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A Brief History On Soissons, France

SOISSONS, city, Aisne departement, Picardie region, northern France, situated on the Aisne River in a rich agricultural valley surrounded by wooded hills. Although the city was severely damaged during World War I, and to a lesser extent in World War II, most of the old buildings for which it is famous have been restored.

Soissons derives it name from the Suessiones, a Gaulish tribe that made the town its capital in the 3rd century. A garrison town under the Romans, it was evangelized and became a bishopric in the 3rd century. Clovis the Frankish king, seized the town in AD 486; and it became the capital of his  descendants, the kings Neustria (the west part of the Frankish kingdom). The last king of the Merovingian dynasty, Childeric III, was deposed there
in 752; and Pepin the Short, his successor, was crowned in Saint-Medard abbey. Battles fought around Soissons in the 10th century led ultimately to  the accession of Hugh Capet to the French crown (987). Under theCapetian dynasty (ruled 987-1328), the town was held by the hereditary counts of  Soissons. It suffered in the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) and also in the Wars of the Religion in the later 16th century. During most of World War I it was just behind the Franco- British lines and was heavily bombarded before being captured by the Germans in May 1918. It was recaptured in August of the same year.

The facade of the 12th and 13th century Gothic cathedral of Saint-Gervais-et- Saint-Protais was modified in the 18th century stained-glass window. The abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (founded 11th century) was one of the richest in medieval France. The great abbatial church was largely destroyed under Napoleon I, but the magnificent facade (13th-14th century) was spared. Its two unequal towers are mounted by stone spires (the higher is more than 230 ft), can be seen from those dominating the city. Other parts of the towers still standing include remains of two chambers and a 13th century refectory. The remaining buildings of Saint-Leger abbey and its 13th century church house a museum with crucifications of paintings and sculptures. The building includes vestiges from Saint-Medard (founded c. 560), one of the most important medieval French abbeys; only a 9th century crypt remains. Soissons is a market town for produce from the surrounding area. Its industries include iron and copper foundries and plants manufacturing mechanical equipment, glass and rubber goods. Population (1982), 29,871.

"The New Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 10, 15th Edition, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago 1985, p.938."

Courtesy: Coutu, David R. "COUTU - COTTU DE LA VALTRIE GENEALOGY" WH Wolf Associates, Alpharetta, GA., 1993

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