Cambrai, formerly Cambray and historically in English Camerick or Camericke, is a commune in the Nord department and in the Hauts-de-France region of France on the Scheldt river, which is known locally as the Escaut river.
A sub-prefecture of the department, Cambrai is a town which had 32,558 inhabitants in 2017. It is in the heart of the urban unit of Cambrai which, with 46,897 inhabitants, ranks as 7th largest of the department. Its urban area, a more extensive range, included 66,177 inhabitants in 2017. With Lille and the towns of the former Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin, it is also part of the Metropolitan area of Lille which has more than 3.8 million inhabitants.
Towards the end of the Roman Empire, Cambrai replaced Bavay as the "capital" of the land of the Nervii. At the beginning of the Merovingian era, Cambrai became the seat of an immense archdiocese covering all the right bank of the Scheldt and the centre of a small ecclesiastical principality, roughly coinciding with the shire of Brabant, including the central part of the Low Countries. The bishopric had some limited secular power and depended on the Holy Roman Empire until annexation to France in 1678.
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