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TARASCON

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 417 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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TARASCON, a town of south-eastern France, in the department of Bouches-du-Rhone, 62 m. N.W. of Marseilles by rail. Pop. (1906) town, 5447; commune, 8972. Tarascon is situated on the left bank of the Rhone opposite Beaucaire, with which it is connected by a railway bridge and a suspension bridge. The church of St Martha, built in 1187—97 on the ruins of a Roman temple and rebuilt in 1379—1449, has a Gothic spire, and many interesting pictures in the interior. Of the original building there remain a porch, and a side portal flanked by marble columns with capitals like those of St Trophimus at Arles. The former leads to the crypt, where are the tombs of St Martha (1658), Jean de Gossa, governor of Provence under King Rene, and Louis II., king of Provence. The castle, picturesquely situated on a rock, was begun by Count Louis H. in the 14th century and finished by King Rene in the 15th. It contains a turret stair and a chapel entrance, which are charming examples of 15th-century architecture, and fine wooden ceilings. The building is now used as a prison. The hotel-deville dates from the 17th century. The civil court of the arrondissement of Arles is situated at Tarascon, which also possesses a commercial court, and fine cavalry barracks. The so-called Arles sausages are made here, and there is trade in fruit and early vegetables. In Tartarin de Tarascon Alphonse Daudet has satirized the provincial life of Tarascon. Its uneventfulness Galeodes lucasii, an Arachnid of the order Solifugae, commonly but wrongly called tarantula in Egypt. is varied by the fair of Beaucaire, and it used to be the scene of the two fetes of La Tarasque, the latter in celebration of St Martha's deliverance of the town from a legendary monster of that name. King Rene presided in 1469, and grand exhibitions of costume and strange ceremonies take place during the two days of the festival. Tarascon was originally a settlement of the Massaliots, built on an island of the Rhone. The medieval castle, where Pope Urban II. lived in 1096, was built on the ruins of a Roman camp. The inhabitants of Tarascon preserved the municipal institutions granted them by the Romans, and of the absolute power claimed by the counts of Provence they only recognized the rights of sovereignty. Tarascon played a bloody part in the White Terror of 1815,
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