AVESNES, a town of northern France, capital of an
arrondissement in the department of Nord, on the Helpe, 28 m. S.E. of
Valenciennes by rail. Pop. (1906) 5076. The town is the seat of a
sub-prefect, and has a tribunal of first instance, a chamber of commerce
and a communal college. Its church of St Nicholas (16th century) has a
tower 200 ft. high, with a finechime of bells. The chiefindustry of the
town is wool-spinning, and there is trade in wood. Avesnes was founded in
the 11th century, and formed a countship which in the 15th century passed
to the house of Burgundy and afterwards to that of Habsburg. In 1477 it
was destroyed by Louis XI. By the treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) it came
into the possession of the French, and was fortified by Vauban. It was
captured by the Prussians in 1815.
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