HAM, a small town of northern France, in the department of Somme, 36 m. E.S.E. of Amiens on the Northern railway between that city and Laon. Pop. (1906), 2957. It stands on the Somme in a marshy district where market-gardening is carried on. From the 9th century onwards it appears as the seat of a lordship which, after the extinction of its hereditary line, passed in succession to the houses of Coucy, Enghien, Luxembourg, Rohan, Vendome and Navarre, and was finally united to the French crown on the accession of Henry IV. Notre-Dame, the church of an abbey of canons regular of St Augustin, dates from the 12th and 13th centuries, but in 1760 all the inflammable portions of the building were destroyed by a conflagration caused by lightning, and a process of restoration was subsequently carried out. Of special note are the bas-reliefs of the nave and choir, executed in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the crypt of the 12th century, which contains the sepulchral effigies of Odo IV. of Ham and his wife Isabella of Bethencourt. The castle, founded before the 10th century, was rebuilt early in the 13th, and extended in the 14th; its present appearance is mainly due to the constable Louis of Luxembourg, count of St Pol, who between 1436 and 1470 not only furnished it with outworks, but gave such a thickness to the towers and curtains, and more especially to the great tower or donjon which still bears his motto Man Myeidx, that the great engineer and architect Viollet-le-Duc considered them, even in the 19th century, capable of resisting artillery. It forms a rectangle 395 ft. long by 263 ft. broad, with a round tower at each angle and two square towers protecting the curtains. The eastern and western sides are each defended by a demi-lune. The Constable's Tower, for so the great tower is usually called in memory of St Pol, has a height of about 100 ft., and the thickness of the walls is 36 ft. ; the interior is occupied by three large hexagonal chambers in as many stories. The castle of Ham, which now serves as barracks, has frequently been used as a state prison both in ancient and modern times, and the list of those who have sojourned there is an interesting one, including as it does Joan of Arc, Louis of Bourbon, the ministers of Charles X., Louis Napoleon, and Generals Cavaignac and Lamoriciere. Louis Napoleon was there for six years, and at last effected his escape in the disguise of a workman. During 1870-1871 Ham was several times captured and recaptured by the belligerents. A statue commemorates the birth in the town of General Foy (1775-1825).
See J. G. Cappot, Le ChAteau de Ham (Paris, 1842) ; and Ch. Gomart, Ham, son chdteau et ses prisonniers (Ham, 1864).
1 A. Jeremias, Das A.T. im Lichte des alien Orients, p. 145, holds that it represents the situation in the 8th century B.C.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)