1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Autun

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AUTUN, a town of east-central France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Saône-et-Loire, 62 m. S.W., of Dijon on the Paris-Lyon railway to Nevers. Pop. (1906) II,927. Autun is pleasantly situated on the slope of a hill at the foot of which runs the Arroux. Its former greatness is attested by many Roman remains, the chief of which are two well-preserved stone gateways, the Porte d'Arroux and the Porte St André, both pierced with four archways and surmounted by arcades. There are also remains of the old ramparts and aqueducts, of a square tower called the Temple of Janus, of a theatre and of an amphitheatre. A pyramid in the neighbouring village of Couhard was probably a sepulchral monument. The chapel of St Nicolas (12th century) contains many of the remains discovered at Autun. The cathedral of St Lazare, once the chapel attached to the residence of the dukes of Burgundy, is in the highest part of the town. It belongs mainly to the 12th century, but the Gothic central tower and the chapels were added in the 15th century by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy, born at Autun. The chief artistic features of the church are the group of the Last Judgment sculptured on the tympanum above the west door, and the painting by Ingres representing the martyrdom of St Symphorien, which took place at Autun in 179. In the cathedral square stands the fountain of St Lazare, a work of the Renaissance. The hotel Rolin, a house of the 15th century, contains the collections of the "Aeduan literary and scientific society." The hotel de ville, containing a museum of paintings, the law-court and the theatre are modern buildings. Autun is the seat of a bishopric, of tribunals of first instance and of commerce, and has an ecclesiastical seminary, a communal college and a cavalry school. Among the industries of the town are the extraction of oil from the bituminous schist obtained in the neighbourhood, leather manufacture, metal-founding, marble-working, and the manufacture of machinery and furniture. Autun is the commercial centre for a large part of the Morvan, and has considerable trade in timber and cattle.

Autun (Augustodunum) succeeded Bibracte as capital of the Aedui when Gaul was reorganized by Augustus. Under the Romans, it was a flourishing town, covering double its present extent and renowned for its schools of rhetoric. In the succeeding centuries its prosperity drew upon it the attacks of the barbarians, the Saracens and the Normans. The counts of Autun in 880 became dukes of Burgundy, and the town was the residence of the latter till 1276. It was ravaged by the English in 1379, and, in 1591, owing to its support of the League, had to sustain a siege conducted by Marshal Jean d’Aumont, general of Henry IV.

See H. de Fontenay, Autun et ses monuments (Autun, 1889).