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Saint-Omer

town, Pas-de-Calais departement, Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, northeastern France. It lies along the canalized Aa River and is 22 miles (36 km) southwest of the Belgian frontier. The town grew around a monastery and a chapel, founded in the 7th century by St. Omer and his companions. The last king of the Frankish Merovingian dynasty, Childeric III, died there in 755 after being deposed by the first ruler of the succeeding Carolingian dynasty, Pippin III (the Short). Saint-Omer was fortified by the counts of Flanders in the 10th century and eventually passed to the Spanish crown. The capture of it in 1677 by Louis XIV of France was ratified the following year by the Treaty of Nijmegen. The old town has a number of fine 17th- and 18th-century houses. The 13th-15th-century basilica of Notre-Dame (formerly a cathedral) contains numerous works of art. The Sandelin Museum, housing a collection of ceramics and Flemish paintings, is in an elegant 18th-century building. The town was heavily damaged during World Wars I and II. It is the centre of an active truck-gardening region. Industries include the manufacturing of paper, glass, and textiles. Pop. (1990) 14,434; (1999) 15,756.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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