Cambrai, Archdiocese of (Cameracensis)
CAMBRAI, ARCHDIOCESE OF (CAMERACENSIS)
Metropolitan see since 1559, in Nord department, northern France. Cambrai's diocesan borders have changed several times, according to the political fortunes of the region, which is on France's border with the German world. At the end of the Roman Empire the see corresponded to the civitas Nerviorum in Belgica II. It had no bishop after the German invasions of the early 5th century. St. remigius, bishop of Reims, made St. vedast (d.c. 540) bishop of the Netvii; but he resided in Arras. His second successor, Vedulphus, who moved the see to Cambrai, was followed by St. gÉry (d. c. 625). Until 1094 Arras and Cambrai had a common bishop, who usually resided in Cambrai. Bordered on the west by the Schelde River, the diocese expanded, along with evangelization, as far north as Antwerp.
Charles V abdicated in 1558, and Philip II moved to Spain in 1559 after the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis. To combat Protestantism better, Mechelen and antwerp were in 1559 detached as dioceses from Cambrai, which, previously suffragan to reims, became a metropolitan, with Tournai, Arras, Saint-Omer, and Namur as suffragans. In 1790 the civil constitution of the clergy reduced Cambrai to a suffragan of Reims. It was restored as a metropolitan without authority over its former Belgian suffragans by the agreements of 1822, but no archbishop was appointed until after the death of Bishop Belmas (1841), last of the constitutional prelates. Cambrai then encompassed all of the Nord department, part of which was detached to create the See of Lille in 1913.
The bishops of Cambrai, who had regular and good relationships with the Carolingian emperors, became more powerful when the emperors gave them the comitatus (rights of a count) over part of the episcopal civitas (c. 941) and then (1007) over the whole county. Thus they became temporal and spiritual lords with a role in Church history under the German (Holy Roman) Empire. Trouble with the bourgeoisie caused the bishop to cede some of his rights to the commune in 1185. Under Burgundian rule (1384–1477) the bishops, who came from the highest nobility and even from the ducal family, favored the popes of Avignon in the western schism; peter of ailly (1396–1411), a prolific author, had a strong influence in scholastic and ecclesiastical circles. When France annexed Cambrai (1678), louis xiv gained from the cathedral chapter the right to appoint bishops. Cambrai then followed the fortunes of France. François Salignac de la Mothe fÉnelon (1695–1715) was an outstanding prelate, and Auguste gratry (d. 1872) was a noteworthy theologian.
A rich land, the diocese has had many abbeys since the 7th century: Benedictines (11 men's and 5 women's), Augustinian (4 and 4), and Cistercians (2 and 6); 4 Premonstratensian abbeys were important during the 12th-century reform. (see affligem; groenendael; lobbes; saint-bertin; saint-vaast.) There were also many houses of the mendicant orders, a Jesuit college (1563), and a university at douai to train priests for England (e.g., William Allen's English College, 1568). Wars have left few monuments in good repair; the cathedral has almost been destroyed. Of note are the abbey churches of Saint-Géry, Vaucelles, and Oisy-le-Verger; and the churches of Avesnes-lès-Aubert and Saint-Géry in Valenciennes.
Arras's first resident bishop seems to have been Diogenes, perhaps a missionary, slain in the Vandal invasion (407). Early monasteries were associated with the expansion of Irish monasticism c. 700. The temporal power of Arras's 9th-century chapter in the civitas (the area around the cathedral) suffered from nearby Saint-Vaast Abbey, around which grew up a prosperous community. Normans destroyed both Arras and Cambrai (879–885). When the counts of Flanders began to reside in Arras in the 10th century, the temporal power of the bishops (in Cambrai) suffered. A dispute over the episcopal succession (1092) led to the creation of the See of Arras (1094). In the 13th century, as Arras grew rich, there was a movement for evangelical poverty, and rich bourgeois founded houses of the mendicant orders. Part of Burgundy in 1369, Arras came to France in the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659); but neither its clergy nor those of Cambrai took part in the French Assembly of the Clergy. Bishop Gui Scève de Rochechouart (1670–1724) founded the seminary.
See Also: arras, martyrs of; arras, councils of.
Bibliography: c. j. destombes, Les Vies des saints et des personnes d'une éminente piété des diocèses de Cambrai et d'Arras, 4 v. (4th ed. Lille 1889). f. vercauteren, Étude sur les civitates de la Belgique seconde (Brussels 1934). É. de moreau, Histoire de l'Église en Belgique (2d ed. Brussels 1945–); Dictionnaire d'historie et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudril lart et al. (Paris 1912–) 7:519–756, passim. m. chartier, ibid. 11:547–565. e. jarry, Catholicisme 1:860–864; 2:427–434. m. dierick, "La Réorganisation de la hiérarchie ecclésiastique des Pays-Bas par la bulle 1559," Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 59(1964) 489–499. Annuario Pontificio (1965) 88.