1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lausanne

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LAUSANNE, the capital of the Swiss canton of Vaud. It is the junction of the railway lines from Geneva, from Brieg and the Simplon, from Fribourg and Bern, and from Vallorbe (for Paris). A funicular railway connects the upper town with the central railway station and with Ouchy, the port of Lausanne on the lake of Geneva. Lausanne takes its name from the Flon stream flowing through it, which was formerly called Laus (water). The older or upper portion of the town is built on the crest and slopes of five hillocks and in the hollows between them, all forming part of the Jorat range. It has a picturesque appearance from the surface of the lake, above which the cathedral rises some 500 ft., while from the town there is a fine view across the lake towards the mountains of Savoy and of the Valais. The quaint characteristics of the hilly site of the old town have largely been destroyed by modern improvements, which began in 1836 and were not quite completed in 1910. The Grand Pont, designed by the cantonal engineer, Adrien Pichard (1790–1841), was built 1839–1844, while the Barre tunnel was pierced 1851–1855 and the bridge of Chauderon was built in 1905. The valleys and lower portions of the town were gradually filled up so as to form a series of squares, of which those of Riponne and of St François are the finest, the latter now being the real centre of the town. The railways were built between 1856 and 1862, while the opening of the Simplon tunnel (1906) greatly increased the commercial importance of Lausanne, which is now on the great international highway from Paris to Milan. From 1896 onwards a well-planned set of tramways within the town was constructed. The town is still rapidly extending, especially towards the south and west. Since the days of Gibbon (resident here for three periods, 1753–1758, 1763–1764 and 1783–1793), whose praises of the town have been often repeated, Lausanne has become a favourite place of residence for foreigners (including many English), who are especially attracted by the excellent establishments for secondary and higher education. Hence in 1900 there were 9501 foreign residents (of whom 628 were British subjects) out of a total population of 46,732 inhabitants; in 1905 it was reckoned that these numbers had risen respectively to 10,625, 818 and 53,577. In 1709 it is said that the inhabitants numbered but 7432 and 9965 in 1803, while the numbers were 20,515 in 1860 and 33,340 in 1888. Of the population in 1900 the great majority was French-speaking (only 6627 German-speaking and 3146 Italian-speaking) and Protestant (9364 Romanists and 473 Jews).

The principal building is the cathedral church (now Protestant) of Notre Dame, which with the castle occupies the highest position. It is the finest medieval ecclesiastical building in Switzerland. Earlier buildings were more or less completely destroyed by fire, but the present edifice was consecrated in 1275 by Pope Gregory X. in the presence of the emperor Rudolf of Habsburg. It was sacked after the Bernese conquest (1536) and the introduction of Protestantism, but many ancient tapestries and other precious objects are still preserved in the Historical Museum at Bern. The church was well restored at great cost from 1873 onwards, as it is the great pride of the citizens. Close by is the castle, built in the early 15th century by the bishops, later the residence of the Bernese bailiffs and now the seat of the various branches of the administration of the canton of Vaud. Near both is the splendid Palais de Rumine (on the Place de la Riponne), opened in 1906 and now housing the university as well as the cantonal library, the cantonal picture gallery (or Musée Arlaud, founded 1841) and the cantonal collections of archaeology, natural history, &c. The university was raised to that rank in 1890, but, as an academy, dates from 1537. Among its former teachers may be mentioned Theodore Beza, Conrad Gesner, J. P. de Crousaz, Charles Monnard, Alexandre Vinet, Eugène Rambert, Juste Olivier and several members of the Secretan family. On the Montbenon heights to the south-west of the cathedral group is the federal palace of justice, the seat (since 1886) of the federal court of justice, which, erected by the federal constitution of 29th May 1874, was fixed at Lausanne by a federal resolution of 26th June 1874. The house, La Grotte, which Gibbon inhabited 1783–1793, and on the terrace of which he completed (1787) his famous history, was demolished in 1896 to make room for the new post office that stands on the Place St François. The asylum for the blind was mainly founded (1845) by the generosity of W. Haldimand, an Englishman of Swiss descent. The first book printed in Lausanne was the missal of the cathedral church (1493), while the Gazette de Lausanne (founded 1798) took that name in 1804. Lausanne has been the birthplace of many distinguished men, such as Benjamin Constant, the Secretans, Vinet and Rambert. It is the seat of many benevolent, scientific and literary societies and establishments.

The original town (mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary) was on the shore of the lake, near Vidy, south-west of the present city. It was burnt in the 4th century by the Alamanni. Some of the inhabitants took refuge in the hills above and there founded a new town, which acquired more importance when Bishop Marius about 590 chose it as his see city (perhaps transferring it from Avenches). Here rose the cathedral church, the bishop’s palace, &c. Across the Flon was a Burgundian settlement, later known as the Bourg, while to the west was a third colony around the church of St Laurent. These three elements joined together to form the present city. The bishops obtained little by little great temporal powers (the diocese extended to the left bank of the Aar) and riches, becoming in 1125 princes of the empire, while their chapter was recruited only from the noblest families. But in 1368 the bishop was forced to recognize various liberties and customs that had been gradually won by the citizens, the Plaid Général of that year showing that there was already some kind of municipal government, save for the cité, which was not united with the ville inférieure or the other four quartiers (Bourg, St Laurent, La Palud and Le Pont) in 1481. In 1525 the city made an alliance with Bern and Fribourg. But in 1536 the territory of the bishop (as well as the Savoyard barony of Vaud) was forcibly conquered by the Bernese, who at once introduced Protestantism. The Bernese occupation lasted till 1798, though in 1723 an attempt was made to put an end to it by Major Davel, who lost his life in consequence. In 1798 Lausanne became a simple prefecture of the canton Léman of the Helvetic republic. But in 1803, on the creation of the canton of Vaud by the Act of Mediation, it became its capital. The bishop of Lausanne resided after 1663 at Fribourg, while from 1821 onwards he added “and of Geneva” to his title.

Besides the general works dealing with the canton of Vaud (q.v.), the following books refer specially to Lausanne: A. Bernus, L’Imprimerie à Lausanne et à Morges jusqu’à la fin du 16ième siècle (Lausanne, 1904); M. Besson, Récherches sur les origines des évêchés de Genève, Lausanne, Sion (Fribourg, 1906); A. Bonnard, “Lausanne au 18ième siècle,” in the work entitled Chez nos aïeux (Lausanne, 1902); E. Dupraz, La Cathédrale de Lausanne ... étude historique (Lausanne, 1906); E. Gibbon, Autobiography and Letters (3 vols., 1896); F. Gingins and F. Forel, Documents concernant l’ancien évêché de Lausanne, 2 parts (Lausanne, 1846–1847); J. H. Lewis and F. Gribble, Lausanne (1909); E. van Muyden and others, Lausanne à travers les âges (Lausanne, 1906); Meredith Read, Historic Studies in Vaud, Berne and Savoy (2 vols., 1897); M. Schmitt, Mémoires hist. sur le diocèse de Lausanne (2 vols., Fribourg, 1859); J. Stammler (afterwards bishop of Lausanne), Le Trésor de la cathédrale de Lausanne (Lausanne, 1902; trans. of a German book of 1894).  (W. A. B. C.)