[eyn; Fr. en]
Aisne, department (1990 pop. 537,600), NE France, in Île-de-France, Picardy, and Champagne, touching the Belgian border. Laon is the capital.
Aisne (ɛn) is a department in the northern part of France named after the Aisne River.


Aisne is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Île-de-France, Picardie, and Champagne.

Most of the old-growth forests in the area were destroyed during battles in World War I. The French offensive against the Chemin des Dames in spring 1917 is sometimes referred to as the Second Battle of the Aisne.


Aisne borders the Ardennes Forest and Belgium to the northeast. The Aisne River crosses the area from east to west, where it joins the Oise River. The landscape is dominated by masses of rock which often have steep flanks. These rocks appear all over the region, but the most impressive examples are at Laon and the Chemin des Dames ridge.

The principal cities in Aisne are :

See also: List of the communes of the Aisne department.


There is an average of 500 to 750 mm precipitation annually.


Agriculture dominates the economy, especially cereal crops. Beet sugar is one of the most important industrial crops of the area. Silk, cotton, and wool weaving flourish in Saint-Quentin and other towns. Saint-Gobain is known for its production of mirrors, which started in the 17th century. Guise is the agricultural centre of the northern area of Aisne.


During World War I a number of significant architectural monuments were destroyed. Of the buildings that survived, the medieval churches in Laon, Braine, and Urcel are the most significant. The ruined castle of La Ferté-Milon escaped further damage during the war. Of castles that survived, some were used as prison; as the Castle of Vadancourt, near Saint-Quentin (500 prisonners ) (see Castle of Vadancourt )

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