1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/St Lô

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ST LÔ, a town of north-western France, capital of the department of Manche, 47½ m. W. by S. of Caen by rail. Pop. (1906) town 9379; commune, 12,181. St Lô is situated on a rocky hill on the right bank of the Vire. Its chief building is the Gothic church of Notre-Dame, dating mainly from the 16th century. The facade, flanked by two lofty towers and richly decorated, is impressive, despite its lack of harmony. There is a Gothic pulpit outside the choir. In the hôtel-de-ville is the “Torigni marble,” the pedestal of an ancient statue, the inscriptions on which relate chiefly to the annual assemblies of the Gallic deputies held at Lyons under the Romans. The modern church of Sainte-Croix preserves a Romanesque portal which belonged to the church of an ancient Benedictine abbey. St Lô is the seat of a prefect and has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a training college for masters, a school of drawing, a branch of the Bank of France, a chamber of arts and manufactures, and a government stud. The town has trade in grain, fat stock, troop-horses and farm produce, and carries on tanning, wool-spinning and bleaching and the manufacture of woollen and other fabrics.

St Lô, called Briovera in the Gallo-Roman period, owes its present name to St Lô (Laudus), bishop of Coutances (d. 568). In the middle ages St Lô became an important fortress as well as a centre for the weaving industry. It sustained numerous sieges, the last in 1574, when the town, which had embraced Calvinism, was stormed by the Catholics and many of its inhabitants massacred. In 1800 the town was made capital of its department in place of Coutances.