town, capital of Pas-de-Calais departement, Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, former capital of Artois, northern France, on the Scarpe River, southwest of Lille. Of Gallo-Roman origin, it was the chief town (Nemetacum or Nemetocenna) of the Atrebates, one of the last Gallic peoples to surrender to Caesar. The woollen industry dates from the 4th century. The Middle Ages was a period of great material and cultural wealth, when Arras became the English word for tapestry hangings. The fortunes of the town followed those of troubled Artois, and it passed through many hands before being joined for the last time to France in 1659 by the Treaty of the Pyrenees. A peace treaty (1435) was signed there by Philip the Good of Burgundy and Charles VII of France. The Peace of Arras in 1482 fixed the northern frontiers of modern France. From 1479 to 1484 Louis XI, after razing the walls, ordered a mass deportation of citizens. Arras was the birthplace of Robespierre. The French Revolution and both world wars destroyed many of its ancient buildings. The town centres on two arcaded and gabled squares, the Grande and Petite. The reconstructed 16th-century Gothic Hotel de Ville is on the Petite Place
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