Town in the Oise département, France, on the River Oise near its confluence with the River Aisne; population (2005 est) 41,700. Compiègne is a fashionable holiday town for the Paris region; it also has machinery, printing, rubber, and timber industries. The enormous château, founded in Merovingian times, was rebuilt by Louis XV. The same railway coach in the forest of Compiègne was the setting for both the armistice of 11 November 1918, which ended World War I, and the truce agreed by the Pétain government with Hitler in 1940.
History The town is said to date from Roman times, and was later the site of a hunting lodge of the Frankish kings. The Emperor Charles II founded the great abbey of St Corneille at Compiègne, and built two castles nearby. It was at Compiègne that Joan of Arc, making a sortie from the town during a siege, was taken by the Burgundians in 1430.
Features The town stands at the northwestern end of forest of Compiègne, which covers 14,500 ha/35,814 acres and was once a favourite hunting ground of the French kings. The château was later embellished by Napoleon; it contains fine paintings and tapestries, and has a museum of carriages. The town hall dates from the 16th century. The Théâtre Impérial was initiated by Napoleon III in 1866, but the building works were abandoned at the outbreak of the Franco–Prussian war. In 1987 an association was formed to undertake the renovation and completion of the building, and it opened in 1991.