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LES BAUX

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 488 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LES BAUX, a village of south-eastern France, in the department of Bouches-du-Rhone, 11 m. N.E. of Arles by road. Pop. (Igoe) III. Les Baux, which in the middle ages was a flourishing town, is now almost deserted. Apart from a few inhabited dwellings, it consists of an assemblage of ruined towers, fallen walls and other debris, which cover the slope of a hill crowned by the remains of a huge chateau, once the seat of a celebrated "court of love." The ramparts, a medieval church, the chateau, parts of which date to the Ilth century, and many of the dwellings are, in great part, hollowed out of the white friable limestone on History.—Although the position of Lesbos near the old-established trade-route to the Hellespont marks it out as an important site even in pre-historic days, no evidence on the early condition of the island is as yet obtainable, beyond the Greek tradition which represented it at the time of the Trojan War as inhabited by an original stock of Pelasgi and an immigrant population of Ionians. In historic times it was peopled by an " Aeolian " race who reckoned Boeotia as their motherland and claimed to have migrated about 1050 B.c.; its principal nobles traced their pedigree to Orestes, son of Agamemnon. Lesbos was the most prominent of Aeolian settlements, and indeed played a large part in the early development of Greek life. Its commercial activity is attested by several colonies in Thrace and the Troad, and by the participation of its traders in the settlement of Naucratis in Egypt; hence also the town of Mytilene, by virtue of its good harbour, became the political capital of the island. The climax of its prosperity was reached about 600 B.C., when a citizen named Pittacus was appointed as aesymnetes (dictator) to adjust the balance between the governing nobility and the insurgent commons and by his wise administration and legislation won a place among the Seven Sages of Greece. These years also constitute the golden age of Lesbian culture. The lyric poetry of Greece, which owed much to two Lesbians of the 7th century, the musician Terpander and the dithyrambist Arion, attained the standard of classical excellence under Pittacus' contemporaries Alcaeus and Sappho. In the 6th century the importance of the island declined, partly through a protracted and unsuccessful struggle with Athens for the possession of Sigeum near the Hellespont, partly through a crushing naval defeat inflicted by Polycrates of Samos (about 55o). The Lesbians readily submitted to Persia after the fall of Croesus of Lydia, and although hatred of their tyrant Coes, a Persian protege, drove them to take part in the Ionic revolt (499-493), they made little use of their large navy and displayed poor spirit at the decisive battle of Lade. In the 5th century Lesbos for a long time remained a privileged member of the Delian League (q.v.), with full rights of self-administration, and under the sole obligation of assisting Athens with naval contingents. Nevertheless at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War the ruling oligarchy of Mytilene forced on a revolt, which was ended after a two years' siege of that town (429-427). The Athenians, who had intended to punish the rebels by a wholesale execution, contented themselves with killing the ringleaders, confiscating the land and establishing a garrison. In the later years of the war Lesbos was repeatedly attacked by the Peloponnesians, and in 405 the harbour of Mytilene was the scene of a battle between the admirals Catlicratidas and Conon. In 389 most of the island was recovered for the Athenians by Thrasybulus; in 377 it joined the Second Delian League, and remained through-out a loyal member, although in the second half of the century the dominant democracy was for a while supplanted by a tyranny. In 334 Lesbos served as a base for the Persian admiral Memnon against Alexander the Great. During the Third Macedonian War the Lesbians sided with Perseus against Rome; similarly in 88 they became eager allies of 1Vlithradates VI. of Pontus, and Mytilene stood a protracted siege on his behalf. This town, nevertheless, was raised by Pompey to the status of a free community, thanks no doubt to his confidant Theophanes, a native of Mytilene. Of the other towns on the island, Antissa, Eresus and Pyrrha possess no separate history. Methymna in the 5th and 4th centuries sometimes figures as a rival of Mytilene, with an independent policy. Among the distinguished Lesbians, in addition to those cited, may be mentioned the cyclic poet Lesches, the historian Hellanicus and the philosophers Theophrastus and Cratippus. During the Byzantine, age the island, which now assumes the name of Mytilene, continued to flourish. In 1091 it fell for a while into the hands of the Seijuks, and in the following century was repeatedly occupied by the Venetians. In 1224 it was recovered by the Byzantine emperors, who in 1354 gave it as a dowry to the Genoese family Gattilusio. After prospering under which they stand. Here and there may be found houses preserving carved facades of Renaissance workmanship. Les Baux has given its name to the reddish rock (bauxite) which is plentiful in the neighbourhood and from which aluminium is obtained. In the middle ages Les Baux was the seat of a powerful family which owned the Terre Baussenques, extensive domains in Provence and Dauphine. The influence of the seigneurs de Baux in Provence declined before the power of the house of Anjou, to which they abandoned many of their possessions. In 1632 the chateau and the ramparts were dismantled.
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