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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 484 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LERIDA, the capital of the Spanish province of Lerida, on the river Segre and the Barcelona-Saragossa and Lerida-Tarragona railways. Pop. (1goo) 21,432. The older parts of the city, on the right bank of the river, are a maze of narrow and crooked streets, surrounded by ruined walls and a moat, and commanded by the ancient citadel, which stands on a height overlooking the plains of Noguera on the north and of Urgel on the south. On the left bank, connected with the older quarters by a fine stone bridge and an iron railway bridge, are the suburbs, laid out after 188o in broad and regular avenues of modern houses. The old cathedral, last used for public worship in 1707, is a very interesting late Romanesque building, with Gothic and Mauresque additions; but the interior was much defaced by its conversion into barracks after 1717. It was founded in 1203 by Pedro II. of Aragon, and consecrated in 1278. The fine octagonal belfry was built early in the 15th century. A second cathedral, with a Corinthian facade, was completed in 1781. The church of San Lorenzo (127o–1300) is noteworthy for the beautiful tracery of its Gothic windows; its nave is said to have been a Roman temple, converted by the Moors into a mosque and by Ramon Berenguer IV., last count of Barcelona, into a church. Other interesting buildings are the Romanesque town hall, founded in the 13th century but several times restored, the bishop's palace and the military hospital, formerly a convent. The museum contains a good collection of Roman and Romanesque antiquities; and there are a school for teachers, a theological seminary and academies of literature and science. Leather, paper, glass, silk, linen and cloth are manufactured in the city, which has also some trade in agricultural produce. Lerida is the Ilerda of the Romans, and was the capital of the people whom they called Ilerdenses (Pliny) or Ilergetes (Ptolemy). By situation the key of Catalonia and Aragon, it was from a very early period an important military station. In the Punic Wars it sided with the Carthaginians and suffered much from the Roman arms. In its immediate neighbourhood Hanno was defeated by Scipio in 216 B.C., and it afterwards became famous as the scene of Caesar's arduous struggle with Pompey's generals Afranius and Petreius in the first year of the civil war (49 B.C.). It was already a municipium in the time of Augustus, and enjoyed great prosperity under later emperors. Under the Visigoths it became an episcopal see, and at least one ecclesiastical council is recorded to have met here (in 546). Under the Moors Lareda became one of the principal cities of the province of Saragossa; it became tributary to the Franks in 793, but was reconquered in 797. In 1149 it fell into the hands of Ramon Berenguer IV. In modern times it has come through numerous sieges, having been taken by the French in November 1707 during the War of Succession, and again in 181o. In 1300 James II. of Aragon founded a university at Lerida, which achieved some repute in its day, but was suppressed in 1717, when the university of Cervera was founded.
End of Article: LERIDA

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