Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Laon

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LAON (lä-ong), the chief town of the French department of Aisne; 87 miles N. E. of Paris. Occupying a naturally strong position, it has been a fortress since the 5th century; its citadel is surrounded with ruinous walls. From 515 to 1790 it was the seat of a bishop. The cathedral, a Gothic edifice of the 12th century, and the bishop's palace, now a law-court, still remain. The inhabitants are noted market-gardeners. In the 10th century the city was the place of residence of the Carlovingian kings, and capital of Francia. At Laon, March 9 and 10, 1814, Napoleon I. was repulsed by the allies under Blücher and Bülow; and it surrendered to a German force, Sept. 9, 1870. In the fall of 1914, German forces captured the town and held it until the Allied offensive in the summer of 1918. Pop. about 15,000.