered the United States' entry into the war in April 1917.
Valenciennes was retaken after bitter fighting in 1918, by British and Canadian troops (one of whose soldiers, a recipient of the Victoria Cross Sergeant Hugh Cairns, was honoured in 1936 when the city named an avenue after him).
On May 10, 1940, the town's inhabitants fled by road and it was abandoned to looters from the French army. A huge fire devoured the heart of the town, fuelled in particular by a fuel depot. German troops then occupied the ruined city on May 27. On September 2, 1944, after bloody fighting, American troops entered Valenciennes and liberated the city.
The town's first antenna was set up in Lille in 1964, then the Centre universitaire was set up in 1970, becoming independent in 1979 as the University of Valenciennes and Hainaut-Cambrésis.
The Hindenburg Line ran through Valenciennes during World War I, leading to extensive destruction. Valenciennes was again almost completely destroyed during World War II, and has since been rebuilt in concrete.
A few surviving monuments are: 1) The façade of the town hall, which managed to survive the bombardments of the war; 2) Notre-Dame du Saint-Cordon, to which there is an annual pilgrimage; 3) La Maison Espagnole, the remains of the Spanish occupation, which ended in 1678. The building is now used as the town's tourist information office; 4) The Dodenne Tower, the remaining part of the medieval fortifications after Charles V ordered them reduced; 5) Théâtre le Phenix, a theatre and performing arts venue constructed in 1998; 6) The "Beffroi", a large, pin-like monument 45 metres (148 feet) in height, built in 2007 on the site of the former belfry.
Valenciennes is historically renowned for its lace. Until the 1970s, the main industries were steel and textiles. Since their decline, reconversion attempts focus mainly on automobile production. In 2001, Toyota built its Western European assembly line for the Toyota Yaris in Valenciennes. Because of this and other changes, the average unemployment in the region is now lower than the national average.
On 15 July 2004 the Administrative Board of the European Union's Railway Agency held its first meeting in Phénix, with representatives of the 25 Member States and François Lamoureux, those days Director General for Energy and Transportation at the European Commission. Valenciennes was picked as the European Railway Agency headquarters in December 2003. International conferences are held in Lille.
Line No. 1 of the Tramway de Valenciennes was put into service on 3 July 2006. 9.5 km (5.9 mi) long, this tramway crosses the five communes in the Valenciennois Metropolitan area, at a cost of 242.75 million Euros.
The Gare de Valenciennes railway station offers connections with Lille, Paris and several regional destinations.
Valenciennes is a subprefecture of the Nord département.
Louis Cattiaux (1904-1953), philosoph, painter and poet, was born in Valenciennes.
Valenciennes FC is based in the city.
Valenciennes is twinned with:
The Eighty Years War (1568-1648)was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
Duffy-1was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
The 1951 Coupe de France Final was a football match held at Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir, Colombes on May 6, 1951, that saw RC Strasbourg defeat US Valenciennes-Anzin 3–0 thanks to goals by René Bihel, Raymond Krug and André Nagy.Achille Valenciennes
Achille Valenciennes (9 August 1794 – 13 April 1865) was a French zoologist.Valenciennes was born in Paris, and studied under Georges Cuvier. Valenciennes' study of parasitic worms in humans made an important contribution to the study of parasitology. Valenciennes also carried out diverse systematic classifications, linking fossil and current species.
He worked with Cuvier on the 22-volume "Histoire Naturelle des Poissons" (Natural History of Fish) (1828–1848), carrying on alone after Cuvier died in 1832. In 1832, he succeeded Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville (1777–1850) as chair of Histoire naturelle des mollusques, des vers et des zoophytes at the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle.
Early in his career, he was give the task of classifying animals described by Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) during his travels in the American tropics (1799 to 1803), and a lasting friendship was established between the two men. He is the binomial authority for many species of fish, such as the bartail jawfish.
Working in the scientific field of herpetology, Valenciennes described two new species of reptiles.The organ of Valenciennes, a part of the anatomy of a female of the genus Nautilus, the purpose of which remains unknown, is named after him.
A species of lizard, Anolis valencienni, is named after him.Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes
Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes (French pronunciation: [olnwa le valɑ̃sjɛn] (listen)) is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.Battle of Valenciennes (1656)
The Battle of Valenciennes (16 July 1656) was fought between the Spanish troops commanded by Don Juan José de Austria against the French troops under Marshal Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, in the outskirts of the town in the Spanish Netherlands, during the Franco-Spanish War. It was the worst of only a few defeats that the French Marshal Vicomte de Turenne suffered in his long career campaigning and is regarded as Spain's last great victory of the 17th century.Carlos Sánchez (Colombian footballer)
Carlos Alberto Sánchez Moreno (born 6 February 1986) is a Colombian professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for English Club West Ham United. He is nicknamed La Roca (The Rock), due to his strength on the pitch.He began his career at River Plate Montevideo before moving to Valenciennes in 2007, where he made 178 Ligue 1 appearances and scored ten goals across six seasons. He later played in La Liga for Elche and Espanyol, the Premier League for Aston Villa and Serie A for Fiorentina.
A full international since 2007, Sánchez has earned over 80 caps for Colombia. He was part of the squads that reached the quarter-finals of the 2011 Copa América, 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2015 Copa América, and finished third in the 2016 Copa América Centenario.Djamel Belmadi
Djamel Belmadi (Arabic: جمال بلماضي; born 25 March 1976) is an Algerian football coach and former player who is the manager of the Algerian national team.Lebo Mothiba
Lebogang Mothiba (born 28 January 1996) is a South African professional footballer who plays as a striker for Ligue 1 side Strasbourg and the South African national team.
He made his professional debut in 2017 for Ligue 2 side Valenciennes, whilst on loan from Lille, before returning to his parent club the following year. There, he scored six goals in 17 appearances before transferring to fellow Ligue 1 side Strasbourg in August 2018 with whom he won the Coupe de la Ligue in his debut season.
Having previously represented South Africa at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Mothiba broke into the senior side in 2018 after which he became the first player to score in three consecutive matches for the nation from debut.Ligue 2
Ligue 2 (French pronunciation: [liɡ dø], League 2), also known as Domino's Ligue 2 due to sponsorship by Domino's Pizza, is a French professional football league. The league serves as the second division of French football and is one of two divisions making up the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), the other being Ligue 1, the country's top football division. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with both Ligue 1 and the third division Championnat National. Seasons run from August to May, with teams playing 38 games each totalling 380 games in the season. Most games are played on Fridays and Mondays, with a few games played during weekday and weekend evenings. Play is regularly suspended the last weekend before Christmas for two weeks before returning in the second week of January.
Ligue 2 was founded a year after the creation of the first division in 1933 under the name Division 2 and has served as the second division of French football ever since. The name lasted until 2002 before switching to its current name. Since the league is a part of the LFP, it allows clubs who are on the brink of professionalism to become so. However, if a club suffers relegation to the Championnat National, its professional status can be revoked temporarily until they return to Ligue 2.Ligue Féminine de Basketball
The Ligue Féminine de Basketball (LFB; Women's Basketball League) is the top women's French professional basketball league.Nord's 19th constituency
Nord's nineteenth constituency is a French legislative constituency in the Nord département (in the far North of France). It is one of twenty-one in that département, and covers three cantons in whole or in part : Bouchain, Denain and Valenciennes-Sud (minus Valenciennes itself).Nord's 21st constituency
The 21st constituency of the Nord is a French legislative constituency in the Nord département.Philippe Montanier
Philippe Montanier (born 15 November 1964) is French former footballer and manager. Montanier is one of a growing number of managers to have played as a goalkeeper in their earlier career; others include Leonid Slutsky, Walter Zenga and Julen Lopetegui. He is currently the head coach of Lens.Polytechnic University of Hauts-de-France
The Polytechnic University of Hauts-de-France (Université Polytechnique des Hauts-de-France), previously known as University of Valenciennes and Hainaut-Cambrésis (Université de Valenciennes et du Hainaut-Cambrésis) until 1 January 2018, is a French public university, based in Valenciennes. It is under the Academy of Lille and is a member of the European Doctoral College Lille-Nord-Pas de Calais and of the Community of Universities and Institutions (COMUE) Lille Nord de France. On a national scale, in terms of graduate's employability, the university ranks from 1st (legal training/economics/management) to 68th (social sciences/psychology/sociology) out of 69 universities. In the field of legal training, economics and management, 99% of the university's graduates are employed. Overall, the University is ranked 28th out of 73 universities in France.Robert Domergue
Robert Domergue (November 21, 1921–January 22, 2014) was French football (soccer) player and manager. He played for his hometown club Cannes.He most notably coached Alès, Valenciennes, France (as assistant coach), Marseille, ES Tunis, Monaco, Strasbourg, Cannes and Dunkerque.Saliou Ciss
Saliou Ciss (born 15 September 1989) is a Senegalese footballer who plays as a left back for Valenciennes, on loan from Angers. He represented Senegal at the 2012 Summer Olympics.Stade du Hainaut
Stade du Hainaut is a multi-use stadium in Valenciennes, France. It is used mostly for football matches and hosts the home matches of Valenciennes FC. It has replaced the Stade Nungesser as VAFC's home stadium. The stadium has a capacity of 25,000 spectators for football matches, but its capacity can be extended to 35,000 for concerts. The stadium is one of the venues for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. It hosted 4 group games, a Round of 16 match, and a quarter-final match.
The stadium was constructed at a total cost of 75 million euros. It contains 2,600 club seats and 16 luxury boxes. It has two giant video screens, each 48 square meters in size. Its roof contains 1,800 tons of steel.Valenciennes FC
Valenciennes Football Club (French pronunciation: [valɑ̃sjɛn] (listen); commonly known as Valenciennes or USVA) is a French association football club based in Valenciennes. The club was founded in 1913 and currently play in Ligue 2, the second tier of French football. Valenciennes plays its home matches at the recently built Stade du Hainaut located within the city.Valenciennes was founded under the name Union Sportive de Valenciennes Anzin (USVA). The club spent over 80 years playing under the name before switching to its current name. Valenciennes has spent an equal amount of time playing in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 having played 40 seasons in the first division and 36 seasons in the second division. The club has never won the first division, but has won Ligue 2 on two occasions. Valenciennes has also won the Championnat National and the Championnat de France amateur in 2005 and 1998, respectively. In 1951, the club made its first and only appearance in a Coupe de France final.
From 2004–2011, Valenciennes was presided over by Francis Decourrière, a former politician who served as a Member of the European Parliament under the Social Democratic Party from 1994–1999 and later the Union pour la Démocratie Française (Union for French Democracy) from 1999–2004. In 2011, Decourrière left the position and was replaced by Jean-Raymond Legrand.Valenciennes lace
Valenciennes lace is a type of bobbin lace which originated in Valenciennes, in the Nord département of France, and flourished from about 1705 to 1780. Later production moved to Belgium in and around Ypres. The industry continued onto the 19th century on a diminished scale. By the 19th century valenciennes lace could be made by machine.Valenciennes lace is made on a lace pillow in one piece, with the réseau (the net-like ground) being made at the same time as the toilé (the pattern). It differentiates itself from other types of lace because the openness of the réseau, the closeness and evenness of the toilé, which resembles cambric, and that it lacks any cordonnet (a loosely spun silk cord used to outline and define the pattern). Also, in real Flemish Valenciennes lace there are no twisted sides to the mesh; all are closely plaited, and as a rule the shape of the mesh is diamond but without the openings.The réseau ground is made of four threads braided together, with eight threads at the crosses, which makes it very strong and firm. This is simpler and easier to make than the ground for Mechlin lace, though similar in appearance.Valenciennes lace received an impetus in the seventeenth century, when the Scheldt was channelled for river navigation between Cambrai and Valenciennes, benefiting the export of Valenciennes' wool, fabric and fine arts. To use up flax yarn, women began to make the famous Valenciennes lace. Early Valenciennes lace was grounded with fancy mesh which was thicker and closer than the open réseau used later. The more open version was developed in Valenciennes, and thus the type of lace became known under the name of the town. The open mesh started to evolve in the 18th century and by the 19th century the characteristic ground made of four braided threads was in use. By the 1900s little of the famous lace was still made in Valenciennes.Vincent Aboubakar
Vincent Paté Aboubakar (born 22 January 1992) is a Cameroonian footballer who plays as a striker for Porto and the Cameroonian national team.
He began his career at Coton Sport and moved to Europe in 2010, playing for Ligue 1 clubs Valenciennes and Lorient, totalling 109 appearances and 26 goals in France's top division. In 2014, he signed for Porto. He won the Turkish Süper Lig while on loan at Beşiktaş in 2016–17.
Aboubakar has earned over 60 caps for Cameroon since his international debut in May 2010. He was part of their squads for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, as well as the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 and 2017. He scored the winning goal in the final of the latter.