Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/St Lô

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ST, a town of France, chef-lieu of the department of Manche, on the right bank of the Vire, 195 miles west by north of Paris by the railway which here breaks up into two branches for Coutances and Vire respectively. The old town stands on a rocky hill (110 feet high) commanding the river; the modern town spreads out below. Notre Dame is a Gothic building of the 14th century, with portal and two towers of the 15th. In the town-house is the Torigny marble, commemorating the assemblies held in Gaul under the Romans and now serving as a pedestal for the bust of Leverrier the astronomer, who was born at St Lô. The museum has some good pictures, and in the abbey of St Croix there are windows of the 14th century. The Champs de Mars is a fine tree-planted place. Horse-breeding, cloth and calico weaving, wool-spinning, currying and tanning, are the local industries. The population in 1881 was 9889 (10,121 in the commune).

St Lô, founded in the Gallo-Roman period, was originally called Briovira (bridge on the Vire), and afterwards St Étienne, the present name being from one of its bishops (Lo, Laudus), who lived in the 6th century. By the time of Charlemagne the town was already surrounded with walls and contained the abbey, which was sacked by the Normans. In 1141 it fell into the hands of Geoffrey Plantagenet. But in 1203 the castle opened its gates to Philip Augustus, and, weaving being introduced, St Lô soon became a flourishing industrial centre. In the middle of the 14th century Edward III. of England captured the town and according to Froissart obtained immense booty. It was again taken by the English in 1417, but the victory of Formigny (1450) restored it permanently to France. The hearty welcome it gave to the Reformation brought upon St Lô new disasters and new sieges. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes led to the emigration of a part of the inhabitants. In 1800 the town was made the centre of the department, but by Napoleon’s orders it was deprived of its fortifications.