Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Abbeville from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

commune N France on the Somme NW of Amiens pop 24,568

Summary Article: Abbeville
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Town in the Somme département, Picardy region, in northern France, 19 km/12 mi inland from the mouth of the River Somme and 40 km/25 mi northwest of Amiens; population (2005 est) 24,000. Abbeville has a large agricultural market; manufacturing industries include textiles, metal goods, and brewing. The town's 15th-century church of St-Vulfran is notable for its flamboyant facade and twin towers.

First mentioned in 881, the town is historically associated with two treaties, both of which have borne its name: the first was signed by Henry III of England and Louis IX of France in 1259; the second by Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France in 1527. The west front of the church of St-Vulfran has a doorway containing the French royal arms with a rampant lion, commemorating the marriage in 1515 of Louis XII, who was 52, to the young Mary Tudor of England, sister of Henry VIII.

In 1837 the geologist Jacques Boucher de Crèvecoeur de Perthes uncovered evidence of a 500,000-year-old tool industry at nearby gravel pits. This and subsequent discoveries confirmed the antiquity of the human species, and the term Abbevillian has been used by archaeologists to describe a specific period of development in the tool industry of Western Europe.

During World War I Abbeville was an important base for the British armies. The town suffered much damage during World War II and was extensively rebuilt. A 15-day carnival is held in Abbeville each year, starting on 22 July – the day of Saint-Marie Madeleine.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.