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Compiègne is a French commune located in the department of Oise, of which it is one of the sub-prefectures, in the Hauts-de-France region. The town is located north-east of Paris. It is often nicknamed “the Imperial City” because of its past closely linked to the Second Empire. It constitutes by its surface the first commune of the department, and by its demography the second. It is the third urban area of the department of Oise with a little less than 100,000 inhabitants.



The first traces of human habitation in the commune of Compiègne date back to the beginning of the 5th millennium BC and continue until the Roman conquest. In Gallo-Roman times, Compiègne was a crossing point on the Oise (Isara) connected to the network of secondary roads on the border of the territories of Bellovaques (Beauvais) and Suessions (Soissons). A ford was located at a place called Clos des Roses between Compiègne and Venette. In the Clos des Roses district, the remains of a Roman building were found, possibly a military guard post at the ford. In the current city center, the excavations carried out have not allowed the discovery of Gallo-Roman remains. In the surroundings, some vestiges of villae were brought to light.

The early Middle Ages
The suburb of Saint-Germain appears to be the first establishment in Compiègne. The city, on its present site, is relatively recent; it was created around the castle of the kings of France. Compiègne was associated with the crown of France from the advent of the Merovingians. The oldest document which mentions it is a diploma from Childebert I in 547. Clotaire I died there in 561 and the Merovingian and Carolingian kings often stayed there and held numerous pleas and councils. Ragenfred, mayor of the Palace under Dagobert III, defeated the Austrasians in 715 in the Cuise forest, near Compiègne16. Pépin le Bref in 757, received an embassy in Compiègne from the emperor Constantine V Copronyme, who made him a present for his oratory of the first organs known in France. He also received the oath of vassalage from Duke Tassilon III of Bavaria.

Charles II the Bald (823-877) King of Francia and Emperor of the West made it his usual stay. By the Treaty of Compiègne, on August 1, or August 25, 867, he granted Cotentin, Avranchin and the Channel Islands to Solomon, King of Brittany.
On January 2, 876, Charles the Bald ordered the construction of the Sainte-Marie collegiate church, the future Saint-Corneille abbey, on the model of that of Aix-la-Chapelle. On May 5, 877, he had it consecrated by Pope John VIII. The important Saint-Corneille abbey, rich in emblematic relics (Shroud, relics of the Passion, Veil of the Virgin) then becomes the nucleus around which the city begins to develop and the king builds a new palace there.

His son Louis le Bègue was consecrated in Compiègne on December 8, 877 in the Saint-Corneille abbey by Archbishop Hincmar of Reims and he died there in 879. In 884 in Compiègne, the great of the kingdom in the name of his brother Carloman signed a truce with the Vikings. Finally, Louis V the last Carolingian, who was consecrated in Compiègne on June 8, 979 and who died on May 21, 987, was buried in the Saint-Corneille abbey.

The Capetians
Hugues Capet having been elected King of the Franks in 987, Compiègne will remain one of the favorite stays of the first Capetians: it is in Saint-Corneille that Queen Constance d'Arles, wife of Robert le Pieux, had her eldest son Hugues associated with the throne. who will be buried in this basilica in 1025, before being able to reign alone.
It was Louis VI, before 1125, who granted the city its first municipal charter. The abbey, following the scandals caused by the canons, became a Benedictine abbey from 1150. The bourgeois of Compiègne who helped in the installation of the monks and the expulsion of the canons, obtain that their city is instituted in common by King Louis VII in 1153. A communal charter will also be given to the inhabitants of Royallieu by Queen Adelaide. Philippe Auguste confirms the communal rights of Compiègne in 1207 and throughout the thirteenth century the city will increase its property and its authority with the support of the king, who serves as arbiter between the monks of the abbey and the citizens of the commune.
In the middle of the thirteenth century, Saint Louis built the Grand Pont, repaired under Charles VIII and which will last until 1735. Saint Louis takes away from the monks the jurisdiction of the priory and the Saint-Nicolas-au-Pont hospital and will make it a Hôtel-Dieu. The king, helped by his son-in-law, King of Navarre, carried the first patient there on a silk sheet in 1259.

During the fourteenth century, the commune of Compiègne plagued by insurmountable financial difficulties, will have to give up its communal charter and the king will appoint a provost to administer the city and deliver justice, with the assistance of a mayor also appointed by the king and representatives of the bourgeoisie. The community elects every four years, several "governors-attournés" responsible for municipal management. In the event of war, the king appoints a captain, proposed by the community who is responsible for defense.