Through the ages Image 1

Through the ages



The first mention of Montreuil was in 898, when the Annals of Saint Bertin and Saint Vaast made reference to it. The town was already fortified and is thought to owe its name to a ‘little monastery’ – a monasterolium.


926 saw the monks of Landévennec (in Finistère) establish the Abbaye Saint Walloy in honour of the eponymous saint, whose name derives from a local corruption of ‘Saint Guénolé’. This was the beginning of the town’s military career.


Montreuil was incorporated into the Royal estate in 980. 


In 988 Hugues Capet made the town the only sea port belonging to the Kingdom of France.


Philippe Auguste granted it a communal charter in 1188. Philippe Auguste went on to build a royal stronghold and castle here in the early 13th century. Significant remains of it can still be seen to this day.


On 19 June 1299 the Treaty of Montreuil was agreed between Philippe IV of France and Edward I of England. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims were drawn to the abundant relics kept in the town’s many places of worship, so the place took on a saintly character. Its population rose to over 10,000.


In 1435 the Treaty of Arras transferred ownership of Montreuil to the Duke of Burgundy.


At least six religious buildings were lost when a natural disaster in 1467 caused their collapse. Then as the river Canche gradually silted up, the town went into decline towards the end of the Middle Ages.


1537 saw Montreuil under siege by the combined armies of Henry VIII and Charles V.


In 1567 Charles IX ordered a citadel to be built on the site of the old 13th-century castle.


Towards 1670 Vauban updated the fortifications of his predecessors by overhauling the citadel.

18e siècle

Montreuil’s star rose again in the 18th century and this new prosperity brought with it the construction of many prestigious hôtels particuliers.


Troops from Napoleon’s Boulogne Camp were stationed in Montreuil in 1803, which livened up the town a bit.


Between 1890 and 1930, Montreuil became the base for a colony of American painters.


First World War : the British GHQ was stationed inside the walls, under the command of Field Marshal Douglas Haig.