Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Toulon

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TOULON, a French fortress of the first class, chef-lieu of an arrondissement in the department of Var, of the 5th naval arrondissement, and of a military subdivision, is situated on the Mediterranean, 42 miles east-south-east of Marseilles by the railway to Nice. The bay, which opens to the east, has two divisions, the " grand rade " and the "petite rade"; it is sheltered on the north and west by high hills, closed on the south by the peninsula of Capes Sicié and Cépet, and protected on the east by a huge breakwater, the entrance, 1300 feet wide, being defensible by torpedoes.

Environs of Toulon. A ship coming from the open sea must first pass the forts of St Marguerite, of Cape Brun, of La Malgue, and of St Louis to the north, and the battery of the signal station to the south; before reaching the petite rade it must further pass under the guns of the battery of Le Salut to the east, and of the forts of Balaguier and L'Eguillette to the west. The Bay of La Seyne lies west of the petite rade, and is defended by the forts of Les Six-Fours, Napoleon (formerly Fort Cairo), and Malbousquet, and the batteries of Les Arenes and Les Gaus. To the north of Toulon rise the defensive works of Mont Far on and Fort Rouge, to the east the forts of Artigues and St Catherine, to the north-east the formidable new fort of Le Coudon, and to the south-east that of La Colle Noire, respectively dominating the highway into Italy and the valley of Hyères with the Bay of Carqueyranne. The port of Toulon consists of the old dock, of which one-third is reserved for the national navy, a new dock, wholly so devoted, a harbour capable of receiving trading vessels drawing from 16 to 18 feet, but only used for cargoes of wood and wine, and the Castigneau dock. The naval arsenal (including the arsenal of Castigneau, which is contiguous with it, in the direction of La Seyne) extends over 4 miles, has an area of 667 acres, and employs from 12,000 to 13,000 men. It contains the offices connected with the administration of the port, the office of naval construction, a well-stored naval museum, and a great variety of workshops. These last include a rope-work 1050 x 66 feet, covered building yards, careening basins, forges, armourers and joiners' shops, general magazines, reconstructed on a fireproof principle since the conflagration of 1793, in which are stored all materials required in the arsenal and on board ship, a park of artillery, a splendid collection of arms, and separate storehouses for various classes of rigging. The Castigneau arsenal contains the navy bakery of twenty ovens, capable of cooking 600,000 rations daily, the foundry and boiler-making works, engineers workshops, forges, three large careening basins, a washing house, a slaughter house, stores of pro visions, coals, anchors and machinery, and the like. The Mourillon arsenal, to the south-east of the town, has stores of wood, building yards, and appliances for naval construction in wood and iron. The town, enlarged to the north under the second empire, has on that side a fine new quarter; but in the old town the streets are for the most part narrow, crooked, and dirty, and to their insanitary state the cholera epidemic of 1884 has been attributed. The chief buildings are the old cathedral of St Marie Majeure, the church of St Louis, the town-hall, the theatre (seating 2000 persons), the museum, the library (18,000 volumes), the naval and military hospital, with a natural history collection and an anatomical museum attached, a naval school of medicine, a school of hydrography, and large barracks. The imports are wine (2,470,000 gallons in 1881), corn, wood, coal, hemp, iron, sugar, coffee, and fresh fish; the exports are salt, copper ore, barks for tanning, and oils. In 1882 the movement of the port was represented by 280 vessels (41,000 tons). The interesting buildings and gardens of the hospital of St Mandrier stand on the peninsula of Cape Cépet, and near them is the lazaretto. In 1881 the population of Toulon was 48,832, and in 1886 it was 53,941, exclusive of 12,487 soldiers, sailors, &c. (commune 70,122).

The Roman Tulo Martins is supposed to have stood near the lazaretto. The town was successively sacked by Goths, Burgundians, Franks, and Saracens. During the early Middle Ages, and till conquered by Charles of Anjou in 1259, it was under lords of its own, and entered into alliance with the republics of Marseilles and Aries. St Louis, Louis XII., and Francis I. strengthened its fortifications. It was seized by the emperor Charles V. in 1524 and 1536. Henry IV. founded a naval arsenal at Toulon, which was further strengthened by Richelieu, and Vauban made the new dock, a new enceinte, and several forts and batteries. In 1707 the town was unsuccessfully besieged by the duke of Savoy, Prince Eugene, and an English fleet. In 1721 there was an outbreak of the plague. In 1792, after great and sanguinary disorder, the royalists of the town sought the support of the English and Spanish fleets cruising in the neighbourhood. The convention having replied by putting the town "hors la loi," the inhabitants opened their harbour to the English. The army of the republic now laid siege to the town, and it was on this occasion that Napoleon Bonaparte first made his name as a soldier. The forts commanding the town having been taken, the English ships retired after setting fire to the arsenal. The conflagration was extinguished by the prisoners, but not before 33 out of a total of 56 vessels had been destroyed. Under the Directory Toulon became the most important French military fort on the Mediterranean; it was here that Napoleon organized the Egyptian campaign, and the expedition against Algiers set out from Toulon in 1830. The fortifications have been strengthened by Napoleon I., Louis Philippe, Napoleon III., and since 1870.