1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Moulins

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MOULINS, a town of central France, capital of the department of Allier, 121 m. by rail N.W. of Lyons. Pop. (1906), 18,997. The town is situated on the right bank of the Allier, which is here crossed by a remarkable bridge of the 18th century about 1000 ft. in length. Moulins did not attain any importance till the 14th century, before which it consisted chiefly of some mills belonging to the dukes of Bourbon. The medieval town occupied a small area, the boundaries of which are marked on the N.E. and S. by the central boulevards occupying the site of the old moats. The modern town, expanding from this nucleus, is limited on the east and south by the railway, the southern portion being traversed by agreeable promenades. To the north is the spacious avenue known as the Cours de Bercy, close by the hospital and the lycée. The more interesting buildings lie within the old enceinte. The chief of these is the cathedral, which consists of a huge choir of the 15th and 16th centuries, and a nave in the early Gothic style but modern in construction and terminated by two towers with stone spires rising to a height of 312 ft. The church possesses a fine triptych attributed to Domenico Ghirlandajo (d. 1494), and fine windows of the 15th and 16th centuries. Among the oldest buildings in the town are the square tower of the 14th century (used as a prison) which is the chief relic of the chateau of the dukes of Bourbon, and a belfry of the 15th century. Part of an old Jesuit college serves as the court-house, which contains an archaeological museum. The library, which possesses a valuable Bible of 1115, is part of the hôtel-de-ville. Numerous mansions of the 15th and 16th centuries border the streets of the old quarter of the town. There is a statue of the poet Théodore de Banville, born in Moulins in 1823. The town is the seat of a prefect, a bishop, and a court of assizes, and has tribunals of first instance and commerce, and a branch of the Bank of France. Yzeure, 1¼ m. E. of Moulins, has an interesting Romanesque church (12th century); 7½ m. W.S.W. of Moulins is Sauvigny, formerly famous for its Cluniac priory. Its church, a fine building of the 11th and 12th centuries, restored in the 15th century, contains the splendid tombs of Louis II. and Charles I., dukes of Bourbon in the 15th century, and other tombs of the Bourbon family, now in ruins.

Moulins became the residence of the dukes of Bourbon about the middle of the 14th century, and capital of the duchy towards the end of the 15th century. In 1566, under Charles IX., an important assembly of notables was held in the town, at which the judicial system of France was reorganized.