Soissons (swäsôNˈ) [key], city (1990 pop. 32,144), Aisne dept., N France, on the Aisne River. It is an agricultural and industrial center. Soissons was an old Roman town and early episcopal see. Its strategic location has made it the scene of many battles throughout history. Clovis I defeated the Roman legions at Soissons in 486, and the city was the capital of several Merovingian kings (5th–7th cent.). Pepin the Short dethroned Childeric III there in 751; and Robert I, grandfather of Hugh Capet (see Capetians), was killed in battle at Soissons in 923. Throughout the 19th and 20th cent. the city was the scene of warfare, culminating in the German invasion of 1940. Part of the Abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (where Thomas à Becket lived for several years) survives, as does the nearby Abbey of St. Médard, a burial place of Merovingian kings. The Gothic Cathedral of Saint-Gervais and Saint-Protais (12th–13th cent.) has stained-glass windows by Rubens.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.