1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sées
SÉES, a town of north-western France, in the department of Orne, on the river Orne 3 m. from its source and 13 m. N.N.E. of Alençon by rail. Pop. (1906) town, 2612; commune, 3982. The town is a bishop's see and has a Gothic cathedral remarkable for the boldness of its architecture. The church dates from the 13th and 14th centuries and occupies the site of three earlier churches. The west front, which is disfigured by the buttresses projecting beyond it, has two stately spires of open work 230 ft. high. The nave was built towards the end of the 13th century. The choir, built soon afterwards, is remarkable for the lightness of its construction. In the choir are four bas-reliefs of great beauty representing scenes in the life of the Virgin; and the altar is adorned with another depicting the removal of the relics of St Gervais and St Protais. The church has constantly been the object of restoration and reconstruction. Other noteworthy buildings are the episcopal palace (1778), with a pretty chapel; the higher seminary, located in the old abbeyof St Martin (supposed to be one of the fourteen or fifteen monasteries founded in the 6th century by St Evroult); and the sumptuous modern chapel of the Immaculate Conception, a resort of pilgrims.
The first bishop of Sées (Saium, Sagium) was St Lain, who lived about the 4th century. In the 9th century Sées was a fortified town and fell a prey to the Normans. At that period Sées consisted of two distinct parts, separated by the Orne—the bishop's burgh, and to the south, the new or count's burgh (Bourg le Comte). From 1356 the counts of Alençon were its possessors. It was captured and recaptured in the wars between Henry II. of England and his sons. In the Hundred Years' War it was one of the first towns of Normandy to fall into the hands of the English (1418). Pillaged by the Protestants during the Wars of Religion, Sées attached itself to the League in 1589, but voluntarily surrendered to Henry IV. in 1590.