For centuries war has been an almost constant threat to the inhabitants of Northern France. They suffered invasion by tribes from neighbouring lands; then by the Romans and, later, the Vikings. Disputes over claims to the throne of France by England and by Spain gave rise to the Hundred Years War and the Thirty Years War, respectively.
The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 brought about the devastation of strategic towns and the deaths of thousands of soldiers. And the 20th century brought the most devastating wars seen in Europe, with World War I fought over large areas of Northern France, then World War II, with invasion, occupation and battles for liberation.
This history has left a rich legacy of fortified towns, castles, battlefields and war memorials across the region.