1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Melun

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MELUN, a town of northern France, capital of the department of Seine-et-Marne, situated north of the forest of Fortainebleau, 28 m. S.S.E. of Paris by rail. Pop. (1906), 11,219. The town is divided into three parts by the Seine. The principal portion lies on the slope of a hill on the right bank; on the left bank is the most modern quarter, while the old Roman town occupies an island in the river. On the island stands the Romanesque church of Notre-Dame (11th and 12th centuries), formerly part of a nunnery, the site of which is occupied by a prison. The other public buildings are on the right bank of the river. Of these, the most striking is the church of St Aspais, an irregularly shaped structure of the 15th and 16th centuries, on the apse of which may be seen a modern medallion in bronze, the work of the sculptor H. Chapu, representing Joan of Arc as the liberator of Melun. The hôtel-de-ville (1847)—in the construction of which an old mansion and turret have been utilized—and the tower of St Bartholomew of the 16th and 18th centuries are also of interest. In the courtyard of the former there is a monument to Jacques Amyot, the translator of Plutarch, who was born at Melun in 1513. Among the rich estates in the neighbourhood the most remarkable is the magnificent château of Vaux-le-Vicomte, which belonged to Nicholas Fouquet, intendant of finances under Louis XIV. Melun is a market for grain and farm produce, and its industries include brewing, tanning, distilling, sawing and the manufacture of agricultural implements, clogs, fur garments, lime, cement and plaster.

In Caesar’s Gallic wars Melun (Melodunum) was taken by his lieutenant Labienus, in order to facilitate the attack of Lutetia by the right bank of the Seine. It was pillaged by the Normans, and afterwards became the favourite residence of the first kings of the race of Capet; Robert and Philip I. both died here. In 1359 Melun was given up by Jeanne of Navarre to her brother, Charles the Bad, but was retaken by the dauphin Charles and Bertrand Duguesclin. In 1420 it made a heroic defence against Henry V. of England and his ally the duke of Burgundy. Ten years later the people of Melun, with the help of Joan of Arc, drove out the English. It was occupied by the League in 1589, and retaken by Henry IV. in the following year.