1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Meaux

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MEAUX, a town of northern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Seine-et-Marne, and chief town of the agricultural region of Brie, 28 m. E.N.E. of Paris by rail. Pop. (1906), 11,989. The town proper stands on an eminence on the right bank of the Marne; on the left bank lies the old suburb of Le Marché, with which it is united by a bridge of the 16th century. Two rows of picturesque mills of the same period are built across the river. The cathedral of St Stephen dates from the 12th to the 16th centuries, and was restored in the 19th century. Of the two western towers, the completed one is that to the north of the façade, the other being disfigured by an unsightly slate roof. The building, which is 275 ft. long and 105 ft. high, consists of a short nave, with aisles, a fine transept, a choir and a sanctuary. The choir contains the statue and the tomb of Bossuet, bishop from 1681 to 1704, and the pulpit of the cathedral has been reconstructed with the panels of that from which the “eagle of Meaux” used to preach. The transept terminates at each end in a fine portal surmounted by a rose-window. The episcopal palace (17th century) has several curious old rooms; the buildings of the choir school are likewise of some archaeological interest. A statue of General Raoult (1870) stands in one of the squares.

Meaux is the centre of a considerable trade in cereals, wool, Brie cheeses, and other farm-produce, while its mills provide much of the flour with which Paris is supplied. Other industries are saw-milling, metal-founding, distilling, the preparation of vermicelli and preserved vegetables, and the manufacture of mustard, hosiery, plaster and machinery. There are nursery-gardens in the vicinity. The Canal de l’Ourcq, which surrounds the town, and the Marne furnish the means of transport. Meaux is the seat of a bishopric dating from the 4th century, and has among its public institutions a sub-prefecture, and tribunals of first instance and of commerce.

In the Roman period Meaux was the capital of the Meldi, a small Gallic tribe, and in the middle ages of the Brie. It formed part of the kingdom of Austrasia, and afterwards belonged to the counts of Vermandois and Champagne, the latter of whom established important markets on the left bank of the Marne. Its communal charter, received from them, is dated 1179. A treaty signed at Meaux in 1229 after the Albigensian War sealed the submission of Raymond VII., count of Toulouse. The town suffered much during the Jacquerie, the peasants receiving a severe check there in 1358; during the Hundred Years’ War; and also during the Religious Wars, in which it was an important Protestant centre. It was the first town which opened its gates to Henry IV. in 1594. On the high-road for invaders marching on Paris from the east of France, Meaux saw its environs ravaged by the army of Lorraine in 1652, and was laid under heavy requisitions in 1814, 1815 and 1870. In September 1567 Meaux was the scene of an attempt made by the Protestants to seize the French king Charles IX., and his mother Catherine de’ Medici. The plot, which is sometimes called the “enterprise of Meaux,” failed, the king and queen with their courtiers escaping to Paris. This conduct, however, on the part of the Huguenots had doubtless some share in influencing Charles to assent to the massacre of St Bartholomew.