Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Toulouse

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TOULOUSE, chef-lieu of the French department of Haute-Garonne, 478 miles south from Paris and 160 south east from Bordeaux, stands on the right bank of the Garonne, which here describes a bold outward curve to the east. On the left bank is the Faubourg St Cyprien. The river is spanned by three bridges, that of St Pierre to the north, that of St Michel towards the south, and the Pont Neuf in the centre; the last-named, a fine construction of seven arches, was begun in 1543. The city is peculiarly subject to great floods, such as that of 1855, which destroyed the suspension bridge of St Pierre, or the still more disastrous one of June 1875, which, besides carrying away that of St Michel, laid the Faubourg St Cyprien under water, destroyed 7000 houses, and drowned 300 people. East and north of the city runs the great Canal du Midi (from the Mediterranean), which here joins the Garonne. Between this canal and the city proper extends the long line of boulevards (Boulevards Lacrosses, d Arcole, du 22 Sentembre, &c.) leading by the Allee St Etienne to the Boulidgrin, whence a series of allees shoot out in all directions. South-west the Allee St Michel leads towards the Garonne, and south the Grande Alice 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, Aruaud-Bernard, Matabiau, &c.

Plan of Toulouse.

The more ancient part of the city consists of narrow irregular pebble-paved streets. Most of the houses are of brick, and none of any great architectural pretensions, except those which date back at least to the 17th century. In 1868 the municipal authorities determined to construct two entirely new streets, broad and straight, intended to cut one another at right angles near the centre of the city. Of these the first, the Rue de Metz, starts eastward from the Pont Neuf, and will ultimately intersect the Rue d'Alsace-Lorraine running from north to south. These alterations, however, go on very slowly. The Place du Capitole may be regarded as the centre, whence streets branch out in every direction. Eastward and north-east the Rue La Fayette leads across the boulevards towards the Allee La Fayette, beyond which, across the Canal du Midi, are the Ecole Veterinaire and the railway station, and still farther off the obelisk erected to commemorate the battle of Toulouse (April 10, 1814), and the observatory. From the north west of the Place du Capitole the Rue du Taur runs due north past the ancient Eglise du Taur to the great Eglise St Sernin. the largest and most famous church of southern France. From the north-west corner of the same Place the Rue des Lois conducts towards the Ecole de Droit and the arsenal. In a more westerly direction the Rue Pargaminiere stretches towards the venerable church and the bridge of St Peter From the south-west corner the Rue des Balances extends towards the Rue de Metz and the Pont Neuf. From the south the Rue St Rome, Rue des Changes, and Rue des Filatiers lead to the Place des Carmes or de la Republique; while from the south-east corner the Rue de la Pomme and the Rue Boulbonne lead across the Rue d Alsace-Lorraine to the cathedral of St Stephen. In the south of the city lies the palais de justice, near which are the ancient church of the Inquisition and several of the finest houses in Toulouse. Going northwards, the traveller passes the 6glise de la Dalbade on his way towards the Pont Neuf, immediately to the north of which is the glise de la Daurade. North of this church, but somewhat farther from the river, is the military hospital, to the immediate east of which lie the lycee, the church of the Jacobins, and the public library. South-east from this, about half way towards the cathedral, is the museum. North of the military hospital and beyond the Rue Pargaminiere lie the arsenal and the Faubourg St Pierre. Slightly to the north west of the Pont St Pierre the Canal de Brienne (finished 1778) cuts across the angle formed by the Garonne and Canal du Midi. Between the Canal de Brienne and the Garonne is the chief manufacturing part of the city, where the great Bazacle flour-mill stands. Along the right bank of the river run the various quays of St Pierre, &c. In the Faubourg St Cyprien, just north of the Pont Neuf, is the Hotel Dieu St Jacques, said to have been founded before the 12th century, with its large gardens. Close to the Pont St Pierre is the hospital of St Joseph de la Grave, which makes up 1432 beds, and affords shelter to found lings and the aged. South of the Allee St Michel is the Jardin des Plantes, founded by the ill-fated La Perouse.

The most interesting building is the church of St Sernin or Saturninus, whom legend represents as the first preacher of the gospel in Toulouse, where he was perhaps martyred towards the middle of the 3d century. The oldest part of the present building was consecrated by Urban II. in 1096. This church is now the largest edifice of southern France, being 375 feet from east to west and 217 feet in its utmost breadth. The nave (12th and 13th centuries) is remarkable for having double aisles. Four pillars, sup porting 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 corates," 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 very 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. The finest gate is on the south, and is surmounted by a fine representation of the Ascension in Byzantine style. The capitals of the St Sernin pillars are sometimes ornamented with leaves and sometimes with grotesque animals, &c. The belfry consists of five stories, of which the two highest are of later date, but harmonize very well with the three lower ones. The cathedral, dedicated to St Stephen, dates from three different epochs. The nave, commenced by Raymond VI. towards the beginning of the 13th century, still displays the sculptm-ed arms of its founder, and a few years ago preserved the pulpit in which St Bernard and St Dominic are said to have preached. The choir, commenced by Bertrand de Lille (c. 1272), was burned in 1609, but restored in the same century. It is sur rounded by seventeen chapels, which were finished by the Cardinal d Orleans, nephew of Louis XI, towards the beginning of the 16th century. These chapels are adorned with glass dating from the 15th to the 17th century. The great western gate 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 grand gate, which was once ornamented with the statues of St Sernin, St Exuperitis, 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. In the same way the choir and the nave have not the same axis.

Among other remarkable churches may be noticed those of St Pierre des Cuisines (12th century), with its beautifully sculptured capitals; of Notre Dame de la Daurade, near the Pont Neuf, built on the site of a 9th-century Benedictine abbey, but reconstructed in 1764; and of Notre Dame de la Dalbade, perhaps existing in the 11th century but in its present form dating from the 15th. The Eglise des Jacobins, held by Viollet le Due to be " one of the most beautiful brick churches constructed in the Middle Ages," was built towards the end of the 13th century, and originally con sisted of but one structure divided into two aisles by a range of columns. It has a beautiful octagonal belfry. Before the Revolution it contained the mausoleum of Thomas Aquinas. On the left of the Garonne stands the church of St Nicholas, also with an octagonal belfry and a spire dating from the 15th century. There are many other churches of considerable antiquity.

Of secular buildings the most noteworthy are the capitole, the museum, and the lycee. The capitole (16th-17th centuries) has a long Ionic facade constructed by Cammas (1750-60). 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 the busts of forty-four great natives of Toulouse; the word " native " has, however, been construed very liberally. In the capitole the Academic des Jeux Floraux holds its annual meetings. The museum (opened 1795) occupies the church and other buildings of the Augustinian convent (14th-15th cent.). It contains a splendid collection of antiquities arranged in two cloisters, and a collection of pictures. The natural history museum is at the Jardin des Plantes. The lycee occupies the group of buildings known as "Les Jacobins," the Hotel Bernui (16th century), &c. Here is the public library (65,000 volumes).

Toulouse is singularly rich in mansions of the 16th and 17th centuries. Several of these are richly adorned by Bachelier, Michelangelo's pupil. The Hotels d Assezat, de St Jean, Las Bordes, Felzins, Duranti, and Maison de Pierre may be specially mentioned. A few houses are said to date from the 14th century or even earlier. Near the Allee St Michel is the palais de justice, the old meeting house of the parlement of Toulouse. Close by was the old Chateau Narbonnais.

Besides its university, which ranks next to those of Paris and Lyons, and has faculties of law, science, letters, and medicine, Toulouse possesses many educational and learned societies, among which may be mentioned the Ecole des Beaux Arts et des Sciences Industrielles, the Ecole Normale, the Ecole de Musique, the Aca demies des Jeux Floraux, des Sciences et des Belles Lettreset Arts, and de Legislation, the Societe d'Agriculture, and the archaeological Societe du Midi.

The geographical position of Toulouse, on the plain of Languedoc, has made it the chief entrepot of the district for wine, corn, and almost all the industries of the neighbourhood. Besides the grind ing of flour, its leading industries are cabinetmaking, hat-making, calico printing, the manufacture of pots and pans, macaroni, and starch, leather-making (morocco), cloth and paper making, glassblowing, saddlery, and pottery. The tobacco factory occupies 1250 hands, and manufactures 1000 tons of snuff, a corresponding quantity of tobacco, and 250 tons of cigars annually.

The population of the city, 127,196 in 1881, numbered 133,775 in 1886, that of the commune being 147,617.

Tolosa (Toaffffa), 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 one incident in its early history gave rise to the famous Latin proverb "habet aurum Tolosanum (Aul. Cell., iiL c. 12). It was possessed of 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 miles 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 2d 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 taken 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 Sema, the leader of the Saracens from Spain (c. 715-20), but delivered by Eudo, "princeps Aquitaniffi," 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 un happy days of 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 Querci, 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 parent's estates; of these Raymond II., the elder (d. 924), became count of Toulouse, and Ermengaud, the younger, count of Rouergue, while the hereditary titles of Gothia, Querci, and Albi were shared between them. Raymond II. s grand son, 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, Querci, &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 (1098-1100). 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 witli 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 remorseless crusaders of Simon de Montfort. 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 Tolosse " 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 (judiccs 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 "domiui de capitulo," or, a little later, that of " capitulum nobilium." From the 13th century the consuls met in their own house, the palatium communitatis Tolosse " or hotel-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. Towards the end of the 16th century, during the wars of the League, it was split up into three different sections, sitting respectively at Carcassonne or Beziers, at Castel Sarrasin, and at Toulouse. The three were reunited in 1596. Under Francis I. it began to persecute heretics, and in 1618 rendered itself notorious by burning the philosopher Vanini. The univer sity 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 violet and other gold or silver flowers, given at the expense of the city, were instituted in 1323-24.

See, besides the various guide-books, De Vic and Vnissete, Histoire de Languedoc, ed. 1873 sq. Catel, Histoire de Toulouse, 1623; La Fuille, Histoire de Toulouse, 1687, 1701; Du Mège, Histoire des Institutions de Toulouse, 4 vols., 1844–46; D'Aldeguier, Histoire de la Ville de Toulouse, 1833-35. (T. A. A.)


  1. About 975 there was a partition of the estates which William Taillefer and his cousin Raymond II. of Auvergne held in common,—Albi, Querci, &c., falling to William, and Gothia, &c., to Raymond.
  2. List of the counts of Toulouse, mainly from De Vic and Vaissete:— Chorson 778-790 Raymond II.. 918-924 Raymond II I. 924-c 950 Bertrand 1096-1109 Alphonse-Jour dain 1109-1148 William 790-806 Berenger 817-835 Garsende, for her son c.950-c. 975 William Tail lefer C.975-C.1037 Pons 1037-1060 Raymond V... 1148-1194 Raymond VI.. 1194-1222 Raymond VII 1222-1249 Alfonso and Joan 1249-1271 Ecfrid 835-845 Fridolo ... 845-852 Raymond 1 852-864 Bernard 864-875 William IV... 1060-.1093 Raymond IV. 1093-1105 Eudo 875-918