The Pale of Calais (dated, ''Cales'' ; vls|Kales; french: Calaisis) was a territory in what is now France, whose sovereigns were the monarchs of England following the Battle of Crécy in 1346 and the subsequent siege. The hardships endured during that prolonged conflict are the subject of Auguste Rodin's poignant sculpture of 1889, ''The Burghers of Calais''. In 1558, France re-conquered the Pale of Calais through the second Siege of Calais, thus expanding French holdings in Flanders. While English, the province was represented in the Parliament of England by members elected by the Calais constituency. Historically part of Flanders, the Pale was trilingual: English, Dutch, and even French were commonly spoken. A ''Pale'' is a "jurisdiction, area". English “Cales” (now supplanted by French ''Calais),'' derives from ''Caleti,'' an ancient Celtic people who lived along the coast of the English Channel.


Calais was a prize of war won in the Battle of Crécy of 1346 by Edward III of England after a long siege. Its capture gave England not only a key stronghold in the world’s textile trade centered in Flanders, but provided a strategic, defensible military outpost for England to regroup in future wars on the continent; the city's position on the English Channel could be reinforced over the short distance by sea. English sovereignty was confirmed under the Treaty of Brétigny, signed on 8 May 1360, when Edward renounced the throne of France in return for substantial lands, namely Aquitaine and the territory around Calais. By 1453, at the end of the Hundred Years' War, the Pale was the last part of mainland France in English hands. It served successfully as a base of English expeditions; for example in 1492, from it Henry VII launched the Siege of Boulogne. The short trip across the Strait of Dover afforded convenient garrison and supply by sea. However, the lack of natural inland defences necessitated the construction and maintenance of military fortifications, at some expense. Nevertheless, a critical factor in the stability of English government there over the centuries was the rivalry of France and Burgundy, both of which coveted the strategic position of the city; each left it to the English rather than to concede it to each other. Eventually, political strategies shifted at the division of Burgundian territory in the Low Countries between France and Spain and, when Henry VIII suffered setbacks in the Sieges of Boulogne (1544–1546), the approach to Calais opened to the south. Then in 1550 the Crown, in a crisis of royal succession, withdrew from Boulogne. The Pale of Calais remained part of England until unexpectedly lost by Mary I to France in 1558. After secret preparations, 30,000 French troops, led by Francis, Duke of Guise, took the city, which quickly capitulated under the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559). In England, blame was attached to the Queen, entrenching Protestant resolve against her. Although, the loss of the Pale of Calais was a blow to the English economy less than was feared, the retreat of English power was a permanent blot to her reign. Indeed, the chronicler Raphael Holinshead records that a few months later a distraught Mary, lying on her death bed, graphically confided to her family her feelings: “When I am dead and opened, you shall find ‘Calais’ lying in my heart”. Subsequently, the English wool market adjusted and the English textile trade shifted up to the Habsburg Netherlands. During English governance, the weavers of the Pale maintained their output, which industry was a distinctive mark of Flemish culture. At the same time, the Pale performed as an integral part of England in election of its members to Parliament, and as English citizens the Pale sent and received people to and from various parts of the British isles.


400px|right|The English Pale of Cales, ca 1360. The territory of the Pale of Calais comprised the modern French communes of Andres, Ardres, Balinghem, Bonningues-lès-Calais, Calais, Campagne-lès-Guines, Coquelles, Coulogne, Fréthun, Guemps, Guînes, Les Attaques, Hames-Boucres, Hervelinghen, Marck, Nielles-lès-Calais, Nouvelle-Église, Offekerque, Oye-Plage, Peuplingues, Pihen-lès-Guînes, Sangatte, Saint-Pierre (Calais absorbed Saint-Pierre-lès-Calais inhabited with inhabitants in 1885, now southern part of Calais), Saint-Tricat and Vieille-Église. The area of the Pale of Calais is difficult to appraise since the boundaries were ill-defined over swampy land and waterways, which constantly changed. The Pale spread over Gravelines to as far as Wissant, covering about . The French were continually reclaiming small pieces of the territory, particularly in the southwest. Over those wetlands, the territory was roughly divided in low hills on the west and the lower coastlands to the east.

See also

* History of Calais * Calais (constituency) * List of Captains, Lieutenants and Lords Deputies of English Calais * Treasurer of Calais * Hundred Years' War * English overseas possessions * English claims to the French throne * The Pale of Ireland


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