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Cambrai coat of arms
Cambrai (France)
region Hauts-de-France
Department North
Arrondissement Cambrai
Canton Cambrai
Community association Cambrai
Coordinates 50 ° 11 '  N , 3 ° 14'  E Coordinates: 50 ° 11 '  N , 3 ° 14'  E
height 41-101 m
surface 18.12 km 2
Residents 32,558 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 1,797 inhabitants / km 2
Post Code 59400
INSEE code

Cambrai ( Dutch Kamerijk , pikardisch Kimbré , German  outdated Kamerich , Latin Cameracus ) is a commune with 32,558 inhabitants (at January 1, 2017) in the department of Nord in the region of Hauts-de-France . The city is the seat of the sub-prefecture ( sous-préfecture ) of the Arrondissement Cambrai , which is made up of 116 parishes. It is the main town ( chef-lieu ) of the canton of Cambrai .

The city on the Upper Scheldt ( Escaut in French ) is a center of the textile industry, the area around the city is used for agriculture. Cambrai was known for the manufacture of the fabric Kambrik , a fine cotton fabric that was first produced there.

Location of the city of Cambrai in the north department


Cambrai (painting)


Little is known about Cambrai's origins. In Gallo-Roman times, the place belonged to the province of Gallia Belgica . It was first mentioned in the 4th century in the Tabula Peutingeriana under the name Camaraco , in the Itinerarium Antonini as Camaracum and in the Notitia Galliarum as civitas Camaracensium . At that time Cambrai was at the crossroads of several Roman roads, in particular the one leading from Cologne via Bavay to Boulogne, and around 400 it became the main town of the Nervier , which Bavay had previously served. In the 4th century Christianity had also found its way into this region.

Around 445, the Salfranken conquered Cambrai under Chlodio , which now became the capital of a Franconian kingdom. At the end of the 5th century Ragnachar ruled here , whom Clovis I defeated and had him killed. Then Cambrai fell into the hands of Clovis, who created a unified Merovingian Franconian Empire.

middle Ages

Merovingian and Carolingian rule

When the empire was partitioned after Clovis's death (511), Cambrai, which developed from a market town into a real town during the Merovingian era, came into the possession of Chlothar I. Later, Chilperic I found refuge from his brothers in Cambrai as a very permanent place . Cambrai became the seat of a diocese ; the first bishop to reside here was probably Gaugerich ( Saint-Géry ) attested from around 584 to 626/627 . In 680 the caretaker Ebroin seized the city, but Pippin the Middle conquered it.

During the reign of the Carolingians , Cambrai came to Emperor Lothar after the death of Louis the Pious in 843 through the Treaty of Verdun . In 870 it fell to the West Franconian King Charles the Bald through the Treaty of Meerssen . The city, conquered and burned by the Normans in 880, became part of the Duchy of Lorraine in eastern France in the same year . Although the bishop Dodilo, who was in office in the years 887-901, had the city surrounded with a wall after the Norman attack , it was sacked by the Hungarians in 954 .

Counts of Cambrai

Tour des Arquets on the Scheldt

Cambrai was definitely part of the Holy Roman Empire from 926 (until 1677) and was on the border with France. The city and its area ( Cambrésis ) had become a county at the end of the 9th century , as the first count Isaak († before 948) is mentioned. He constantly fought with Bishop Fulbert about the power of rule over Cambrai. Otto I the Great gave the bishop the power of the count over the city in 948.

With Arnulf II († 1012) the Counts of Cambrai died out, and even during his lifetime, King Henry II had transferred the entire county (belonging to the Holy Roman Empire) to the Bishops of Cambrai on October 22, 1007, who thus exercised secular and spiritual rule and were German imperial princes. While the castellans of Cambrai were initially under the direct control of the bishop, the Lords of Oisy , when they took over this office in the 11th century , made themselves more independent and created their own position of power.

Citizens' surveys against the bishops

Since the 10th century, the inhabitants of Cambrai rose up against their bishops several times. For example, the unpopular Bishop Berengar found the city gates locked after his return from a trip to the imperial court in 958, but the rebellious citizens were severely punished for this. In 1024 and 1064 the townspeople rose again, but were defeated by imperial armies or vassals of the bishop. During the uprising of 1077, the bishop had to flee his city and temporarily grant the citizens a municipal administration. When at the end of the 11th century two applicants, Walter and Manasse , quarreled for the office of bishop, the citizens took advantage of this and received municipal rights from one of the two bishop's candidates in 1102, which were abolished in 1107. Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa granted this to the inhabitants of Cambrai in a de facto charter in 1182 and he reconciled them with their bishop.

The clashes started again as early as 1201. Bishop Jean de Béthune managed to get King Otto IV to revoke the privileges granted by Barbarossa, but was driven from his seat. As a result, excommunication and imperial ban were imposed on the citizens of the city in 1209 and they again had to submit completely to episcopal power. King Frederick II reasserted the citizens' old privileges in 1214, but after Jeans de Béthune intervened, reversed them the following year. The bishop obtained further imperial decisions against the stubborn inhabitants of Cambrai. In 1223 their aldermen had to go to the churches of Reims , Noyon , Laon , Tournai and Beauvais , walk barefooted in a procession, confess their guilt and have themselves publicly scourged. In 1227 the citizens finally had to renounce their municipal rights, but a law passed by Bishop Godfroi granted them some freedom in the management of urban affairs, so the situation calmed down. There were now 14 lay judges , led by two Prévots; the bishop appointed all members of the parish administration.

When the bishops of Cambrai demanded higher taxes due to indebtedness, there was renewed rebellion by the townspeople in 1302 and 1313. The citizens looted the bishop's palace on March 11, 1313 and slaughtered the official and several officials of the bishop. A moderate arbitration award by Ferry de Picquigny reconciled the parties to the dispute.

Cambrai double wedding

The double wedding of Cambrai took place on April 12, 1385 , when the children of the dukes Albrecht of Straubing-Holland and Philip the Bold of Burgundy were married; the celebration took place for eight days with 20,000 guests.

Economy and culture

In Cambrai's economy, textile processing dominated, especially cloth and canvas manufacture; besides there was extensive grain trade. Due to its peripheral location, the city never had more than 10,000 inhabitants in the Middle Ages; and the area of ​​the urban area increased only slightly in this epoch since the 11th century. The construction of the Notre-Dame Cathedral , which was called la merveille des Pays-Bas (“Wonder of the Netherlands ”), began in 1150 and was not completed until 1472. The cathedral was famous for its music, just as Cambrai was a musical-liturgical center in general.

Late Middle Ages

Tour du Bailli de Marcoing

The castellan office of Cambrai was after the extinction of the Lords of Oisy with Hugo III. Passed into the hands of the lords of Montmirail through Hugo's sister Hildiarde in 1189 . In 1337 the castellany was given to the French King Philip VI. sold.

For the Bishop of Cambrai, maintaining his independence from his more powerful neighbors, the Counts of Flanders and Hainaut and the French king, was difficult, especially during the Hundred Years War . In the early stages of this war, the English King Edward III besieged . 1339 the city, but finally had to leave without having achieved anything. In the 15th century the county was completely enclosed by Burgundian territories. In addition, it was then in a financial crisis, which allowed the Burgundian dukes, who act as patrons of the Church of Cambrai, strict control of the city and its diocese. John of Burgundy († 1479), an illegitimate son of John Fearless , became Bishop of Cambrai in 1440. But with the death of Charles the Bold (1477), the Burgundian dominance ended and Cambrai was occupied immediately by the French King Louis XI. was only one year long. Now the city was able to maintain its neutral position between Louis XI. and Maximilian I. still maintained.

Modern times

16th to 19th century

Due to its neutrality and border location between France and the Habsburg Empire , Cambrai, whose county was elevated to a duchy in 1510, was the scene of various international negotiations. So here in 1508 King Ludwig XII. of France, Emperor Maximilian I, King Ferdinand the Catholic of Spain, King Henry VIII of England and Pope Julius II to form the so-called League of Cambrai , an alliance with the aim of conquering the Italian mainland possession of the Republic of Venice . With the signing of the Peace of Cambrai on August 5, 1529, the war between Francis I of France and Emperor Charles V ended. The latter put an end to Cambrai's limited independence in 1543 by incorporating it into his possessions. He also had a powerful citadel built here to protect the border of the Holy Roman Empire against France .

The French King Henry II besieged Cambrai in 1552 in vain. In 1559 the bishopric of Cambrai was raised to an archbishopric. During the revolt of the Netherlands against Philip II of Spain, Baudouin de Gavre seized the city. In 1581 the Duke of Anjou took possession of the city and made Jean de Montluc de Balagny its governor. The next year, Alessandro Farnese besieged Cambrai in vain. Henry IV of France confirmed Montluc in his position as governor in 1594. But this was very unpopular, so that the citizens handed over their city to the Spaniards only two years later.

After Cambrai was besieged unsuccessfully by the Count of Harcourt in 1649 and by Turenne in 1657 , it was finally taken from the Spaniards by the French King Louis XIV in 1677 and formally ceded to France in the Peace of Nijmegen . The first archbishop appointed by Louis XIV was François Fénelon . Emperor Charles VI. and the Spanish King Philip V opened a peace congress at Cambrai in 1721 , but this was settled on April 30, 1725.

During the French Revolution , the cathedral was destroyed in 1793, as well as 22 monastery and 10 parish churches. In 1804, the former Saint-Sépulcre abbey church was elevated to the new Notre-Dame de Grâce cathedral .

Cambrai was stormed by the English on June 25, 1815, the garrison withdrew to the citadel and capitulated the following day. Cambrai was also the first French city to host the returning Louis XVIII. 1815 received. Then Cambrai was the headquarters of Wellington and the English occupation army until 1818 .

First and Second World War

German machine gun emplacement near Cambrai, 1917
Cambrai 1918

In the first year of the First World War , 1914 , Cambrai was occupied by German troops . Cambrai was a strategically important railway junction and thus a key supply point for the German Siegfried position . For this reason Paul von Hindenburg also set up his headquarters in Cambrai. A field airfield was built north of the city in 1917 near Épinoy . From November 20 to December 6, 1917, the Battle of Cambrai took place here, known as the first major tank battle in history. German troops set the city on fire before withdrawing in 1918. The entire city center had to be rebuilt. Of the 2500 buildings in the city, 1500 were totally destroyed.

During World War II , Allied air strikes on the railroad network claimed numerous casualties, and of the city's 7,464 buildings, 3,329 were damaged and 803 destroyed.

Population development

With 32,558 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017), Cambrai is one of the medium-sized cities in the North department. The population was 15,427 in 1794. Throughout the 19th century, with the exception of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, the population rose steadily. The population decreased in the two world wars in the 20th century. After the Second World War, the entire region experienced an economic boom, and so the population increased from 26,129 in 1946 to 39,049 in 1975.

year 1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006 2017
Residents 32,897 37,532 39,049 35,272 33.092 33,738 32,594 32,558
Sources: Cassini and INSEE

Economy and Infrastructure

The economy includes the processing of food from the agricultural environment, services for the European triangle London- Paris- Benelux and textile processing for high demands.

Railway Station (2010)
Railway station (before 1918)

From Cambrai there are direct train connections to Lille, Douai, Valenciennes, Saint-Quentin and Reims.

Two European long-distance connections (motorways) intersect in the south-west of Cambrai:

Several national roads ( N 30 , N 43 , N 44 ) lead to Cambrai.

Cambrai lies on the Scheldt and is thus connected to further waterways. The Canal de Saint-Quentin , which connects the Scheldt with the Oise Valley, also begins here.

The Cambrai-Niergnies airfield is used for general aviation.

There are five city bus routes.


The football teams of the local Athlétic Club Cambrésien played a good role in France at times, between 1955 and 1975 for men and in the mid-1980s for women.

Town twinning

Cambrai is twinned with the following cities :

Houma, Louisiana , USA
Chateauguay , Canada
Kamp-Lintfort , Germany
Esztergom , Hungary
Gravesend , UK

Cambrai is in contact with the following cities for various reasons:

Pushkin , Russia (partnership with the Communauté d'agglomération de Cambrai)
Kantchari , Burkina Faso (partnership with the Communauté d'agglomération de Cambrai)
Hamburg , Germany (Youth work camps of the Hamburg Regional Association of the German War Graves Commission take place regularly in Cambrai)


Landmarks and monuments

Notre Dame Cathedral in Cambrai
Statue of Louis Blériot

Sights: The city has the Notre-Dame Cathedral and Saint-Géry Church, both from the 18th century, and a 19th century town hall.

The large memorial statue of Louis Blériot is located in the city park of Cambrai .

Common war cemetery: In the Route des Solesmes there is a war cemetery from the First World War, in which 10,685 German, 6 Romanian, 192 Russian and 502 British war dead are buried. The grave stelae of 26 graves remember the fallen of the Jewish faith with Hebrew characters.

War Cemetery of the Soldiers of the British Empire: Located on National Road 30 in Louverval, this war cemetery for 7,048 British soldiers from the Battle of Cambrai is located.

Civilian victims: In the city park of Cambrai there is a memorial for the Allied attack of November 20, 1917, which was led by the British 3rd Army. This includes a plaque commemorating the civilian casualties the battle claimed.

See also


  • Le Patrimoine des Communes du Nord. Flohic Editions, Volume 1, Paris 2001, ISBN 2-84234-119-8 , pp. 353-387.

Web links

Commons : Cambrai  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Cambrai  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Cambrai . In: La Grande Encyclopédie , Vol. 8, p. 1051 ( online ); Max Him : Camaracum . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume III, 1, Stuttgart 1897, Col. 1424 ..
  2. a b c d e R. Fossier: Cambrai . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages . Vol. 2, Col. 1407-1409 (1983); Cambrai . In: La Grande Encyclopédie , Vol. 8, p. 1052 ( online ).
  3. Paroisses de Cambrai: L'Abbatiale du St-Sépulcre. Retrieved November 29, 2012 (French).