Dieppe is a seaport, fishing harbor, and fashionable watering-place, situated on the English Channel at the mouth of the Arques, between two ranges of chalk cliffs. The harbor, whence the cross-channel boats ply to Newhaven, is commodious and deep.
Dieppe probably originated in the Gaulish and Roman settlement of the Cite de Limes. It was colonized in the 10th century by Norse adventurers, to whom it owes its name (in allusion to the depth of the harbor). The earliest castle here was built by Henry II of England. Dieppe, like St-Malo, was the home of many corsairs and bold adventurers, whose exploits included the pillaging of Southampton (1339), a blockade of Lisbon (1530), and voyages of discovery to every shore from Iceland to the Gold Coast.
Under Francis I, the port became the most flourishing in France, and the local manufacture of carved ivory from imported tusks dated from this period. Its large Protestant population suffered by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and in 1694 the town was ruthlessly bombarded by the English fleet, which was returning from an unsuccessful attack on Brest, so that it had to be almost entirely rebuilt. In 1870 and 1871, it was held by the Prussians for seven months. The harbor was enlarged between 1914 and 1918. Among celebrated Dieppois are Jean Ango (1480-1551), the corsair and merchant prince; Jean Cousin, one of the claimants to the discovery of Brazil (1488); and Abraham Duquesne (1610-1688), the Calvinist admiral who vanquished De Ruyter of Sicily.
Normandy (French for Normandie), the ancient duchy and province of France, now represented by the departments of the Seine-Inferieure, Eure, Orne, Calvados, and the Manche, owed its early name of Terra Northmannorum or Northmannia to its occupation in the early part of the 10th century by the Norsemen (Normands). It is one of the most attractive regions of France, with a varied landscape of hedgerows, orchards, cornfields, and pastures, recalling England. The coast-line is formed by white chalk cliffs, and in the winding dales of the interior are many remains of medieval architecture, village spires and venerable castles and abbeys, some of which were founded in the time of the conquerors of England. The most picturesque portion is the lower basin of the Seine. Since the time of their Scandinavian ancestors, whose regular trade was piracy, the Normans have been supposed to possess a somewhat grasping character; and they have been styled ‘the lawyers of France’ from their fondness for legal forms and processes. At the same time they are tenacious in their French patriotism. Butter and cheese, the staple products of Normandy, are very largely exported to England.