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This article is about the historical French province. For other uses, see Picardy .

Picardy ( ) is a historical province of France, in the north of Francemarker. The historical capital and largest city is Amiensmarker.

During the Middle Ages, 'Picardy' referred to that part of France north of Parismarker, and it even included the Dutch speaking Flanders. Thus, the name applied to an area much larger than what we now think of as Picardy. This area corresponds to all the territories from Paris to the Netherlandsmarker. In the Latin Quartermarker of Paris, people identified a "Picardy Nation" (Nation Picarde) of students, most of whom actually came from Flanders, who studied in the prestigious Sorbonne Universitymarker.

In a narrower sense, Picardy refers to the area covered by the gouvernement (military region) of Picardy as created in the 16th century. This area is the Sommemarker département, the northern half of the Aisnemarker département, and a small fringe in the north of the Oisemarker département. This is what most people think of as Picardy today. The older definition survives in the name of the Picard language, which applies not only to the dialects of Picardy proper, but also to the Romance dialects spoken in the Nord-Pas de Calaismarker région, north of Picardy proper.

Picardy proper now lies inside the administrative region of Picardymarker, making up half of this region. Before the French Revolution, the coastal areas of Boulogne-sur-Mermarker and Calaismarker were considered part of Picardy, but are now part of the Nord-Pas de Calais région. However, anciently these areas belonged to the province of Artoismarker, and had been detached from Artois in the 15th century.

Most of Picardy is a vast plain with open fields, famed for the gruesome Battle of the Somme. The main crops of Picardy are wheat, sugar beets, and fodder. Sugar beet was introduced by Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars in order to counter the United Kingdommarker which had seized the sugar islands possessed by France in the Caribbeanmarker. The sugar industry made the fortune of Picardy in the 19th century and contributed to the ruin of the sugar economy in the Caribbean.

Villages of Picardy have a distinct character, with their houses made of dark red bricks, in contrast with the neighbouring provinces.

A minority of people still speak the Picard language, one of the languages of France, which is also spoken in Artoismarker (Nord-Pas de Calaismarker région). "P'tit quinquin", a Picard song, is a symbol of the local culture (and of that of Artois).

In popular culture


  1. Encyclopedia Britannica Online

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