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BRIANCON

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Originally appearing in Volume V04, Page 515 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BRIANCON, a strongly fortified town in the department of Hautes-Alpes in S.E. France. It is built at a height of 4334 ft. on a plateau which dominates the junction of the Durance with the Guisane. The town itself is formed of very steep and narrow, though picturesque streets. As it lies at the foot of the descent from the Mont Genevre Pass, giving access to Turin, a great number of fortifications have been constructed on the heights around Briancon, especially towards the east. The Fort Janus is no less than 4000 ft. above the town. The parish church, with its two towers, was built 1703–1726, and occupies a very conspicuous position. The Pont d'Asfeld, E. of the town, was built in 1734, and forms an arch of 131 ft. span, thrown at a height of 184 ft. across the Durance. The modern town extends in the plain at the S.W. foot of the plateau on which the old town is built and forms the suburb of Ste Catherine, with the railway station, and an important silk-weaving factory. Briancon is 512 M. by rail from Gap. The commune had a civil population in 1906 of 4883 (urban population 3130), while the permanent garrison was 264r--in all /524 inhabitants. Briancon was the Brigantium of the Romans and formed part of the kingdom of King Cottius. About 1040 it came into the hands of the counts of Albon (later dauphins of the Viennois) and thenceforth shared the fate of the Dauphine. The Brianconnais included not merely the upper valley of the Durance (with those of its affluents, the Gyronde and the Guil), but also the valley of the Dora Riparia (Cesanne, Oulx, Bardonneche and Exilles), and that of the Chisone (Fenestrelles, Perouse; Pragelas)—these glens all lying on the eastern slope of the chain of the Alps. But by the treaty of Utrecht (1713) all these valleys were handed over to Savoy in exchange for that' of Barcelonnette, on the west slope of the Alps. In 1815 Briancon successfully withstood a siege of three months at the hands of the Allies, a feat which is commemorated by an inscription on one of its gates, Le passe repond de l'avenir. (W. A. B. C.)
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