Péronne (French pronunciation: [pen]) is a commune of the Somme department in Hauts-de-France in northern France.
It is close to where the 1916, first 1918 and second 1918 Battles of the Somme took place during the First World War.
The Museum of the Great War (known in French as the Historial de la Grande Guerre) is located in the château.
Péronne is situated in the old region of Santerre, home of the early French kings.
Hidden in the Somme valley, between lakes and huge fields of crops, the town is known as a paradise for fishing and hunting.
The autoroutes A1 and A16 pass close by. The national road, the N17, traverses the town.
Urbs nescia vinci (The town that ignores defeat).
The ruined main square of Péronne after the First World War
On a hill, dominating the Somme river and its lakes, Péronne was a well-fortified place during the early Middle Ages. The ramparts were built in the 9th century. All that remains today of the ancient fortress is the Porte de Bretagne.
Few towns have been as involved in the history of France, few towns so often devastated, as Péronne. Burned and pillaged in the time of the Normans; gravely damaged during the time of the Spanish occupation; devastated by the Germans in 1870; totally destroyed in 1917; bombarded and burned in May 1940 by the German airforce. Péronne was awarded two Croix de Guerre and the Légion d'honneur.
- King Charles the Simple, prisoner of Rudolph, Duke of Burgundy died here, a captive in the dungeons, in 929. He was buried in the abbey.
- In the 12th century, Philippe II built the towers of the château, surrounded by ditches, with a portcullis to defend the main gate.
- In 1468, Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy forced a treaty from Louis XI, who was held prisoner in the castle. Much land was ceded, but eventually won back by Louis.
- In 1536, Charles Quint unsuccessfully besieged the town. Catherine of Poix, also known as "Marie Fouré" led the defence of the town, throwing a Spaniard off the top of the wall.
- On 14 September 1641, Louis XIII and Honoré II, Prince of Monaco signed a treaty at Péronne, placing the principality of Monaco under the protection of France.
- On 26June 1815 following the Battle of Waterloo, a garrison of 1,500 National Guard in the town surrendered to the advancing Allied Army.
- There was a motor-racing circuit southeast of the town in the 1920s and 1930s which held the Grand Prix de Picardie organised by the Automobile Club de Picardie et de l'Aisne.
Places and monuments
Château de Péronne entrance
West front of Saint-Jean-Baptiste
- Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Péronne: Destroyed between 1914 and 1918, then slightly damaged in 1944, the west front, is built in "gothique flamboyant" style.
- In front of the church stands the statue of Marie Fouré, a local heroine.
- Danicourt Museum (named for former mayor Charles Alfred Danicourt), founded in the Hôtel-de-ville in 1877, is the only museum of the Somme to have been pillaged and destroyed by the Germans between 1916-18. It lost 98% of its collection. A few archeological treasures were saved by the museum curator, who hid them from the Germans when they took the town in 1914. These treasures were again subject to German interest in 1941. Overlooked by the first reconstruction in 1955, it was not until the second reconstruction of the building that the museum was back in use. Its founder, the former mayor Charles Alfred Danicourt, created the museum as a cultural beacon of the Somme ca. 1900. Nowadays, one can find one of the finest collections of early Gallic coins, antique gold jewelry, Merovingian funeral artefacts, a panorama of sand production during prehistoric times and some local examples of 19th- and 20th-century paintings.
- The city of Péronne is equally known for its "Monument to the Dead", the work of the architect Louis Faille, representing a Picardy woman with clenched fist raised above the body of her son or husband killed by the war.
- Monument of the Sailor Delpas, recalling the defence of the city and its fall at the time of the Franco-Prussian War in the winter 1870-1871.
- The Australian Monument recalls the heroic actions in a neighbourhood of the town by Australian soldiers in 1918.
- The Brittany Gate, with its strengthened stonework, is reminiscent of the defensive aspect of Péronne
- The Château de Péronne is a largely ruined castle, classified as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
- Within the walls of the ancient château, nowadays run by the Somme département, the "Historial de la Grande Guerre" museum is a 'must visit' for those interested in the Great War. Created in 1992, by architect Henri Ciriani, it illustrates the development of the conflict. The building is characterised by the stark whiteness of the cement, inset with small cylinders, symbolic of military graves.
- Mont Saint-Quentin
Twin towns -- sister cities
Péronne is twinned with: