ST. QUENTIN, a manufacturing town of northern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Aisne, 32 m. N.N.W. of Laon by rail. Pop. (1931) 48,223. St. Quentin (anc. Augusta V eromanduorum) stood at the meeting-place of five military roads. In the 3rd century it was the scene of the martyr dom of Gaius Quintinus. The date of the foundation of the bishopric is uncertain, but about 532 it was transferred to Noyon. Towards the middle of the 7th century St. Eloi (Eligius), bishop of Noyon, established a collegiate chapter at St. Quentin's tomb, which became a famous place of pilgrimage. The importance of the town was increased during the middle ages by the rise of its cloth manufacture. The town was surrounded by walls in 883. It became under Pippin, grandson of Charlemagne, one of the principal domains of the counts of Vermandois, and in io8o re ceived from Count Herbert IV. a charter which was extended in 1103. From 1420 to 1471 St. Quentin was occupied by the Bur gundians. In 1557 it was taken by the Spaniards (see below). Two years later the town was restored to the French, and in 156o it was assigned as the dowry of Mary Stuart. During the Franco Prussian War St. Quentin repulsed the German attacks of Oct. 8, 187o; and in January 1871 it was the centre of the great battle fought by General Faidherbe. In the World War St. Quentin was held by the Germans from the end of Aug. 1914 to Oct. 1, 1918. For the battles of St. Quentin, see below.
The town stands on the right bank of the Somme, at its junction with the St. Quentin canal (which unites the Somme with the Scheldt) and the Crozat canal (which unites it with the Oise). The collegiate church of St. Quentin, a fine Gothic building of the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, damaged during the war, was reopened in 1920. It has no west facade but terminates at that end in a tower and portal of Romanesque architecture ; it has double transepts. The choir (13th century) has remains of a choir screen of the 14th century. Under the choir is a crypt of the 11th century, containing the tombs of St. Quentin (Quintin) and his fellow-martyrs Victoricus and Gentianus. The hotel-de-ville of St. Quentin (only slightly damaged), is a Gothic building of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, with a flamboyant façade, adorned with curious sculptures. St. Quentin is the seat of a sub-prefect, of a tribunal of commerce, of a board of trade-arbitrators, and a chamber of commerce. The town has recovered its industrial activity and is the centre of a district which manufactures cotton and woollen fabrics. St. Quentin produces chiefly window-curtains and carries on the spinning and preliminary processes and the bleaching and finishing. Other industries are the making of em broideries by machinery and by hand, and the manufacture of iron goods, machinery and chemical products. Trade is in grain, flax, cotton and wool.
I. Battle of 1557.—An army of Spaniards under Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy, invading France from the Meuse, joined an allied contingent of English troops under the walls of St. Quentin, which was then closely besieged. Admiral Coligny threw himself into the town, and the old Constable Montmorency prepared to relieve it. On St. Lawrence's Day, Aug. 1o, the relieving column
reached the town without difficulty, but time was wasted in draw ing off the garrison, for the pontoons intended to bridge the canal had marched at the tail of the column, and when brought up were mismanaged. The besiegers, recovering from their surprise, formed the plan of cutting off the retreat of the relieving army. Mont morency had thrown out the necessary protective posts, but at the point which the besiegers chose for their passage the post was composed of poor troops, who fled at the first shot. Thus, while the constable was busy with his boats, the Spanish army filed across the Bridge of Rouvroy, some distance above the town, with impunity, and Montmorency, in the hope of executing his mission without fighting, refused to allow the cavalry under the duc de Nevers to charge them, and miscalculated his time of freedom. The Spaniards, enormously superior in force, cut off and destroyed the French gendarmerie who formed the vanguard of the column, and then headed off the slow-moving infantry south of Essigny-le Grand. Around the io,000 French gathered some 40,000 assail ants with forty-two guns. The cannon thinned their ranks, and at last the cavalry broke in and slaughtered them. Yet Coligny gallantly held St. Quentin for seventeen days longer, Nevers rallied the remnant of the army and, garrisoning Peronne, Ham and other strong places, entrenched himself in front of Compiegne, and the allies, disheartened by a war of sieges and skirmishes, came to a standstill. Soon afterwards Philip, jealous of the re nown of his generals and unwilling to waste his highly trained soldados in ineffective fighting, ordered the army to retreat (Oct. I7), disbanded the temporary regiments and dispersed the per manent corps in winter quarters.