1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Angers
ANGERS, a city of western France, capital of the department of Maine-et-Loire, 191 m. S.W. of Paris by the Western railway to Nantes. Pop. (1906) 73,585. It occupies rising ground on both banks of the Maine, which are united by three bridges. The surrounding district is famous for its flourishing nurseries and market gardens. Pierced with wide, straight streets, well provided with public gardens, and surrounded by ample, tree-lined boulevards, beyond which lie new suburbs, Angers is one of the pleasantest towns in France. Of its numerous medieval buildings the most important is the cathedral of St. Maurice, dating in the main from the 12th and 13th centuries. Between the two flanking towers of the west façade, the spires of which are of the 16th century, rises a central tower of the same period. The most prominent feature of the façade is the series of eight warriors carved on the base of this tower. The vaulting of the nave takes the form of a series of cupolas, and that of the choir and transept is similar. The chief treasures of the church are its rich stained glass (12th, 13th and 15th centuries) and valuable tapestry (14th to 18th centuries). The bishop’s palace which adjoins the cathedral contains a fine synodal hall of the 12th century. Of the other churches of Angers, the principal are St. Serge, an abbey-church of the 12th and 15th centuries, and La Trinité (12th century). The prefecture occupies the buildings of the famous abbey of St. Aubin; in its courtyard are elaborately sculptured arcades of the 11th and 12th centuries, from which period dates the tower, the only survival of the splendid abbey-church. Ruins of the old churches of Toussaint (13th century) and Notre-Dame du Ronceray (11th century) are also to be seen. The castle of Angers, an imposing building girt with towers and a moat, dates from the 13th century and is now used as an armoury. The ancient hospital of St. Jean (12th century) is occupied by an archaeological museum; and the Logis Barrault, a mansion built about 1500, contains the public library, the municipal museum, which has a large collection of pictures and sculptures, and the Musée David, containing works by the famous sculptor David d’Angers, who was a native of the town. One of his masterpieces, a bronze statue of René of Anjou, stands close by the castle. The Hôtel de Pincé or d’Anjou (1523–1530) is the finest of the stone mansions of Angers; there are also many curious wooden houses of the 15th and 16th centuries. The palais de justice, the Catholic institute, a fine theatre, and a hospital with 1500 beds are the more remarkable of the modern buildings of the town. Angers is the seat of a bishopric, dating from the 3rd century, a prefecture, a court of appeal and a court of assizes. It has a tribunal of first instance, a tribunal of commerce, a board of trade-arbitrators, a chamber of commerce, a branch of the Bank of France and several learned societies. Its educational institutions include ecclesiastical seminaries, a lycée, a preparatory school of medicine and pharmacy, a university with free faculties (facultés libres) of theology, law, letters and science, a higher school of agriculture, training colleges, a school of arts and handicrafts and a school of fine art. The prosperity of the town is largely due to the great slate-quarries of the vicinity, but the distillation of liqueurs from fruit, cable, rope and thread-making, and the manufacture of boots and shoes, umbrellas and parasols are leading industries. The weaving of sail-cloth and woollen and other fabrics, machine construction, wire-drawing, and manufacture of sparkling wines and preserved fruits are also carried on. The chief articles of commerce, besides slate and manufactured goods, are hemp, early vegetables, fruit, flowers and live-stock.
Angers, capital of the Gallic tribe of the Andecavi, was under the Romans called Juliomagus. During the 9th century it became the seat of the counts of Anjou (q.v.). It suffered severely from the invasions of the Northmen in 845 and the succeeding years, and of the English in the 12th and 15th centuries; the Huguenots took it in 1585, and the Vendean royalists were repulsed near it in 1793. Till the Revolution, Angers was the seat of a celebrated university founded in the 14th century.