History

If the abbey past of the city is the largest chapter in its history, many other episodes have left their mark on the town.

Porte d'entrée de l'abbaye de Marchiennes Porte d'entrée de l'abbaye de Marchiennes  © Office de Tourisme de MarchiennesThe history of Marchiennes is closely linked to the history of its Benedictine abbey built during the 7th century.

The abbey was founded in 630 by Adalbaud, comte de Douai. Upon his death, his wife Rictrude, an Aquitaine aristocrat, retired in the monastery. There, she created a women's monastery which coexisted until 1024 with the men's Benedictine abbey
But few people know that the town and its monastery were victims of numerous invasions of Normans at the end of the 1st millennium.
Flemish since 863, the abbey depends on the county of Flanders until the 13th century during which it is passed on to the Kingdom of France. In 1349, the Black Plague reached Marchiennes and killed more than a third of the population.
Afterwards the town passes under the trusteeship of Dukes of Burgundy at the end of the 14th century, before belonging to the House of Austria for two centuries.
The Renaissance was marked in Marchiennes by the passage of the abbot Jacques Coëne who restored the abbey. Under the reign of Louis XIV, the town belongs to  Holland for 2 years. It then becomes French again after being besieged in 1712 and the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) definitively seals its belonging to France. During the siege, the abbey suffers numerous damages. It is largely rebuilt in the 18th century by the abbot François Hay.

2 years after the French revolution, the abbey is dismantled and the monks take refuge in Cysoing.

Clocher de l'église Sainte-Rictrude Clocher de l'église Sainte-Rictrude  © Office de Tourisme de MarchiennesLocated on place Charles de Gaulle, the parish church, in the neo-classic style, was built in 1811.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, Marchiennes recovers and industries bloom : woodmill, sugar refinery, wireworks...

A coal mine, named "Fosse Sainte Barbe", also opened at that time. It was made famous by the writer Emile Zola, who cited it forty-eight times in his novel Germinal.

Both World Wars damaged the town, from which it would have difficulties recovering.


Other than the history of its abbey, Marchiennes counted illustrious characters such as the Corbineau brothers. The most well known is Jean-Baptiste-Juvénal, who finished his career as a General in Napoleon’s Army, thanks to his discovering the ford on the Berezina River. Also, Felix Labisse, great surrealist painter, whose works are for some reproduced in the museum of local history, was born in Marchiennes in 1905.

It is interesting to underline that concerning sports, MarchiennesLe Géant Pelotin Le Géant Pelotin  © Ville de Marchiennes enjoyed its heyday just before World War II by winning several national titles in the "Jeu de Paume". "Pelotin" the giant, become the emblem of the town, was created in 2010 to honor this glorious past, as do teams of all ages who still practice this sport and contribue to perpetuate this great tradition.

 

In addition, numerous associations of all kinds, for all ages, be them sports-oriented or not, contribute to the dynamism of the town by offering variousevents all year long. Among others, "L'Europe à pétanque", "Les Cucurbitades", the "Semi-marathon", the celebration of the 1st of May, military commemorations, and other animations like those proposed in the context of "La nuit des musées" or of "Les journées du patrimoine", second-hand fairs, guided tours, ATB tours, youth animations, can be cited.

Today, Marchiennes, with its 4700 inhabitants, extends over more than 2000 hectares, among which a domanial forest occupies 800 hectares. The town is part of the "Parc naturel régional Scarpe-Escaut" and of the "Communité de communes Coeur d’Ostrevent".

Marchiennes is today resolutely focused towards the future and, sure of its potential, willing to develop its touristic and cultural offer.

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