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Ponthieu is a former province in northern France. Its chief town is Abbeville. It lies centered on the mouth of the Somme River. It includes the townships of Crecy-en-Ponthieu, Nouvion-en-Ponthieu and Ailly-le-Haut-Bell.

History[change | change source]

Norman conquest of England[change | change source]

Ponthieu played a small role in the events that led up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Harold Godwinson of England was blown ashore at Ponthieu in 1064.[1] He was taken captive by the men of Guy I and held for ransom at the castle of Beaurain. Thinking Harold might be useful to him William II, Duke of Normandy, secured his release.[1] William escorted him to Rouen and gave him many gifts. william then had Harold take 'many oaths' to support his claim to the English throne and to become William's vassal.[2] But a year after Harold's return to England when king Edward the Confessor died, Harold quickly forgot his oaths and took the crown for himself.[2] That same year Harold was killed at Battle of Hastings and William became King of England.[3]

In 1067 the chaplain of Matilda of Flanders, Guy, Bishop of Amiens, composed Carmen de Hastingae Proelio, a Latin poem on the battle of Hastings.

In 1150 the Count of Ponthieu built a fortress for himself at Crotoy, a strategic point on the mouth of the river Somme.

The Hundred Years' War[change | change source]

During the Hundred Years' War, Ponthieu changed hands a number of times. The English claimed control of it from 1279–1369 and again until 1435. During English control of Ponthieu, Abbeville was used as the capital.

In late August 1346 Edward III of England reached the region of Ponthieu. While he was there rebuilt the fortress at Crotoy.[4] He forced a passage of the Somme at the ford of Blanchetaque. The army led by Philip VI of France caught up with him at nearby Crécy-en-Ponthieu, leading to the famous Battle of Crécy.[5]

In 1360, the Treaty of Bretigny between King John II of France and Edward III of England gave control of Ponthieu (along with Gascony and Calais) over to the English, in exchange for Edward relinquishing his claim to the French throne. Edward took the land but still refused to surrender his claim.

In April, 1369 Charles V of France conquered Ponthieu. A month later he declared war on England. As a result, Edward publicly reassumed the title 'King of France' in June.

In 1372 an English army under the leadership of Robert Knolles invaded Ponthieu. They burned the city of Le Crotoy before crossing the Somme at the ford of Blanchetaque.

In the Treaty of Arras (1435), Charles VII of France convinced Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, to break his alliance with the English. In exchange he gave him Ponthieu. This marked a turning point that led to the end of England's part in the conflict 40 years later.

In 1477 Ponthieu was reconquered by King Louis XI of France.

In World War I between 1 July and 18 November 1916 the Battle of the Somme was fought in Ponthieu. It was one of the most costly battles ever fought with over 1,000,000 men killed or wounded.

Notes[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 David Crouch, The Normans: The History of a Dynasty (London: Hambledon Continuum Press, 2007), p. 82
  2. 2.0 2.1 François Neveux, A Brief History of the Normans, trans. Howard Curtis (London: Constable & Robbinson, Ltd, 2008), p.131
  3. François Neveux, A Brief History of the Normans, trans. Howard Curtis (London: Constable & Robbinson, Ltd, 2008), p.138
  4. Andrew Ayton; Philip Preston, The Battle of Crécy, 1346 (Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2005), p. 104
  5. C. T. Allmand, The Hundred Years War: England and France at War C.1300-c.1450 (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988). p. 15