CAMBRAI    Kammerich (Ger); Cambrésis (pays).

Français : Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Grâce de C...

Français : Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Grâce de Cambrai. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

City and district, now in northeastern France, southeast of Arras and southwest of Valenciennes.

In 843, when the Frankish Kingdom was partitioned, Cambrai, the seat of a Bishop from the late 6th century, was allocated to the Middle Kingdom of the Emperor Lothar.   The Scheldte (Escaut), which rises nearby, was the (approximate) border with the Kingdom of the West Franks.  Cambrai was briefly in that Kingdom, 869-80, and then became part of the Kingdom of the East Franks, and thus of Germany.

The Bishop was given the powers of a Count in the 10th century.   A long struggle between the Bishops and the city during the 11th and 12th centuries led eventually to the city enjoying a considerable independence, though the Bishops continued to dominate the outlying Cambrésis.   In 1510 the Bishop was raised to the rank of a Duke.   As far as the Emperor Maximilian I was concerned, Cambrai was no longer some distant outpost of the Empire – it bordered on the Netherlands territories whose heiress he had married, whose infant prince was his grandson and heir and whose Regent was his daughter.

In 1543 the Bishop was pro-French, which led the Emperor Charles V to enter the Cambrésis and built a citadel in the city.   To limit the dangers of any future Bishop favouring the French, the Bishopric was elevated in 1559 to head its own province in part of the Netherlands territories ruled by the King of Spain.   Nevertheless the Cambrésis was held by France from 1582 to 1595.  Spanish rule was restored in 1595, but the district finally fell to France in 1677, confirmed by Treaty in 1678.   Cambrai  is now in the Département du Nord.

The diocese (originally seated in Arras) belonged to the province of Reims, which included both French and Imperial lands until 1559.   From then it was an Archbishopric with its province in the southwestern and Imperial Netherlands.

Cambrai was demoted as a consequence of the Revolution, becoming the diocese for the Département du Nord in the province of Paris in 1790, transferring to Reims in 1802.   In 1841 it became an Archbishopric again, with its province in the north of France consisting of two dioceses, Cambrai and Arras.

The archdiocese was divided in 1913, the north forming the new diocese of Lille.   The Département du Nord is thus one of a select band of departments which have two diocesan bishops (the Marne and the Bouches-du-Rhône are the others).

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