Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/352

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

and decided that in any further cases of misconduct by his soldiers these should be tried by a court composed of the wives of the Gauls.

The Romans, when they occupied the land, neglected Illiberis, and planted a colony at Ruscino. The town dwindled to insignificance till Constantine refounded it and called it after the name of his mother, Helena; and this is the name it now bears, transformed into Elne. It was the scene of the assassination of Constans, the son of the great Constantine. He was an indolent, weak, and debauched prince, monarch of the West. Whilst hunting in Gaul he received tidings of the revolt of Magnentius, that the soldiers had mutinied, and that emissaries had been dispatched to kill him. He fled to Illiberis, but was overtaken here and put to death in 350, in the thirtieth year of his reign.

Devastated by the Arabs, we do not hear of a bishop of Elne till 783. After that the lordship of Elne was shared between the bishop and the chapter. The seat of the bishop was removed to Perpignan in 1602.

Elne occupies a sandstone rock, about which this town is built, and is divided into the upper and the lower town. It is a dull and sleepy place, that wakens into life only on the festival of SS. Eulalia and Julia, when there is much merrymaking with processions, music, and dancing. Portions of the walls and some of the gates remain; but the great object of interest is the cathedral, with its superb cloisters of white marble. The exact date of the rebuilding is not known, but the church was complete in 1069. Externally it is constructed of rubble stone in herring-bone, set in mortar. The west front has a crenellated gable between two towers of unequal size and height. The loftiest is a bold structure that has had buttresses added to it much later, in 1415. The