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Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 287 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ORLEANS, a city of north central France, chief town of the department of Loiret, on the right bank of the Loire, 77 M. S.S.W. of Paris by rail. Pop. (1906), town, 57,544; commune, 68,614. At Les Aubrais, a mile to the north, is one of the chief railway junctions in the country. Besides the Paris and Orleans railway, which there divides into two main lines—a western to Nantes and Bordeaux via Tours, and a southern to Bourges and Toulouse via Vierzon—branches leave Les Aubrais eastwards for Pithiviers, Chalons-sur-Marne and Gien, north-west for Cha.teaudun and Rouen. The whole town of Orleans is clustered together on the right bank of the river and .surrounded by fine boulevards, beyond which it sends out suburbs along the various roads. It is connected with the suburb of St Marceau on the left bank by a handsome stone bridge of nine arches, erected in the 18th century. Farther up is the railway bridge. The river is canalized on the right, and serves as a continuation of the Orleans Canal, which unites the Loire with the Seine by the canal of the Loing. Owing to its position on the northernmost point of the Loire Orleans has long been the centre of communication between the Loire basin and Paris. The chief interest of the place lies in its public buildings and the historical events of which it has been the scene. Proceeding from the railway station to the bridge over the Loire, the visitor crosses Orleans from north to south and passes through the Place du Martroi, the heart of the city. In the middle of the square stands an equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, in bronze, resting on a granite pedestal surrounded by bas-reliefs representing the leading episodes in her life. In 1855 it took the place of an older statue executed in the beginning of the century, which was then transferred to the left bank of the Loire at the end of the bridge, a few paces from' the spot where a simple cross marks the site of the Fort des Tourelles captured by Joan of Arc in 1429. From the Place du Martroi, the Rue Jeanne d'Arc leads to the cathedral of Ste Croix. This church, begun in 1287, was burned by the Huguenots in 1567 before its completion. Henry IV., in 16o1, laid the first stone of the new structure, the building of which continued until 1829. It consists of a vestibule, a nave with double aisles, a corresponding choir, a transept and an apse. Its length is 472 ft., its width at the transept 220 ft. and the height of the central vaults 112 ft. The west front has two flat-topped towers, each of three storeys, of which the first is square, the second octagonal and the third cylindrical. The whole front is Gothic, but was designed and constructed in the 18th century and exhibits all the defects of the period, though its proportions are impressive. A central spire (19th century) 328 ft. high, on the other hand, recalls the pure Gothic style of the 13th century. In the interior the choir chapels and the apse, dating from the original erection of the building, and the fine modern tomb of Mgr. F. A. P. Dupanloup, bishop from 1849 to 1878, are worthy of note. In the episcopal palace and the higher seminary are several remarkable pictures and pieces of wood-carving; and the latter building has a crypt of the 9th century, belonging to the church of St Avit demolished in 1428. The church of St Aignan consists of a transept and choir of the second half of the 15th century; it contains in a gilded and carved wooden shrine the remains of its patron saint, who occupied the see of Orleans at the time of Attila's invasion. The crypt dates from the 9th to the beginning of the I.Ith century. The once beautiful sculpture of the exterior has been altogether ruined; the interior has been restored, but not in keeping with the original style. A third church, St Euverte, dedicated to one of the oldest bishops of Orleans (d. 391), is an early Gothic building dating from the 13th, completely restored in the 15th century. St Pierre-le-Puellier dates in its oldest portions from the loth or even the 9th century. To the west of the Rue Royale stand the church of St Paul, whose facade and isolated tower both bear fine features of Renaissance work, and Notre-Dame de Recouvrance, rebuilt between 1517 and 1519 in the Renaissance style and dedicated to the memory of the deliverance of the city. The hotel de ville, built under Francis I. and Henry II. and restored in the 19th century, was formerly the residence of the governors of Orleans, and was occupied by the kings and queens of France from Francis II. to Henry IV. The front of the building, with its different coloured bricks, its balconies sup-ported by caryatides attributed to jean Goujon, its gable-ends and its windows, recalls the Flemish style. There are several niches with statues. Beneath, between the double flight of steps leading up to the entrance, stands a bronze reproduction of the statue of Joan of Arc, a masterpiece of the princess Mary of Orleans, preserved in the Versailles museum. The richly-decorated apartments of the first storey contain paintings, interesting chimneys, and a bronze statuette (also by the princess Mary) representing Joan of Arc mounted on a caparisoned horse and clothed in the garb of the knights of the 15th century. The great hall in which it is placed also possesses a chimney decorated with three bas-reliefs of Domremy, Orleans and Reims, all associated with her life. The historical museum at Orleans is one of the most interesting of provincial collections, the numismatic, medieval and Renaissance departments, and the collection of ancient vases being of great value. The city also possesses a separate picture gallery, a sculpture gallery and a natural history museum, which are established in the former had de ville, a Renaissance building of the latter half of the 15th century. The public library comprises among its manuscripts a number dating from the 7th century, and obtained in most cases from St Benoit on the Loire. The general hospital is incorporated with the HOtel Dieu, and forms one of the finest institutions of the kind in France. The salle des fetes, formerly the corn-market, stands within a vast cloister formed by 15th-century arcades, once belonging to the old cemetery. The salle des Theses (1411) of the university is the meeting-place of the Archaeological Society of the city. Among the old private houses numerous at Orleans, that of Agnes Sorel (15th and 16th century), which contains a large collection of objects and works of art relating to Joan of Arc, that of Francis I., of the first half of the 16th century, that occupied by Joan of Arc during the siege of 1429, and that known as the house of Diane de Poitiers (16th century), which contains the historical museum, are of special interest. The hotel de la Vieille-Intendance, built in the 15th and 16th centuries, served as residence of the intendants of Orleans in later times. The " White Tower " is the last representative of the towers rendered famous by the siege. A statue to the jurisconsult, R. J. Pothier (1699-1772), one of the most illustrious of the natives of Orleans, stands in front of the hotel de ville. The anniversary of the raising of the siege in 2429 by Joan of Arc is celebrated every year with great pomp. After the English hadretired, the popular enthusiasm improvised a procession, which marched with singing of hymns from the cathedral to St Paul, and the ceremony is still repeated on the 8th of May by the clergy and the civil and military functionaries. Orleans is the seat of a bishopric, a prefect, a court of appeal, and a court of assizes and headquarters of the V. army corps. There are tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a board of trade-arbitration, a chamber of commerce and a branch of the Bank of France; and training colleges for both sexes, a lycee for boys, a technical school and an ecclesiastical seminary. The more important industries of the town are the manufacture of tobacco (by the state), blankets, hairpins, vinegar, machinery, agricultural implements, hosiery, tools and ironware, and the preparation of preserved vegetables. Wine, wool, grain and live stock are the commercial staples of the city, round which there are important nurseries. The site of Orleans must have been occupied very early in history by a trading post for commerce between northern and central and southern Gaul. At the time of the Roman conquest the town was known as Genabum, and was the starting-point of the great revolt against Julius Caesar in 52 B.C. In the 5th century it had taken the name Aurelianum from either Marcus Aurelius or Aurelian. It was vainly besieged in 451 by Attila, who was awed by the intercession of its bishop, St Aignan, and finally driven off by the patrician Aetius. Odoacer and his Saxons also failed to take it in 471, but in 498 it fell into the hands of Clovis, who in 511 held here the first ecclesiastical council assembled in France. The dignity which it then obtained, of being the capital of a separate kingdom, was lost by its union with that of Paris in 613. In the loth century the town was given in fief to the counts of Paris, who in 987 ousted the Carolingian line from the throne of France. In 999 a great fire devastated the town. Orleans remained during all the medieval period one of the first cities of the French monarchy; several of the kings dwelt within its walls, or were consecrated in its cathedral; it had a royal mint, was the seat of councils, and obtained for its schools the name of university (23o9), and for its soldiery an equal standing with those of Paris. Philip, fifth son of Philip VI., was the first of the dukes of Orleans. After the assassination of his successor Louis by Jean Sans-Peur, duke of Burgundy (1407), the people of Orleans sided resolutely with the Armagnacs, and in this way brought upon themselves the attacks of the Burgundians and the English. Joan of Arc, having entered the beleaguered city on the 29th of April 1429, effected the raising of the siege by means of an attack on the 7th of May on the Fort des Tourelles, in the course of which she was wounded. Early in the 16th century the town became a centre of Protestantism. After the Amboise conspiracy (156o) the states-general were convoked at Orleans, where Francis II. died. In 1562 it became the headquarters of Louis I. of Bourbon, prince of Conde, the Protestant commander-in-chief. In 1563 Francis, duke of Guise, laid siege to it, and had captured the te"te-du-pont on the left bank of the Loire when he was assassinated. Orleans was surrendered to the king, who had its fortifications razed. It was held by the Huguenots from 1567 to 1568. The St Bartholomew massacre there in 1572 lasted a whole week. It was given as a lieu de sfiret to the League under Henry III., but surrendered to Henry IV. in person in 1594. During the Revolution the city suffered from the sanguinary excesses of Bertrand Barere and Collot d'Herbois. It was occupied by the Prussians in 1815 and in 187o, the latter campaign being discussed below. See E. Bimbenet, Histoire de la ville d'Orleans (Orleans, 1884-1888).
End of Article: ORLEANS

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