The city of Chalons-sur-Marne is situated in the middle of the broad arc of champagne crayeuse, and can trace its origins back to Roman times when it was an important centre of administration and communications. The town of Sainte-Menehould is located about 40 km northeast of Chalons and 66 km southeast of Reims. Sainte-Menehould seems to have been a relatively early area of Huguenot activity in Champagne. The new city of Vitry-le-Francois, as it would be called after its founder, was also designed as a larger town than the one it replaced. The government of Vitry-le-Francois was very simple: there were several governors, closely supervised by the royal officers. The town of Saint-Dizier lies on the right bank of the river Marne, midway between Vitry-le-Francois and Joinville, about 30 km from each. In the thirteenth century, Chaumont was absorbed into the County of Champagne, against much opposition from the bishop of Langres.