ARDENNES, DEPARTMENT, a department of France on the N.E. frontier, deriving its name from that of the forest, and formed in 1790 from parts of Champagne, Picardy and Hainault. Pop. (1906) 317,505. Area, 2028 sq. m. It is bounded N. and N.E. by Belgium, E. by the department of Meuse, S. by that of Marne, and W. by that of Aisne. In shape it is quadrilateral with a cape-like prolongation into Belgium on the north. The slope of the department is from north-east to south-west, though its longest river, the Meuse, entering it in the south-east, pursues a winding course of 111 m. in a north-westerly, and afterwards through deep gorges in a northerly, direction. The other principal river, the Aisne, crosses the southern border and takes a northerly, then a westerly course, separating the region known as Champagne Pouilleuse from the more elevated plateau of Argonne which forms the central zone of the department and stretches to the left bank of the Meuse. The highest points of the department are found in the wooded highlands of the Ardennes which, with an altitude varying between 980 and 1640 ft., cover the north and north-east. The climate is comparatively mild in the south-west, but becomes colder and more rainy towards the north and north-east. Agriculture is carried on to most advantage in the Champagne and Argonne. Wheat and oats are the predominant cereals. Potatoes, rye, lucerne and other kinds of forage are also important crops. Pasturage is found chiefly on the banks of the Aisne and Meuse and on the plateau of Rocroi in the north. Horse-raising is carried on in the neighbourhood of Buzancy in the south, and at Bourg-Fièele in the north. Fruit-growing is confined to the west and central districts. The working of slate is very important, especially in the neighbourhood of Fumay, and quarries producing freestone, lime-stone and other minerals are found in several places. Flour-mills, saw-mills, sugar-works, distilleries and leather-works are scattered over the department, but iron-founding and various branches of metal-working which are active along the valley of the Meuse (Nouzon, etc.) are the chief industries. To these may be added wool-weaving, centred at Sedan, and minor industries such as the manufacture of basket-work, wooden shoes, etc. Coal and raw wool are prominent imports, while iron goods, cloth, timber, live-stock, alcohol and the products of the soil are exported. Various branches of the Eastern railway traverse the department. The Meuse is canalized within the department, and the Canal des Ardennes, uniting that river with the Aisne, and the lateral canal of the Aisne are together about 65 m. long. Ardennes is divided into five arrondissements: Mézières, Rocroi, Rethel, Vouziers and Sedan, with 31 cantons and 503 communes. The department forms part of the ecclesiastical province of Reims and of the circumscriptions of the appeal-court of Nancy and the VI. army corps. In educational matters, it is included in the academic (educational area) of Lille. Mézières, the capital, Charleville, Rocroi, Sedan and Rethel are the chief towns. Outside them its finest examples of architecture are the churches of Mouzon (13th century) and Vouziers (15th century).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)