ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visting Saint-Martin-Rivière, Aisne, France: the peace of centuries disturbed only by war

Updated on February 24, 2016
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Saint-Martin Church
Saint-Martin Church | Source
Saint-Martin-Riviere Town Hall
Saint-Martin-Riviere Town Hall | Source
Major-General Edward Mann Lewis
Major-General Edward Mann Lewis | Source
Source of the Selle
Source of the Selle | Source

Peering into the tumultuous past

This is an old and small village in the French department of Aisne. The parish church at Saint-Martin-Rivière has some ancient elements. The choir dates from the 15th century; the nave was built in the 17th century (1).

The very appearance of this old building gives the strong, subjective impression that things have hardly changed since the Middle Ages. The pointed arches at the windows show evidence of Gothic influence.

In contrast to the Gothic arching at the parish church building, the Town Hall and adjoining buildings evidence rounded, Syrian and elliptical arching.

Life in the village has a strong degree of continuity. Even today, the mayor of Saint-Martin-Rivière might well be re-elected continuously for decades.

The population of the village in 2013 was 133. (Contrast this with its population in the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s, when it consistently remained over 1100.)

So to what does the word 'Rivière' refer, in the commune's name? It refers to the Selle River, which runs through the village, having risen in the neighbouring village of Molain (I have supplied, right, a photo of the Selle at Molain).

Here are introduced recollections of cataclysmic events in the early 20th century. The name of the river recalls the Battle of the Selle, October 17-26, 1918, which was part of the Hundred Days' Offensive, leading to the Armistice on November 11, 1918. Over these months, the Imperial German General Ludendorff emerged a broken, disillusioned man, who went into exile, at the end of World War One, while British Generals Horne, Byng (2) and Rawlinson emerged with much credit. In the Battle of the Selle, the US. 30th Infantry Division, serving under British command, led by American Major-General Edward Mann Lewis, captured Saint-Martin-Rivière on October 17, 1918.

World War Two, though cataclysmic in its broader scheme of things also, did not affect Saint-Martin-Rivière to quite the same military extent as did World War One. When I stayed in the village, however, I did meet a gentleman who had been active in the French Resistance in World War Two.

A dependency of Saint-Martin-Rivière is the hamlet of Arbre de Guise, recalling the name of the commune's cantonal town in Aisne department, and of French Dukes identified historically with Counter-Reformation forces in the 16th and 17th centuries. Saint-Martin Rivière lies within the arrondissement of Vervins.

February 24, 2016

Notes

(1) Bibliothèque historique, monumentale, ecclésiastique et littéraire de la Picardie et de l'Artois, publ. par P. Roger, avec la colloboration de M. le comte d'Allonville , Amiens, 1844, p. 347.

(2) Later Viscount Byng of Vimy; served 1921-1926 as Governor-General of Canada, who famously had a disagreement with Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King in 1926 during what became known as the 'King-Byng Thing'; however, Viscount Byng's is mainly recalled as victor of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, France, in 1917, together with General Sir Arthur Currie.

Map location of Vervins 'arrondissement'.
Map location of Vervins 'arrondissement'. | Source

Also worth seeing

In Le Cateau-Cambrésis (distance: 7.6 kilometres) — also in the Selle Valley (see above) — two magnificent belfries crown the Town Hall and the Collegiate church of Saint-Martin respectively; the Matisse museum is housed in the Fénélon Palace.

Roisin, Belgium (distance: 39 kilometres) has a château and a monument to poet Emile Verhaeren.

...

How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle), from where car rental is available (distance from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport to Saint-Martin-Rivière: 153 kilometres). Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. Brussels is the nearest large airport to Saint-Martin-Rivière (distance: 131.6 kilometres). Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)