1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Toulouse

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TOULOUSE, a city of south-western France, capital of the department of Haute-Garonne, 443 m. S. by W. of Paris by the Orleans railway, and 159 m. S.E. of Bordeaux by the Southern railway. Pop. (1906), town, 125,856; commune, 149,438. Toulouse is situated on the right bank of the Garonne, which here changes a north-easterly for a north-westerly direction, describing a curve round which the city extends in the form of a crescent. On the left bank is the suburb of St Cyprien, which is exposed to the inundations of the river owing to its low situation. The river is spanned by three bridges—that of St Pierre to the north, that of St Michel to the south, and the Pont Neuf in the centre; the last, a fine structure of seven arches was begun in 1543 by Nicolas Bachelier, the sculptor, whose work is to be seen in many of the churches and mansions of the city. East and north of the city runs the Canal du Midi, which here joins the lateral canal of the Garonne. Between the Canal du Midi and the city proper extends a long line of boulevards leading southwards by the Allee St Etienne to the Grand Rond, a promenade whence a series of allees branch out in all directions. South-west the Allee St Michel leads towards the Garonne, and south the Grande Allee towards the Faubourg St Michel. These boulevards take the place of the old city walls. Between them and the canal lie the more modern faubourgs of St Pierre, Arnaud-Bernard, Matabiau, &c. The Place du Capitole, to which streets converge from every side, occupies the centre of the city. Two broad straight thoroughfares of modern construction, the Rue de Metz and the Rue d'Alsace-Lorraine, intersect one another to the south of this point, the first running east from the Pont Neuf, the other running north and south. The other streets are for the most part narrow and irregular.

The most interesting building in Toulouse is the church of St Sernin or Saturnin, whom legend represents as the first preacher of the gospel in Toulouse, where he was perhaps martyred about the middle of the 3rd century. The choir, the oldest part of the oldest part of the present building, was consecrated by Urban II. in 1096. The church is the largest Romanesque basilica in existence, being 375 ft. from east to west and 210 ft. in extreme breadth. The nave (12th and 13th centuries) has double aisles. Four pillars, supporting the central tower, are surrounded by heavy masonry, which somewhat spoils the general harmony of the interior. In the southern transept is the “portail des comtes,” so named because near it lie the tombs of William Taillefer, Pons, and other early counts of Toulouse. The little chapel in which these tombs (ascribed to the 11th century) are found was restored by the capitols of Toulouse in 1648. Another chapel contains a Byzantine Christ of late 11th-century workmanship. The choir (11th and 12th centuries) ends in an apse, or rather chevet, surrounded by a range of columns, marking off an aisle, which in its turn opens into five chapels. The stalls are of 16th-century work and grotesquely carved. Against the northern wall is an ancient table d’autel, which an 11th-century inscription declares to have belonged to St Sernin. In the crypts are many relics, which, however, were robbed of their gold and silver shrines during the Revolution. On the south there is a fine outer porch in the Renaissance style; it is surmounted by a representation of the Ascension in Byzantine style. The central tower (13th century) consists of five storeys, of which the two highest are of later date, but harmonize with the three lower ones. A restoration of St Sernin was carried out in the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc.

The cathedral, dedicated to St Stephen, dates from three different epochs. The walls of the nave belong to a, Romanesque cathedral of the 11th century, but its roof dates from the first half of the 13th century. The choir was begun by Bishop Bertrand de l’Ile (c. 1272), who wished to build another church in place of the old one. This wish was unfulfilled and the original nave, the axis of which is to the south of that of the choir, remains. The choir was burned in 1690 but restored soon after. It is surrounded by seventeen chapels, finished by the cardinal d’Orleans, nephew of Louis XI, about the beginning of the 16th century, and adorned with glass dating from the 15th to the 17th century. The western gate, flanked by a huge square tower, was constructed by Peter du Moulin, archbishop of Toulouse, from 1439 to 1451. It has been greatly battered, and presents but a poor approximation to its ancient beauty. Over this gate, which was once ornamented with the statues of St Sernin, St Exuperius and the twelve apostles, as well as those of the two brother archbishops of Toulouse, Denis (1423–1439) and Peter du Moulin, there is a beautiful 13th-century rose-window, whose centre, however, is not in a perpendicular line with the point of the Gothic arch below.

Among other remarkable churches may be noticed Notre-Dame de la Daurade, near the Pont Neuf, built on the site of a 9th-century Benedictine abbey and reconstructed towards the end of the 18th century; and Notre-Dame de la Dalbade; perhaps existing in the 11th, but in its present form dating from the 16th century, with a fine Renaissance portal. The church of the Jacobins, held by Viollet-le-Duc to be “one of the most beautiful brick churches constructed in the middle ages,” was built towards the end of the 13th century, and consists of a nave divided into two aisles by a range of columns. The chief exterior feature is a beautiful octagonal belfry. The church belonged to a Dominican monastery, of which part of the cloister, the refectory, the chapter-hall and the chapel also remain and are utilized by the lycee. Of the other secular buildings the most noteworthy are the capitole and the museum. The capitole has a long Ionic facade built from 1750 to 1760. The theatre is situated in the left wing. Running along almost the whole length of the first floor is the salle des illustres adorned with modern paintings and sculptures relating to the history of the town. The museum (opened in 1795) occupies, besides a large modern building, the church, cloisters and other buildings of an old Augustinian convent. It contains pictures and a splendid collection of antiquities, notably a series of statues and busts of Roman emperors and others and much Romanesque sculpture. There is an auxiliary museum in the old college of St Raymond. The natural history museum is in the Jardin des Plantes. The law courts stand on the site of the old Chateau Narbonais, once the residence of the counts of Toulouse and later the seat of the parlement of Toulouse. Near by is a statue of the jurist Jacques Cujas, born at Toulouse.

Toulouse is singularly rich in mansions of the 16th and 17th centuries. Among these may be mentioned the Hotel Bernuy, a fine Renaissance building now used by the lycee and the Hôtel d’Assezat of the same period, now the property of the Acadméie des Jeux Floraux (see below), and of the learned societies of the city. In the court of the. latter there is a statue of Clémence Isaure, a lady of Toulouse, traditionally supposed to have enriched the Académie by a bequest in the 15th century. The Maison de Pierre has an elaborate stone facade of 1612.

Toulouse is the seat of an archbishopric, of a court of appeal, a court of assizes and of a prefect. It is also the headquarters of the XVII. army corps and centre of an educational circumscription (académie). There are tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a board of trade-arbitration, a chamber of commerce and a branch of the Bank of France. The educational institutions include faculties of law, medicine and pharmacy, science and letters, a Catholic institute with faculties of the theology and letters, higher and lower ecclesiastical seminaries, lycees and training colleges for both sexes, and schools of veterinary science, fine arts and industrial sciences and music.

Toulouse, the principal commercial and industrial centre of Languedoc, has important markets for horses, wine, grain, flowers, leather, oil and farm produce. Its pastry and other delicacies are highly esteemed. Its industrial establishments include the national tobacco factory, flour-mills, saw-mills, engineering workshops and factories for farming implements, bicycles, vehicles, artificial manures, paper, boots and shoes, and flour pastes.

Tolosa, chief town of the Volcae Tectosages, does not seem to have been a place of great importance during the early centuries of the Roman rule in Gaul, though in 106 B.C. the pillage of its temple by Q. S. Cepio, afterwards routed by the Cimbri, gave rise to the famous Latin proverb habet aurum Tolosanum, in allusion to ill-gotten gains. It possessed a circus and an amphitheatre, but its most remarkable remains are to be found on the heights of Old Toulouse (vetus Tolosa) some 6 or 7 m. to the east, where huge accumulations of broken pottery and fragments of an old earthen wall mark the site of an ancient settlement. The numerous coins that have been discovered on the same spot do not date back farther than the 2nd century B.C., and seem to indicate the position of a Roman manufacturing centre then beginning to occupy the Gallic hill-fortress that, in earlier days, had in times of peril been the stronghold of the native tribes dwelling on the river bank. Tolosa does not seem to have been a Roman colony; but its importance must have increased greatly towards the middle of the 4th century. It is to be found entered in more than one itinerary dating from about this time; and Ausonius, in his Ordo nobilium urbium, alludes to it in terms implying that it then had a large population. In 419 it was made the capital of his kingdom by Wallia, king of the Visigoths, under whom or whose successors it became the seat of the great Teutonic kingdom of the West-Goths—a kingdom that within fifty years had extended itself from the Loire to Gibraltar and from the Rhone to the Atlantic. On the defeat of Alaric II. (507) Toulouse fell into the hands of Clovis, who carried away the royal treasures to Angouleme. Under the Merovingian kings it seems to have remained the greatest city of southern Gaul, and is said to have been governed by dukes or counts dependent on one or other of the rival kings descended from the great founder of the Frankish monarchy. It figures prominently in the pages of Gregory of Tours and Sidonius Apollinaris. About 628 Dagobert erected South Aquitaine into a kingdom for his brother Charibert, who chose Toulouse as his capital. For the next eighty years its history is obscure, till we reach the days of Charles Martel, when it was besieged by Sem'a, the leader of the Saracens from Spain (c. 715–720), but delivered by Eudes, " princeps Aquitaniae," in whom later writers discovered the ancestor of all the later counts of Toulouse. Modern criticism, however, has discredited this genealogy; and the real history of Toulouse recommences in 780 or 781, when Charlemagne appointed his little son Louis king of Aquitaine, with Toulouse for his chief city.

During the minority of the young king his tutor Chorson ruled at Toulouse with the title of duke or count. Being deposed at the Council of Worms (790), he was succeeded by William Courtnez, the traditional hero of southern France, who in 806 retired to his newly founded monastery at Gellone, where he died in 812. In the unhappy days of the emperor Louis the Pious and his children Toulouse suffered in common with the rest of western Europe. It was besieged by Charles the Bald in 844, and taken four years later by the Normans, who in 843 had sailed up the Garonne as far as its walls. About 852 Raymond I., count of Quercy, succeeded his brother Fridolo as count of Rouergue and Toulouse; it is from this noble that all the later counts of Toulouse trace their descent. Raymond I.'s grandchildren divided their parents' estates; of these Raymond II. (d. 924) became count of Toulouse, and Ermengaud, count of Rouergue, while the hereditary titles of Gothia, Quercy and Albi were shared between them. Raymond II. 's grandson, William Taillefer (d. c. 1037), married Emma of Provence, and handed down part of that lordship to his younger son Bertrand.[1] William’s elder son Pons left two children, of whom William IV. succeeded his father in Toulouse, Albi, Quercy, &c; while the younger, Raymond IV. of St Gilles (c. 1066), made himself master of the vast possessions of the counts of Rouergue, married his cousin the heiress of Provence, and about 1085 began to rule the immense estates of his elder brother, who was still living.

From this time the counts of Toulouse were the greatest lords in southern France. Raymond IV., the hero of the first crusade, assumed the formal titles of marquis of Provence, duke of Narbonne and count of Toulouse. While Raymond was away in the Holy Land, Toulouse was seized by William IX., duke of Aquitaine, who claimed the city in right of his wife Philippa, the daughter of William IV., but was unable to hold it long (1008–1100). Raymond’s son and successor Bertrand followed his father’s example and set out for the Holy Land in 1109, leaving his great estates at his death to his brother Alphonse Jourdain. The rule of this prince was disturbed by the ambition of William IX. and his grand-daughter Eleanor, who urged her husband Louis VII. to support her claims to Toulouse by war. On her divorce from Louis and her marriage with Henry II., Eleanor’s claims passed on to this monarch, who at last forced Raymond V. to do him homage for Toulouse in 1173. Raymond V., the patron of the troubadours, died in 1194, and was succeeded by his son Raymond VI., under whose rule Languedoc was desolated by the crusaders of Simon de Montfort, who occupied Toulouse in 121 5, but lost his life in besieging it in 1 218. Raymond VII., the son of Raymond VI. and Princess Joan of England, succeeded his father in 1222, and died in 1249, leaving an only daughter Joan, married to Alfonso the brother of Louis IX. On the death of Alfonso and Joan in 1271 the vast inheritance of the counts of Toulouse lapsed to the Crown.[2] From the middle years of the 12th century the people of Toulouse seem to have begun to free themselves from the most oppressive feudal dues. An act of Alphonse Jourdain (1141) exempts them from the tax on salt and wine; and in 1152 we have traces of a “commune consilium Tolosae” making police ordinances in its own name " with the advice of Lord Raymond, count of Toulouse, duke of Narbonne, and marquis of Provence." This act is witnessed by six “capitularii,” four duly appointed judges (judices constituti) , and two advocates. Twenty-three years later there are twelve capitularii or consuls, six for the city and six for its suburbs, all of them elected and sworn to do justice in whatever municipal matters were brought before them. In 1222 their number was increased to twenty-four; but they were forbidden to touch the city property, which was to remain in the charge of certain " communarii " chosen by themselves. Early in the 14th century the consuls took the name of " doinini de capitulo," or, a little later, that of " capitulum nobilium." From the 13th century the consuls met in their own house, the “palatium communitatis Tolosae” or hôtel-de-ville. In the 16th century a false derivation changed the ancient consuls (domini de capitulo) into the modern “capitouls” (domini capitolii tolosani), a barbarous etymology which in its turn has, in the present century, transformed the old assembly house of Toulouse into the capitole. The parlement of Toulouse was established as a permanent court in 1443. Louis XI. transferred it to Montpellier in 1467, but restored it to Toulouse before the close of the next year. This parlement was for Languedoc and southern France what the parlement of Paris was for the north. During the religious wars of the 16th century the Protestants of the town made two unsuccessful attempts to hand it over to the prince de Conde. After St Bartholomew’s Day (1572) 300 of the party were massacred. Towards the end of the 16th century, during the wars of the League, the parlement was split up into three different sections, sitting respectively at Carcassonne or Beziers, at Castle Sarrasin, and at Toulouse. The three were reunited in 1596. Under Francis I. it began to persecute heretics, and in 1619 rendered itself notorious by burning the philosopher Vanini. In 1762 Jean Calas, an old man falsely accused of murdering his eldest son to prevent him becoming a Roman Catholic, was broken on the wheel. By the exertions of Voltaire his character was afterwards rehabilitated. The university of Toulouse owes its origin to the action of Gregory IX., who in 1229 bound Raymond VII. to maintain four masters to teach theology and eight others for canon law, grammar, and the liberal arts. Civil law and medicine were taught only a few years later. The famous “Floral Games” of Toulouse, in which the poets of Languedoc contended (May 1–3) for the prize of the golden amaranth and other gold or silver flowers, given at the expense of the city, were instituted in 1323–1324. The Académie des Jeux Floraux still awards these prizes for compositions in poetry and prose. In 1814 the duke of Wellington defeated Marshal Soult to the north-east of the town.

See L. Ariste and L. Brand, Histoire populaire de Toulouse depuis les origines jusqu’à ce jour (Toulouse, 1898). This work contains an exhaustive bibliography.

  1. About 975 there was a partition of the estates which William Taillefer and his cousin Raymond II. of Auvergne held in common,—Albi, Quercy, &c., falling to William, and Gothia, &c., to Raymond.
  2. List of the counts of Toulouse:
    Chorson 778–790
    William I. 790–806
    Raymond Rafinel c. 812–818
    Berenger 818–835
    Bernard I 835–844
    Warin 844–845
    William II 845–850
    Fridolo 850–852
    Raymond I 852–864
    Bernard 864–875
    Eudo 875–918
    Raymond II 918–c. 924
    Raymond III. 924-c. 950
    William Taillefer c. 950–c. 1037
    Pons 1037–1060
    William IV 1060–c. 1093
    Raymond IV. 1093–1096
    Bertrand 1096–1109
    Alphonse Jourdain  1109–1148
    Raymond V. 1148–1194
    Raymond VI. 1194–1222
    Raymond VII. 1222–1249
    Alfonso and Joan 1249–1271