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Montreuil

 

Montreuil (sometimes called Montreuil-sur-Mer) is a French commune located in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Hauts-de-France region. Despite its small population (2,014 inhabitants at the last census in 2017) and its small area, Montreuil is a relatively large municipality since it occupies the status of sub-prefecture of the department (alongside large cities such as Calais, Boulogne and Lens) as well as that of the capital of a departmental arrondissement grouping together 164 municipalities, some of which are much more populated such as Berck and Étaples. It is the 5th least populated sub-prefecture in France and is one of the few sub-prefectures not to be part of the most populous cities of its department (Montreuil is the 145th city of Pas-de-Calais, which is a record).

Typical village with a rich history, mainly known for its fortifications and ramparts dating from the 13th and 16th centuries, it has become one of the main tourist places in the region and has received numerous labels.

 

Destinations

Civil architecture
Town Hall (18th - 19th centuries);
Roger-Rodière Art and History Museum;
Place Darnétal;
Place du Général-de-Gaulle is one of the largest squares in the North of France;
Cavée Saint-Firmin (classified landscaped site);
Rue du Clape-en-Bas (listed as a historical monument) where there are small typical 18th century houses now occupied by craftsmen and restorers;
Montreuil-sur-Mer train station;
Equestrian statue of Marshal Douglas Haig (listed as a historic monument), the work of sculptor Paul Landowski.

There are about forty private mansions built between 1730 and the end of the 19th century. Certain districts were privileged by the builders, to the point of being compared by Victor Hugo to a "small suburb of Saint-Germain".
Former hotel of the Marshal of Acary-de-la-Rivière (listed as a historical monument) on the Saint-Firmin square, number 1;
The so-called "Farmer" house or hotel of the Solare fountain, located at 98 rue Pierre-Ledent, on the edge of the Saint-Firmin square;
Hôtel Guéroult de Boisrobert, located at 6 parvis Saint-Firmin;
Hôtel de la fontaine d'Hémencourt, located at 119 parvis Saint-Firmin;
Hôtel de Jacquemin de Châteaurenault and de Rougeat, located at 101 parvis Saint-Firmin;
Hôtel d'Hurtrel d'Arboval located at numbers 84-46 of the Saint-Firmin square;
Hôtel Loysel le Gaucher (listed as a historical monument), located rue Victor-Dubourg;
Half-timbered house, known as the Pot-d'Étain, at 21-23 rue Pierre-Ledent (listed as historical monuments);
Medieval cellars (listed as historical monuments in 2012);
Houses backing onto the old ramparts.

Military heritage
Citadel of Montreuil-sur-Mer (classified as historical monuments, classified site, Natura 2000 Zone);
Ramparts, urban enclosures of 8 linear km of fortification, in the upper town (2,700 m of promenade) and lower town, bastions (classified as historical monuments);
Powder magazines;
Porte de Boulogne;
German undergrounds (listed as historical monuments) and blockhouses.

 

History

Montreuil is cited for the first time in 89810 in the Annales de Saint-Bertin and de Saint-Vaast.

The castle of Montreuil dates from the ninth century, it was then the main fortress in the region. Its construction is attributed to Helgaud, count of Boulogne but it seems rather to be Helgaud count of Montreuil. Then began the military career of the city which will see successive during six centuries of medieval wars many constructions.

The city owes its name to a "small monastery" (monasterolium). We know that some time later, after 913, the monks of Landévennec (Finistère) found refuge there after the destruction of their monastery by the Vikings and in 926 created the Saint-Walloy abbey in honor of Saint Walloy, a local deformation. named after Saint Guénolé. Subsequently, the dedication changes, and the establishment becomes the Abbey of Saint-Saulve.

Count Helgaud seemed to have already endowed it with an enclosure and a count's castle. Duke Guillaume Longue-Épée removed it from Count Arnoul de Flandres to return it to his lord, Herluin. Dudon de Saint-Quentin recounts: “The Duke said to his soldiers: come and bring me the planks of the palisade of the castle of Montreuil and take me prisoners to his defenders who resist us. And they stormed the castle in front of William and brought him the posts of the wall at the same time as the prisoners ”.

In 980, Montreuil was attached to the royal domain.

In 988, Hugues Capet made Montreuil the only seaport of the French monarchy, heir to the opulent and mysterious Quentovic port.

In 1091, Philippe I, king of France, tired of his wife Berthe of Holland, had her locked up in the castle of Montreuil, which was part of the dowry received by Berthe (she was the daughter-in-law of the count of Flanders Robert the Frisian). Berthe was repudiated in 1092, Philippe wishing to marry Bertrade de Montfort and died in Montreuil in 1093.

In 1188, Philippe Auguste granted a municipal charter.

At the beginning of the thirteenth century, Philippe Auguste, in order to protect this prominent maritime façade, built a powerful royal castle of which significant elements remain today.

On June 19, 1299, Montreuil-sur-Mer agreement between Philippe IV le Bel and Édouard Ier.

The many relics, so piously venerated in the Middle Ages and held by its many places of worship, attracted pilgrims and gave the city a character of holiness. At the time, the city had more than 10,000 inhabitants, which is far more than today: less than 3,000 in 1999.

The city then exported its sheets, the fame of which rivaled even in Italy those of Flanders or Artois (we said of Montreuil as we say today of tulle).

In 1435, Montreuil passed into the possessions of the Burgundians by the Treaty of Arras.

In 1467, a natural disaster caused the collapse of at least six religious buildings. It is not known today whether it is an earthquake or a collapse of underground layers.

At the end of the Middle Ages, the silting up of the Canche led to the decline of the city. Maritime trade collapsed, the city took refuge in itself.

Modern times
In June 1537, the troops of Charles Quint and Henry VIII lay siege at the foot of Montreuil. Forced to surrender, the city is largely destroyed.

The plague struck the city in 1596.

In 1567, Charles IX ordered the construction of a citadel on the site of the old castle of the thirteenth century. Around 1670, Vauban perfected the work of his predecessors by remodeling the citadel and adding a powder magazine and an arsenal.

In the eighteenth century, despite the silting up of the Canche and the decline of the port, the prosperity of the city enabled it to adorn itself with numerous mansions.

French Revolution and Empire
The right flank (seen from the English side, Montreuil being south of Boulogne) of the Boulogne camp was set up in Montreuil in 1803 and gave the city a bit of life. Marshals Soult and Ney have their headquarters there.

Contemporary period
In the 19th century, the quest for progress caused the destruction of part of the lower ramparts in order to allow the passage of the Arras-Étaples railway line, which was put into service on August 5, 1878.

Montreuil fell then for more than a century in a lethargy that was only to disturb, during the First World War, the presence within its walls of the great British headquarters under the command of Marshal Douglas Haig.

 

Montreuil is cited twice in the literature: Lawrence Sterne, who visited the city in 1765, recounted his visit in his novel Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Montreuil is also the scene of a large part of the first part of Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables. The main character of the novel, Jean Valjean, owns a large factory there which made the prosperity of the city of which he became the mayor. This factory and the long tradition of a black glass industry in Montreuil only exist in the imagination of Victor Hugo. Montreuil is the scene of most of the conflict between Valjean and Javert. It is also the hometown of Fantine, the mother of Cosette.