MARNE, a department of north-eastern France, made up from Champagne-Pouilleuse, Remois, Haute-Champagne, Perthois, Tardenois, Bocage and Brie-Pouilleuse, districts formerly belonging to Champagne, and bounded W. by Seine-et-Marne and Aisne, N. by Aisne and Ardennes, E. by Meuse, and S. by HauteMarne and Aube. Pop. (1906), 434,157. Area 3167 sq. m.
About one-half consists of Champagne-Pouilleuse, a monotonous and barren plain covering a bed of chalk 1300 ft. in thickness. On the west and on the east it is commanded by two ranges of hills. The highest point in the department (920 ft.) is in the hill district of Reims, which rises to the south-west of the town of the same name, between the Vesle and the Marne. The lowest level (164 ft.) where the Aisne leaves the department, is not far distant. To the south of the Marne the hills of Reims are continued by the heights of Brie (700 to 800 ft.)- All these belong geologically to the basin of Paris. They slope gently towards the west, but command the plain of Champagne-Pouilleuse by a steep descent on the east. On the farther side of the plain are the heights of Argonne (860 ft.) formed of beds of the Lower Chalk, and covered by forests; they unite the calcareous formations of Langres to the schists of Ardennes, and a continuation of them stretches southward into Perthois and the marshy Bocage. The department belongs entirely to the Seine basin, but includes only 13 miles of that river, in the south-west; it there receives the Aube, which flows for 10 miles within the department. The principal river is the Marne, which runs through the department for 105 miles in a great sweep concave to the south-west. The Aisne enters the department at a point 1 2 miles from its source, and traverses it for 37 miles. Two of its affluents on the left, the Suippes and the Vesle, on which stands Reims, have a longer course from south-east to north-west across the department.
Marne has the temperate climate of the region of the Seine; the annual mean temperature is 50 F., the rainfall about 24 in. Oats, wheat, rye and barley among the cereals, lucerne, sainfoin and clover, and potatoes, mangold-wurzels and sugarbeet are the principal agricultural crops. The raising of sheep of a mixed merino breed and of other stock together with beefarming are profitable. The vineyards, concentrated chiefly round Reims and Epernay, are of high value; the manufacture of the sparkling Champagne wines being a highly important industry, of which Epernay, Reims and Chalons are the chief centres. Several communes supply the more valuable vegetables, such as asparagus, onions, etc. The principal orchard fruits are the apple, plum and cherry. Pine woods are largely planted in Champagne-Pouilleuse. The department produces peat, millstones and chalk.
The woollen industry has brought together in the neighbourhood of Reims establishments for spinning, carding, dyeing and weaving. The materials wrought are flannels, merinoes, tartans, shawls, rugs and fancy articles; the manufacture of woollen and cotton hosiery must also be mentioned. The manufacture of wine-cases, corks, casks and other goods for the wine trade is actively carried on. Marne contains blastfurnaces, iron and copper foundries, and manufactories of agricultural implements. Besides these there are tan-yards, currying and leather-dressing establishments and glassworks, which, with sugar, chemical, whiting and oil works, potteries, flour-mills and breweries, complete the list of the most important industries. Biscuits and gingerbread are a speciality of Reims. The chief imports are wool and coal; the exports are wine, grain, live-stock, stone, whiting, pit-props and woollen stuffs. Communication is afforded chiefly by the river Marne with its canal connexions, and by the Eastern railway. There are five arrondissements those of Chalons (the capital), Epernay, Reims, Ste Menehould and Vitry-le-Francois with 33 cantons and 662 communes. The department belongs partly to the archbishopric of Reims and partly to the see of Chalons. Chalons is the headquarters of the VI. army corps. Its educational centre and court of appeal are at Paris. The principal towns Chalons-sur-Marne, Reims, Epernay and Vitry-le-Francois are separately treated. The towns next in population are Ay (4994) and Sezanne (4504). Other places of interest are Ste Menehould (3348), formerly an important fortress and capital of the Argonne; Montmort with a Renaissance chateau once the property of Sully; Trois-Fontaines with a ruined church of the 12th century and the remains of a Cistercian abbey founded in 1115; and Orbais with an abbey church dating from about 1200.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)