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Coordinates: 50°22′17″N 3°04′48″E / 50.3713888889°N 3.08°E / 50.3713888889; 3.08

Commune of Douai

Location
Douai is located in France
Douai
Administration
Country France
Region Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Department Nord
Arrondissement Douai
Intercommunality Douaisis
Mayor Jacques Vernier
(2001–2008)
Statistics
Elevation 16–38 m (52–120 ft)
(avg. 24 m/79 ft)
Land area1 16.88 km2 (6.52 sq mi)
Population2 42,796  (1999)
 - Density 2,535 /km2 (6,570 /sq mi)
Miscellaneous
INSEE/Postal code 59178/ 59500
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Bell tower of Douai, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

Douai (Dutch: Dowaai) is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.

It is a sub-prefecture of the department. Located on the river Scarpe some 40 km from Lille and 25 km from Arras, Douai is home to one of the region's most impressive belfries.

The population of the metropolitan area, including Lens, was 552,682 in 1999.

Contents

Economy

The main industries in the town are in the chemical and metal engineering sectors. Renault has a huge vehicle assembly plant near the town, which has produced many well known Renault vehicles, such as the R14, R11, R19, and the Megane and Scenic of today.

History

Its site probably corresponds to that of a 4th century Roman fortress known as Duacum. The town became a flourishing textile market centre during the Middle Ages under the Counts of Flanders. Historically, it was known as Douay (Doway in English). In 1384, it passed into the domains of the Counts of Burgundy and thence in 1477 into Habsburg possessions.

In 1667, Douai was taken by the troops of Louis XIV of France, and by the 1668 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, the town was ceded to France. During successive sieges from 1710 to 1712, Douai was almost completely destroyed. By 1713, the town was fully integrated into France. Apart from the ferment of the French Revolution, it was again caught up in hostilities in World War I, and in 1918, the town was partly burned, while World War II also brought considerable damage to Douai. The town is still a transportation and commercial center for the area, which is known for its coalfield, the richest in northern France.[1]

Detail of Douai's belfry.

Main sights

Douai's ornate Gothic style belfry was begun in 1380, on the site of an earlier tower. The 80 m high structure includes an impressive carillon, consisting of 62 bells spanning 5 octaves. The originals, some dating from 1391 were removed in 1917 during World War I by the occupying German forces, who intended to melt them down for the metal. They were reinstalled after repairs in 1924, but 47 of them were replaced in 1954 to obtain a better sound. An additional larger bell in the summit, a La called "Joyeuse", dates from 1471 and weighs 5.5 tonnes. The chimes are rung by a mechanism every quarter hour, but are also played via a keyboard on Saturday mornings and at certain other times.

The substantial Porte de Valenciennes town gate, a reminder of the town's past military importance, was built in 1453. One face is built in Gothic style, while the other is of Classical design.

Catholic studies

The University of Douai was founded under the patronage of Phillip II, when Douai belonged to the Spanish Netherlands.

It was prominent, from the 1560s until the French Revolution, as a centre for the education of English Catholics escaping the persecution in England. Connected with the University were not only the English College, Douai, founded by William Allen, but also the Irish and Scottish colleges and the Benedictine, Franciscan and Jesuit houses.

The Benedictine priory of St Gregory the Great was founded by Saint John Roberts at Douai in 1605, with a handful of exiled English Benedictines who had entered various monasteries in Spain, as the first house after the Reformation to begin conventual life. The community was established within the English Benedictine Congregation and started a college for English Catholic boys who were unable to find a Catholic education at home, and pursued studies in the University of Douai. However, the community was expelled at the time of the French Revolution in 1793 and, after some years of wandering, finally settled at Downside Abbey, Somerset, in 1814.

Another English Benedictine community, the Priory of St. Edmund, which had been formed in Paris in 1615 by Dom Gabriel Gifford, later Archbishop of Rheims and primate of France, was expelled from Paris during the Revolution, and eventually took over the vacant buildings of the community of St Gregory's in 1818. Later, following Waldeck-Rousseau's Law of Associations (1901), this community also returned to England in 1903, where it was established at Douai Abbey, near Reading. Douai School continued as an educational establishment for boys until 1999.

In 1609 the English College published a translation of the Old Testament, which, together with the New Testament published at Rheims 27 years earlier, was the Bible used by Anglophone Roman Catholics almost exclusively for more than 300 years.

For a time there was a Charterhouse in Douai.

Other colleges and universities

Notable people

Douai was the birthplace of:

Twin towns

Douai is twinned with:

References

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Database error article)

From LoveToKnow 1911

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