Flanders is a former
province of France, situated in the northern part of the country just
south of the Belgian border and along the North Sea coast. LILLE was
its capital. For most of its history this region was part of the
state of Flanders, most of which was located in present-day Belgium
and the Netherlands. Flemish is still spoken in northwest Flanders.
From 1668 to 1697, LOUIS XIV gradually secured this prosperous area
for France. It remained a French province until the French Revolution
when it became (1789) the roughly coterminous department of Nord.
A former province in northern
France, Artois is roughly equivalent to the present department of
Pas-de-Calais (6,638 sq km/2,363 sq mi). ARRAS, the major town, was
its capital. Artois is bounded by Flanders on the northeast, by
Picardy on the south and southwest, and by the English Channel on the
northwest. It is a low-lying region with some hills in the south.
Coal mining and agriculture are the principal economic activities.
Originally part of Flanders,
Artois came under French control for the first time in 1180, through
the marriage of King Philip II to Isabel of Hainaut. Artois passed to
Burgundy in 1329. It became a possession of the Habsburgs in 1477 and
a province of Spain in 1493. It was reconquered by the French in
1640; French possession was confirmed by the treaties of the
Pyrénées (1659), Nijmegen (1678), and Utrecht (1713).
Because of its strategic importance, Artois was the scene of heavy
fighting during World War I.
Centre de Préhistoire du
The Center of Prehistory is an association which
seeks to promote knowledge about regional
prehistoric sites, dating from the Paleolithic era
down to the Bronze Age. The archaeological
discovery of primitive tools during a dig in 1996
near Hermies sheds new light on ancient
civilizations in northern Gaul.