An artistic rendering of the 1346 Siege of Calais, which resulted in an English victory.
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Queen Mary, also known as Bloody Mary, the oldest daughter of Henry VIII and the half-sister of Queen Elizabeth, was heartbroken when she received the news, in 1558, that the French had recaptured Calais. “When I am dead and opened,” she proclaimed, “you will find Calais written on my heart.”

The history of the port—now a flashpoint for Europe’s migrant crisis—tells the story of the relationship between Britain and France. Calais is the French port closest to England and, since 1994, the site of the French entrance to the Chunnel, the tunnel linking the two countries under the English Channel. In prehistoric times, Calais was a place of little consequence. But with the construction of a land bridge linking England to the continent in approximately 6500 BC, Calais became a critical site for trade and invasion. Indeed, its recorded history reaches back to the Roman Empire, when Caesar traveled through

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