Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Tarbes

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TARBES, a town of France, chef-lieu of the department of Hautes-Pyrénées, is situated in one of the most beautiful plains of France, on the left bank of the Adour, streams from which are conducted through all parts of the town. The lines of railway from Paris to Pierrefitte and from Toulouse to Bayonne cross here. Among the many gardens and open spaces for which Tarbes is distinguished is the Massey garden (35 acres), given to his native town by a Versailles official of that name, in which his statue faces the town museum, founded by the collector Achille Jubinal. The varied collections include Roman remains, and specimens of the fauna and flora of the Pyrenees. The architecture of the cathedral is heavy and unpleasing, but the cupola of the transept (14th century), the modern glass in the 12th-century apse, and a rose window of the 13th century, in the north transept, are worthy of notice. The Carmelite church has an interesting steeple, and there are the ruins of a chapel and cloister, and Roman remains in the garden of the former episcopal palace, now occupied by the prefecture. The municipal buildings, with the public library (22,000 volumes), the lyceum, the court of justice, and the barracks (which are large and fine) may also be mentioned among the public buildings. The garrison and artillery establishments, the latter associated with an arsenal and large workshops, have considerable importance. Other industrial establishments are a foundry machine manufactory, felt and woollen factories, and wool and flax spinning mills. Paper, lace, knitted goods, carriages, and leather are also made here, and marble from the Pyrenees is prepared for the market. There are important fairs and markets, particularly for horses, as Tarbes is a well-known centre for a special breed of light horses, its stud being the most important in the south of France. The population of the town was 24,882 in 1886.

Tarbes, a mere vicus in the time of Gregory of Tours, rose into importance after the destruction of the ancient Aquitanian town of Turba. The seat of the bishopric was transferred to it about the 9th century, when a castle was also built. Raymond I., towards the middle of the 10th century, rebuilt the town, fortified it, and made it the capital of the county of Bigorre. The English held the town from 1360 to 1406. In 1569 Tarbes was burnt by Montgomery, and the inhabitants were driven out. This happened a second time, but in August 1570 the peace of St Germain allowed the inhabitants to return to the grass-grown streets. Subsequently Tarbes was four times taken and re-taken, and a number of the inhabitants of Bigorre were forced to take refuge in Spain, but in 1594 the members of the League were finally expelled. The English, under Wellington, gained a victory over the French near Tarbes in 1814. Théophile Gautier was born here in 1811.