Main Births etc
Top:View of Downtown Rouen and Seine River from Bois Bagneres Hill, Middle left:Twilightview of Archives department of Seine Maritime building, Center:Nightview of Gros-Horloge, Middle right:Gustave-Flaobert Bridge, Bottom:Nightview of Rouen Norte-Dame Cathedral and Seine River

Coat of arms

Rouen is located in France
Coordinates: 49°26′28″N 1°05′47″E / 49.4412, 1.0963Coordinates: 49°26′28″N 1°05′47″E / 49.4412, 1.0963
Country France
Region Normandy
Department Seine-Maritime
Arrondissement Rouen
Intercommunality CREA
 • Mayor (2012–2014) Yvon Robert (PS)
Area1 21.38 km2 (8.25 sq mi)
 • Urban 448 km2 (173 sq mi)
 • Metro (2010) 1,800 km2 (700 sq mi)
Population (20067)2 111,000
 • Rank 36th in France
 • Density 5,200/km2 (13,000/sq mi)
 • Urban (2010) 494,382
 • Urban density 1,100/km2 (2,900/sq mi)
 • Metro (2010) 650,000
 • Metro density 360/km2 (940/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC +1)
INSEE/Postal code 76540
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Rouen (French pronunciation: [ʁwɑ̃]), in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy) region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages. It was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries. It was here that Joan of Arc was executed in 1431. People from Rouen are called Rouennais.

The population of the metropolitan area (in French: agglomération) at the 1999 census was 518,316, and 532,559 at the 2007 estimate. The city proper had an estimated population of 110,276 in 2007.


Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy) région, as well as a commune and the préfecture (capital) of the Seine-Maritime département.

Rouen and 70 suburban communes of the metropolitan area form the Agglomeration community of Rouen-Elbeuf-Austreberthe (CREA), with 494,382 inhabitants at the 2010 census. In descending order of population, the largest of these suburbs are Sotteville-lès-Rouen, Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Le Grand-Quevilly, Le Petit-Quevilly, and Mont-Saint-Aignan, each with a population exceeding 20,000.


Unknown to Julius Caesar, Rouen was founded by the Gaulish tribe of the Veliocasses, who controlled a large area in the lower Seine valley, which retains a trace of their name as the Vexin. They called it Ratumacos;[1] the Romans called it Rotomagus.[2] Roman Rotomagus was the second city of Gallia Lugdunensis after Lugdunum (Lyon) itself. Under the reorganization of the empire by Diocletian, Rouen became the chief city of the divided province of Gallia Lugdunensis II and reached the apogee of its Roman development, with an amphitheatre and thermae of which the foundations remain. In the 5th century, it became the seat of a bishopric (though the names of early bishops are purely legendary[3]) and later a capital of Merovingian Neustria.

The Middle Ages[]

From their first incursion into the lower valley of the Seine in 841,[4] the Vikings overran Rouen until some of them finally settled and founded a colony led by Rollo (Hrolfr), who was nominated count of Rouen by the king of the Franks in 911. In the 10th century Rouen became the capital of the Duchy of Normandy and residence of the dukes, until William the Conqueror established his castle at Caen.

In 1150, Rouen received its founding charter, which permitted self-government. During the 12th century, Rouen was probably the site of a yeshiva. At that time, about 6,000 Jews lived in the town, comprising about 20% of the total population. In addition, there were a large number of Jews scattered about another 100 communities in Normandy. The well-preserved remains of a medieval Jewish building, that could be a yeshiva, were discovered in the 1970s under the Rouen Law Courts.

City Hall and Church of St. Ouen, Rouen

In 1200, a fire destroyed part of the old Romanesque cathedral, leaving St Romain's tower, the side porches of the front, and part of the nave. New work on the present Gothic cathedral of Rouen was begun, in the nave, transept, choir, and the lowest section of the lantern tower. On 24 June 1204, Philip II Augustus of France entered Rouen and annexed Normandy to the French Kingdom. The fall of Rouen meant the end of an independent Normandy. He demolished the Norman castle and replaced it with his own, the Château Bouvreuil, built on the site of the Gallo-Roman amphitheatre.[5]

A textile industry developed based on wool imported from England, for which the northern County of Flanders and Duchy of Brabant were constantly fierce but worthy competitors, and finding its market in the Champagne fairs. Rouen also depended for its prosperity on the river traffic of the Seine, on which it enjoyed a monopoly that reached as far upstream as Paris. Wine and wheat were exported to England, with tin and wool received in return.

In the 14th century urban strife threatened the city: in 1291, the mayor was assassinated and noble residences in the city were pillaged. Philip IV reimposed order and suppressed the city's charter and the lucrative monopoly on river traffic, but he was quite willing to allow the Rouennais to repurchase their old liberties in 1294. In 1306, he decided to expel the Jewish community of Rouen, which then numbered some five or six thousand citizens.

Primitive XIV Ce. timber framing, rue du Petit Mouton

In 1389, another urban revolt of the underclass broke out, the Harelle. It was part of a widespread rebellion in France that year[6] and was suppressed with the withdrawal of Rouen's charter and river-traffic privileges once more.

For the royal entry of Henry II in Rouen, 1 October 1550.[7]

File:Rouen porcelain mustard cup end of the 17th century arms of AsselindeVillequiers.jpg

Rouen soft-paste porcelain was the first porcelain of France, end of the 17th century.

During the Hundred Years' War, on 19 January 1419, Rouen surrendered to Henry V of England, who annexed Normandy once again to the Plantagenet domains. But Rouen did not go quietly: Alain Blanchard hung English prisoners from the walls, for which he was summarily executed; Canon and Vicar General of Rouen Robert de Livet became a hero for excommunicating the English king, resulting in de Livet's imprisonment for five years in England.

Rouen became the capital city of English power in occupied France and when the Duke of Bedford, John of Lancaster bought Joan of Arc from his ally, the Duke of Burgundy who had been keeping her in jail since May 1430, she was logically sent to this city for Christmas 1430 and after a long trial by a church court, sentenced to be burned at the stake. The sentence was carried out on 30 May 1431 in this city, where most inhabitants supported the Duke of Burgundy, Joan of Arc's royal enemy.

The king of France Charles VII recaptured the town in 1449, 18 years after the death of Joan of Arc and after 30 years of English occupation. In that same year the young Henry VI was crowned king of England and France in Paris before coming to Rouen where he was acclaimed by the crowds.

The Renaissance Period[]

The naval dockyards, where activity had been slowed down by the 100 years war, developed again as did the church of Saint-Maclou which had been started under the English occupation, and was finally finished during the Renaissance period. The nave of the church of Saint Ouen was completed at last, but without the façade flanked by twin towers. The salle des pas-perdus (a sort of waiting room or ante-room) of the present law courts was built during this time. The whole building was built in a flamboyant style into which the first decorative elements typical of the Renaissance style right at the beginning of the 16th century had been incorporated.

At that time Rouen was the most populous city in the realm after Paris, Marseille and Lyon. Rouen was also one of the Norman cradles of the artistic Renaissance, in particular the one under the patronage of the archbishops and financiers of the town.

The economic upturn of the town at the end of the 15th century was mainly due to the cloth industry, but also to the development of the silk industry and metallurgy. The fishermen of Rouen went as far afield as the Baltic to fish for herrings. Salt was imported from Portugal and Guérande. Cloth was sold in Spain which also provided wool, and the Medici family made Rouen into the main port for the resale of Roman alum.

At the beginning of the 16th century Rouen became the main French port through which trade was conducted with Brasil, principally for the import of cloth dyes. By 1500 ten printing presses had been installed in the town following the installation of the first one sixteen years earlier.

The Wars of Religion[]

In the years following 1530, part of the population of Rouen embraced Calvinism. The members of the Reformed Church who represented a quarter to a third of the total population, a significant part but still a minority.

In 1550, King Henri II staged a triumphant entry into Rouen, modeled on the ancient Roman triumph and specifically compared to Pompey's third triumph of 61 BCE at Rome: "No less pleasing and delectable than the third triumph of Pompey... magnificent in riches and abounding in the spoils of foreign nations".[8] It was not enough, however, to long sustain royal authority in the city.

From 1560 onwards tensions rose between the Protestant and Catholic communities, when the Massacre of Vassy set off the first of the French Wars of Religion. On 15 April 1562 the Protestants entered the town hall and ejected the King's personal representative. In May there was an outbreak of Iconoclasm (statue smashing). On 10 May the Catholic members of the town council fled Rouen. The Catholics captured, however, the Fort of Saint Catherine which overlooked the town. Both sides resorted to terror tactics.

At this juncture the Protestant town authorities requested help from Queen Elizabeth I of England. In accordance with the Hampton Court Treaty which they had signed with Condé on 20 September 1562, the English sent troops to support the Protestants, and these occupied Le Havre.

On 26 October 1562 French Royalist troops captured Rouen and pillaged it for three days.

The news of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day reached Rouen at the end of August 1572. Hennequier tried to avoid a massacre of the Protestants by shutting them up in various prisons. But between 17 and 20 September the crowds forced the gates of the prisons and murdered the Protestants that they found inside.

The town was attacked on several occasions by Henry IV, but it resisted, notably during the siege of December 1591 to May 1592, with the help of a Spanish army led by the Duke of Parma (see Siege of Rouen (1591)).

The Classical Age[]

The permanent exchequer of Normandy, which had been installed in Rouen in 1499 by George of Amboise, was transformed into a regional administrative assembly by Francis I in 1515 and up to the time of the Revolution was the administrative centre of the region. It had judicial, legislative and executive powers in Norman affairs and was only subordinate to the Privy Council. It also had power to govern French Canada. The 16th and the 18th centuries brought prosperity to the town through the textile trade and the increased use of the port facilities. In 1703 the Norman Chamber of Commerce was created. Although it did not have a university, Rouen became an important intellectual centre by reason of its reputed schools of higher learning. In 1734, a school of surgery (second only to that of Paris founded in 1724) was founded. In 1758 a new hospital was opened to the West of the town which replaced the old medieval one which had grown too small, and which had been situated on the south side of the cathedral.

The Modern Period[]

During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Rouen was occupied by the Prussians.

During the First World War the British used Rouen as a supply base and there were many military hospitals.

The city was heavily damaged (approximately 45% was destroyed) during World War II: In June 1940 first, when the area between the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Seine river burned for 48 hours, because the Germans did not allow the firemen to come and extinguish the fire. Then, other areas were destroyed between March and August 1944 just before and during the Battle of Normandy, that ended on the left Seine bank of Rouen with the destruction of several regiments, belonging to the German 7th Army. Its cathedral and several significant monuments were partly damaged by Allied bombing. During the German occupation, the German Navy had its headquarters located in a chateau on what is now the Rouen Business School (École Supérieure de Commerce de Rouen).

Main sights[]

Rouen Cathedral

Rouen is known for its Notre Dame cathedral, with its Tour de Beurre (butter tower). The cathedral was the subject of a series of paintings by Claude Monet, some of which are exhibited in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

The Gros Horloge is an astronomical clock dating back to the 16th century, though the movement is considerably older (1389). It is located in the Gros Horloge street.

Other famous structures include Rouen Castle, the Gothic Church of St Maclou (15th century); the Tour Jeanne d'Arc, where Joan of Arc was brought in 1431 to be threatened with torture (contrary to popular belief, she was not imprisoned there); the Church of Saint Ouen (12th–15th century); the Palais de Justice, which was once the seat of the Parlement (French court of law) of Normandy and the Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics which contains a splendid collection of faïence and porcelain for which Rouen was renowned during the 16th to 18th centuries.

Rouen is noted for its surviving half-timbered buildings.

There are many museums in Rouen: Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, an art museum with pictures of well-known painters such as Claude Monet and Géricault; Musée maritime fluvial et portuaire, a museum on the history of the port of Rouen and navigation; Musée des antiquités,[9] an art and history museum with local works from the Bronze Age through the Renaissance; Musée de la céramique, Musée Le Secq des Tournelles...

The Jardin des Plantes de Rouen is a notable botanical garden dating to 1840 in its present form. It was previously owned by Scottish banker John Law and was the site of several historic balloon ascents.

In the centre of the Place du Vieux Marché (the site of Joan of Arc's pyre)[10] is the modern church of Saint Joan of Arc. This is a large, modern structure which dominates the square. The form of the building represents an upturned viking boat and fish shape.[11]

Rouen was also home to the French Grand Prix, hosting the race at the nearby Rouen-Les-Essarts track sporadically between 1952 and 1968. There was a campaign in 1999 by Rouen authorities to obliterate remainders of Rouen's racing past. Today, little remains beyond the public roads that formed the circuit.


The métro

Mainline trains operate from Gare de Rouen-Rive-Droite to Le Havre and Paris, and regional trains to Caen, Dieppe and other local destinations in Normandy. Daily direct trains operate to Amiens and Lille, and direct TGVs (high-speed trains) connect daily with Lyon and Marseille.

City transportation in Rouen consists of a tram and a bus system. The tramway branches into two lines out of a tunnel under the city centre. Rouen is also served by TEOR (Transport Est-Ouest Rouennais) and by buses run in conjunction with the tramway by TCAR (Transports en commun de l'agglomération rouennaise), a subsidiary of Veolia Transport.

Rouen has its own airport, serving major domestic destinations as well as international destinations in Europe.

The Seine is a major axis for maritime cargo links in the Port of Rouen. The Cross-Channel ferry ports of Caen, Le Havre, Dieppe (50 minutes) and Calais, and the Channel Tunnel are within easy driving distance (two and a half hours or less).



Archives department of Seine-Maritime

The University of Rouen, the École Supérieure de Commerce de Rouen (Rouen Business School) and ésitpa (agronomy and agriculture) – all centred or located at nearby Mont-Saint-Aignan, and INSA Rouen and ESIGELEC – both at nearby Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray are schools of higher education located in the Rouen area.

Performing arts[]

The main opera company in Rouen is the Opéra de Rouen Haute Normandie. The company performs in the Théâtre des Arts, 7 rue du Docteur Rambert. The company presents opera, classical and other types of music, both vocal and instrumental, as well as dance performances.[12]


Rouen was the birthplace of:

  • Edward IV (1442–1483), king of England
  • Thomas Aubert (Born 1500's), navigator and one of the first French explorers of the New World
  • Guillaume Guéroult (1507–1569), editor, translator and poet
  • François de Civille (1537–1610), Calvinist's chief under Gabriel, comte de Montgomery
  • Isaac Oliver (c.1560–1617), French-born English portrait miniature painter
  • Guy de la Brosse (1586–1641), botanist and pharmacist
  • Antoine Girard de Saint-Amant (1594–1661), Protestant poet converted to Catholicism
  • Samuel Bochart (1599–1667), Protestant theologian and Orientalist
  • Jean Dubuc (Born 1600's), Great Grandfather of Julien Dubuque (1762–1810, French-Canadian explorer) and founder of Dubuque, Iowa, USA.
  • Pierre Corneille (1606–1684), tragedian
  • Guillaume Couture (1617-1701-04-04), Lay Missionary and diplomat who moved to Quebec around 1640
  • Adrien Auzout (1622–1691), astronomer
  • Thomas Corneille (1625–1709), dramatist, brother of Pierre Corneille
  • Noel Alexandre (1630–1724), theologian and ecclesiastical historian
  • Catherine Primot-Thiéry (1640- ?), Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville's mother, both Canadian explorers
  • Marie Champmeslé (1642–1698), actress
  • René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1643–1687), cleric and explorer
  • Gabriel Daniel (1649–1728), Jesuit historian
  • Nicolas Lemery (1645–1715), chemist
  • Jean Jouvenet (1647–1717), painter
  • Nicolas Gueudeville (1652–1721), catholic translator, journalist, historian an writer, converted to Protestantism
  • Jacques Basnages (1653–1723), Protestant theologian
  • Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (1657–1757), author, nephew of Pierre Corneille
  • Pierre Antoine Motteux (1663–1718), French born English translator and dramatist
  • Pierre Dangicourt (1664–1727), mathematician
  • Pierre François le Courayer (1681–1776), Catholic theologian and supporter of the church of England
  • François d'Agincourt (1684–1758), composer, harpsichordist and organist
  • Jean II Restout (1692–1768), painter
  • Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711–1780), novelist, author of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast
  • Jacques-François Blondel (1705–1774), architect, urbanist
  • Marie-Madeleine Hachard (1708–1760), nun at Couvent des Ursulines, founder of a sister monastery in New-Orleans
  • Jacques Duphly (1715–1789), harpsichordist and composer
  • Pierre Levieux (1702–1796), capitaine du navire
  • François-Adrien Boïeldieu (1775–1834), composer, mainly of operas
  • Pierre Louis Dulong (1785–1838), physicist and chemist
  • Théodore Géricault (1791–1824), painter, painted The Raft of the Medusa
  • Armand Carrel (1800–1836), writer
  • Pierre Adolphe Chéruel (1809–1891), historian
  • Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880), novelist, who wrote Madame Bovary
  • Eugène Ketterer (1831–1870), composer and pianist
  • Eugène Caron (1834–1903), opera singer
  • Maurice Leblanc (1864–1941), novelist, creator of the character Arsène Lupin
  • Charles Nicolle (1866–1936), bacteriologist who earned the 1928 Nobel Prize in Medicine
  • Georges Guillain (1876–1961), neurologist
  • Robert Antoine Pinchon (1886–1943), Post-Impressionist painter of the Rouen School, (l'École de Rouen)
  • Marcel Dupré (1886–1971), organist and composer
  • Philippe Étancelin (1896–1981), Grand Prix motor racing
  • Roger Apéry (1916–1994), mathematician
  • Jacques Rivette (born 1928), film director
  • Anny Duperey (born 1947), actress and novelist
  • François Hollande (born 1953), 24th President of the French Republic
  • Élise Lucet (born 1963), journalist
  • Stéphan Caron (born 1966), freestyle swimmer
  • Karin Viard (born 1966), actress
  • Vincent Delerm (born 1976), singer-songwriter, pianist
  • David Trezeguet (born 1977), football striker
  • Nathalie Péchalat (born 1983), ice dancer.
  • Frederic Cissokho, footballer
  • Dominique Lokoli, footballer
  • Ian Mahinmi basketball, player
  • Christophe Mendy, boxer
  • Darnel Situ, footballer
  • Moussa Sylla, basketball player

International relations[]

Twin towns – Sister cities[]

Rouen is twinned with:

In fiction and popular culture[]

Fine art[]

Rouen Cathedral, Full Sunlight, by Claude Monet, 1894.

Rouen Cathedral is the subject of a series of paintings by the Impressionist painter Claude Monet, who painted the same scene at different times of the day. Two paintings are in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; one is in the National Museum of Serbia in Belgrade. The estimated value of one painting is over $40 million.


  • The character Erik, The Opera Ghost of Gaston Leroux's novel The Phantom of the Opera, was supposedly born "in a small town not far from Rouen".[15]
  • Rouen played a major part in the Flaubert novel Madame Bovary.
  • Maupassant, a student of Flaubert, wrote a number of short stories based in and around Rouen.
  • In book two of The Strongbow Saga, the Vikings invade and conquer Ruda, also known as Rouen, and make it their base in Frankia.

The Rouen area is an integral part of the work of French writer Annie Ernaux.

  • May Wedderburn Cannan wrote of Rouen in her 1915 poem on World War I "Rouen".


  • The British rock band Supergrass named their fifth studio album Road to Rouen, punning on an Anglicised pronunciation of the city's name.
  • French band Les Dogs were formed in Rouen in 1973.


The 2000 film The Taste of Others was filmed and set in Rouen. In the 2001 movie A Knight's Tale, the protagonist William Thatcher (played by Heath Ledger) poses as a noble and competes in his first jousting tournament at Rouen.

Computer games[]

  • The game Call of Duty 3 features a map set in Rouen. The map, entitled Rouen, is mainly city and offers fierce city fighting, much like that seen in World War II.
  • In the Soul Calibur series of fighting games, Raphael, a playable character, is explained as being born in Rouen. Interestingly, his fighting style involves an English rapier. His adopted daughter Amy is also from Rouen, having been a street child living there.
  • Rouen appears as an important location to protagonist Alice Elliot in the game Shadow Hearts.
  • The Rouen-Les-Essarts Grand Prix circuit is featured in Grand Prix Legends, Project CARS, and RFactor.
  • The PC adventure game Touché: The Adventures of the Fifth Musketeer starts in Rouen.


Arms of Rouen
The arms of Rouen are blazoned :
Gules, a pascal lamb, haloed and contorny, holding a banner argent charged with a cross Or, and on a chief azure, 3 fleurs de lys Or

This may be rendered, "On a red background a haloed white pascal lamb looking back over its shoulder (contorny) holds a white banner bearing a gold cross; above, a broad blue band across the top bears 3 gold fleurs de lis".
On the front of the "Grand Poste" (rue Jeanne d'Arc), the banner is charged with a leopard (the lion passant seen on Norman and English arms). This was the official seal of Rouen at the beginning of the 12th century, before Normandy was incorporated into Capetian France

See also[]

  • Archbishopric of Rouen
  • Saint Ouen (catholic saint)


  1. ^ Ratu- is not well explained; -macus, magus is a familiar toponymic suffix signifying "plain".
  2. ^ As in Ammianus Marcellinus and the Notitia dignitatum; other variants: Ratomagos (Ptolemy, Geography), Ratomagos (Antonine Itinerary, Tabula Peutingeriana).
  3. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, at "Diocese of Rouen", records that Saint Mellon[ius] was credited with being the first bishop until a Nicaise, linked to Denis of Paris was inserted to precede him: see Diocese of Rouen.
  4. ^ Recorded in the chronicle of Fontenelle Abbey.
  5. ^ With the exception of the tower associated with Joan of Arc, which was restored by Viollet-le-Duc, the castle was destroyed at the end of the fifteenth century, its stones used for other buildings.
  6. ^ See Popular revolt in late medieval Europe for broad context.
  7. ^ Bill Marshall, Cristina Johnston, France and the Americas: culture, politics, and history Volume 3, p. 185
  8. ^ Beard, 31. See 32, Fig. 7 for a contemporary depiction of Henri's "Romanised" procession.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Rouen . . Place du Vieux Marché". Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "Église Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc de Rouen – Wikipédia" (in (French)). 3 September 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  12. ^ Opéra de Rouen Haute Normandie official web site.
  13. ^ "Gdańsk Official Website: 'Miasta partnerskie'" (in Polish & English). 2009 Urząd Miejski w Gdańsku.,62,733.html. Retrieved 11 July 2009. 
  14. ^ "Hanover – Twin Towns" (in German). 2007–2009 – Offizielles Portal der Landeshauptstadt und der Region Hannover in Zusammenarbeit mit Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  15. ^

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