Rocroi Aerial Photo



Location: Ardennes department   Map

Info: 14 pl d'Armes
Tel. 03 24 54 20 06


Description of Rocroi

Rocroi is a town located in the department of Ardennes 30km from Charleville-Mézières in France. The city is linked to a famous battle of 1643, seeing the victory of the French royal armies led by the Duke of Enghien (future Grand Condé), against the Spanish who were besieging the city. Others will remember the fortifications of the city that many believe designed by Vauban .

But Rocroi is much more than that. The first mention of the city dates back to the end of the 12 th century century, where Nicholas IV, lord of Rumigny, had a chapel built on what were only marshes swept by all the winds. The first houses were built in the wake. A few years later, Raul (or Raoul) 1st, inherited these lands, and built a stronghold to protect the place. From there to say that this character is at the origin of the name of the commune, there is only a step that some historians have crossed, without determining for sure what is the good version: for some, the The fact that the city is growing rapidly (Rault-Croit) could be a plausible explanation. For others, the fact that the town is at the crossroads leading to Liège and the Thiérache on one side, the Porcien and the Hainaut on the other, could be at the origin of the name (Rault-Croix).

Already at this time, the inhabitants have a ditch surrounding the city and a rampart of land, which does not prevent Rocroi, like all the border towns of the time, to pay a heavy price to the war.

François 1er, well aware that the danger can come mainly from these north-eastern borders, orders that we find the best place to build a fort. Since Charles V chose the city of Givet to build the Fort Charlemont, it will be at Rocroi that fortifications will be designed from 1552, under the reign of Henry II. It was at this time that Rocroi became "Rocroy" (the Roc du Roy), making believe that the town is named in honor of the King of France.

These fortifications will fulfill their role to perfection when in 1643, the Spanish besiege the city. The reign of young Louis XIV having just begun, the kingdom of France is in danger. This is without counting the genius of the Duke of Enghien, who, on May 19, will take on the back the Spanish cavalry and make them retreat, then launch his infantry against the enemy. Although the Spaniards are superior in number, they are beaten in a few hours.


The fortifications were improved by Vauban few years later, and boasts an arsenal in the late xvii th century.

During the revolution, Rocroi changed its name: thinking that the origin of the name of the city came from the belief created from scratch during the creation of the fortifications, the revolutionaries named the city "Roc-Libre". The fortifications were further improved during the xix th century, but following the improvement of artillery, they became obsolete and were decommissioned in 1889. They were, however, classified historic monument since 1935. Rocroi was sub-prefecture of the Ardennes until 1926.