Artois is a former province
Provinces of France
The Kingdom of France was organised into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the département system superseded provinces. The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England...

 of northern France. Its territory has an area of around 4000 km² and a population of about one million. Its principal cities are Arras
Arras is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The historic centre of the Artois region, its local speech is characterized as a Picard dialect...

 (Dutch: Atrecht), Saint-Omer
Saint-Omer , a commune and sub-prefecture of the Pas-de-Calais department west-northwest of Lille on the railway to Calais. The town is named after Saint Audomar, who brought Christianity to the area....

, Lens
Lens, Pas-de-Calais
Lens is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. It is one of France's large Picarde cities along with Lille, Valenciennes, Amiens, Roubaix, Tourcoing, Arras, and Douai.-Metropolitan area:...

 and Béthune
Béthune is a city in northern France, sub-prefecture of the Pas-de-Calais department.-Geography:Béthune is located in the former province of Artois. It is situated South-East of Calais, West of Lille, and North of Paris.-Landmarks:...



Artois occupies the interior of the Pas-de-Calais département, the western part of which constitutes the former Boulonnais
The Boulonnais, also known as the "White Marble Horse", is a heavy draft horse breed. It is known for its elegant, though large, appearance and is found in many colors. The breed's origins trace to a period before the Crusades and, during the 17th century, Spanish Barb, Arabian and Andalusian blood...

. Artois roughly corresponds to the arrondissement
Arrondissements of France
The 101 French departments are divided into 342 arrondissements, which may be translated into English as districts.The capital of an arrondissement/district is called a subprefecture...

s of Arras
Arrondissement of Arras
The arrondissement of Arras is an arrondissement of France, located in the Pas-de-Calais département, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais région...

, Béthune
Arrondissement of Béthune
The arrondissement of Béthune is an arrondissement of France, located in the Pas-de-Calais department, in the Nord-Pas de Calais region. It has 14 cantons and 99 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Béthune are:# Auchel# Barlin...

, Saint Omer
Arrondissement of Saint-Omer
The arrondissement of Saint-Omer is an arrondissement of France, located in the Pas-de-Calais département, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais région...

, and Lens
Arrondissement of Lens
The arrondissement of Lens is an arrondissement of northern France, located in the Pas-de-Calais département, in the Nord-Pas de Calais région...

, and the eastern part of the Arrondissement of Montreuil
Arrondissement of Montreuil
The arrondissement of Montreuil is an arrondissement of France, located in the Pas-de-Calais département, in the Nord-Pas de Calais région...

. It occupies the western end of the coalfield
A coalfield is an area of certain uniform characteristics where coal is mined. The criteria for determining the approximate boundary of a coalfield are geographical and cultural, in addition to geological...

 which stretches eastward through the neighbouring Nord département and across central Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...



Originally a feudal county itself, Artois was annexed by the county of Flanders
County of Flanders
The County of Flanders was one of the territories constituting the Low Countries. The county existed from 862 to 1795. It was one of the original secular fiefs of France and for centuries was one of the most affluent regions in Europe....

. It came to France in 1180 as a dowry of a Flemish princess, Isabelle of Hainaut
Isabelle of Hainaut
Isabella of Hainault was queen consort of France as the first wife of King Philip II of France.- Early life :...

, and was again made a separate county
County of Artois
The County of Artois was an historic province of the Kingdom of France, held by the Dukes of Burgundy from 1384 until 1477/82, and a state of the Holy Roman Empire from 1493 until 1659....

 in 1237 for Robert,
a grandson of Isabelle. Through inheritance, Artois came under the rule of the dukes of Burgundy in 1384. At the death of the fourth duke, Charles the Bold, Artois was inherited by the Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

s and passed to the dynasty's Spanish line. After the religious revolts of 1566 in the Netherlands, Artois briefly entered the Dutch Revolt
Dutch Revolt
The Dutch Revolt or the Revolt of the Netherlands This article adopts 1568 as the starting date of the war, as this was the year of the first battles between armies. However, since there is a long period of Protestant vs...

 in 1576, participating in the Pacification of Ghent
Pacification of Ghent
The Pacification of Ghent, signed on November 8, 1576, was an alliance of the provinces of the Habsburg Netherlands for the purpose of driving mutinying Spanish mercenary troops from the country, and at the same time a peace treaty with the rebelling provinces Holland and Zeeland.-Background:In...

 until it formed the Union of Atrecht
Union of Atrecht
The Union of Arras was an accord signed on 6 January 1579 in Arras , under which the southern states of the Netherlands, today in Wallonia and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais régions in France and Belgium, expressed their loyalty to the Spanish king Philip II and recognized his Governor-General, Don Juan...

 in 1579. After the Union of Atrecht, Artois and Hainaut
County of Hainaut
The County of Hainaut was a historical region in the Low Countries with its capital at Mons . In English sources it is often given the archaic spelling Hainault....

 (Dutch: Henegouwen) reached a separate agreement with Philip II
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

. Artois remained with the Spanish Netherlands until it was conquered by the French during the Thirty Years War. The annexation was acknowledged during the Treaty of the Pyrenees
Treaty of the Pyrenees
The Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed to end the 1635 to 1659 war between France and Spain, a war that was initially a part of the wider Thirty Years' War. It was signed on Pheasant Island, a river island on the border between the two countries...

 in 1659, and it became a French province. Though Artois had already been largely French-speaking, it was considered part of the Netherlands until the French annexation.

Artois experienced rapid industrial development during the second half of the 19th century, fueled by its rich coal resources. During World War I the front line between the opposing German and Allied
Entente Cordiale
The Entente Cordiale was a series of agreements signed on 8 April 1904 between the United Kingdom and the French Republic. Beyond the immediate concerns of colonial expansion addressed by the agreement, the signing of the Entente Cordiale marked the end of almost a millennium of intermittent...

 armies in France ran through the province, resulting in enormous physical damage. Since the latter half of the 20th century Artois has suffered along with similar areas because of the decline of the coal industry.

Notable residents

  • Pierre-Charles Le Sueur
    Pierre-Charles Le Sueur
    Pierre-Charles Le Sueur was a French fur trader and explorer in North America, recognized as the first known European to explore the Minnesota River valley....

    , (c.1657-c.1705), born in Artois, noted explorer and trader.
  • Maximilien Robespierre
    Maximilien Robespierre
    Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre is one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. He largely dominated the Committee of Public Safety and was instrumental in the period of the Revolution commonly known as the Reign of Terror, which ended with his...

     (1758–1794), French revolution
    French Revolution
    The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

    ary leader, born in Arras
  • Carolus Clusius

See also

  • Communauté d'agglomération de l'Artois
    Communauté d'agglomération de l'Artois
    The Communauté d'agglomération de l'Artois is an administrative entity in the Pas-de-Calais département, in northern France. Administrative center: Béthune.It covers 58 communes, and has a population of approximately 200,000...

  • Battle of Artois (disambiguation)
  • County of Artois
    County of Artois
    The County of Artois was an historic province of the Kingdom of France, held by the Dukes of Burgundy from 1384 until 1477/82, and a state of the Holy Roman Empire from 1493 until 1659....

  • Weald-Artois Anticline
    Weald-Artois Anticline
    The Weald–Artois anticline is a large anticline, a geological structure running between the regions of the Weald in southern England and the Artois in northeastern France. The fold formed during the Alpine orogeny, from the late Oligocene to middle Miocene as an uplifted form of the Weald basin...

    , a ridge that connected continental Europe and Britain until 225,000 years ago
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