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Lyons may refer to:




United States




  • Lyon's, a California restaurant chain
  • J. Lyons and Co., British food company, once proprietor of Lyons Corner Houses

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LYONS (Fr. Lyon), a city of eastern France, capital of the department of Rhone, 315 m. S.S.E. of Paris and 218 m. N. by W. of Marseilles on the Paris-Lyon railway. Pop. (1906) town, 430,186; commune, 47 2,114. Lyons, which in France is second only to Paris in commercial and military importance, is situated at the confluence of the Rhone and the Saone at an altitude of 54 0 to 1000 ft. above sea-level. The rivers, both flowing south, are separated on the north by the hill on which lies the populous working quarter of Croix-Rousse, then by the narrow tongue of land ending in the Perrache Quarter. The peninsula thus formed is over 3 m. long and from 650 to 1000 yds. broad. It is traversed lengthwise by the finest streets of the city, the rue de la Republique, the rue de l'Hotel de Ville, and the rue Victor Hugo. Where it enters Lyons the Saone has on its right the faubourg of Vaise and on its left that of Serin, whence the ascent is made to the top of the hill of Croix-Rousse. Farther on, its right bank is bordered by the scarped heights of Fourviere, St Irenee, Ste Foy, and St Just, leaving room only for the quays and one or two narrow streets; this is the oldest part of the city. The river sweeps in a semicircle around this eminence (410 ft. above it), which is occupied by convents, hospitals and seminaries, and has at its summit the famous church of Notre-Dame de Fourviere, the resort of many thousands of pilgrims annually.

On the peninsula between the rivers, at the foot of the hill of Croix-Rousse, are the principal quarters of the town: the Terreaux, containing the hotel de ville, and the chief commercial establishments; the wealthy residential quarter, centring round the Place Bellecour, one of the finest squares in France; and the Perrache. The Rhone and Saone formerly met on the site of this quarter, till, in the 18th century, the sculptor Perrache reclaimed it; on the peninsula thus formed stands the principal railway station, the Gare de Perrache with the Cours du Midi, the most extensive promenade in Lyons, stretching in front of it. Here, too, are the docks of the Saone, factories, the arsenal, gas-works and prisons. The Rhone, less confined than the Saone, flows swiftly in a wide channel, broken when the water is low in spring by pebbly islets. On the right hand it skirts first St Clair, sloping upwards to Croix-Rousse, and then the districts of Terreaux, Bellecour and Perrache; on the left it has a low-lying plain, occupied by the Parc de la Tete d'Or and the quarters of Brotteaux and Guillotiere. The park, together with its lake, comprises some 285 acres, and contains a zoological collection, botanical and pharmaceutical gardens, and the finest greenhouses in France, with unique collections of orchids, palm-trees and Cycadaceae. It is defended from the Rhone by the Quai de la Tete d'Or, while on the east the railway line to Geneva separates it from the race-course. Brotteaux is a modern residential quarter. Guillotiere to the south consists largely of workmen's dwellings, bordering wide, airy thoroughfares. To the east extend the manufacturing suburbs of Villeurbanne and Montchat. The population, displaced by the demolition of the lofty old houses and the widening of the streets on the peninsula, migrates to the left bank of the Rhone, the extension of the city into the plain of Dauphine being unhindered.

The Rhone and the Saone are bordered by fine quays and crossed by 24 bridges-1 r over the Rhone, 12 over the Saone, and 1 at the confluence. Of these the Pont du Change over the Saone and the Pont de la Guillotiere over the Rhone have replaced medieval bridges, the latter of the two preserving a portion of the old structure.

Of the ancient buildings Notre-Dame de Fourviere is the most celebrated. The name originally applied to a small chapel built in the 9th century on the site of the old forum (forum vetus) from which it takes its name. It has been often rebuilt, the chief feature being a modern Romanesque tower surmounted by a cupola and statue of the Virgin. In 1872 a basilica was begun at its side in token of the gratitude cf the city for having escaped occupation by the German troops. The building, finished in 1894, consists of a nave without aisles flanked at each exterior corner by a turret and terminating in an apse. The façade, the lower half of which is a lofty portico supported on four granite columns, is richly decorated on its. upper half with statuary and sculpture. Marble and mosaic have been lavishly used in the ornamentation of the interior and of the crypt. Round the apse runs a gallery from which, according to an old custom, a benediction is pronounced upon the town annually on the 8th of September. From this gallery a magnificent view of the city and the surrounding country can be obtained. At the foot of the hill of Fourviere rises the cathedral of St Jean, one of the finest examples of early Gothic architecture in France. Begun in the 12th century, to the end of which the transept and choir belong, it was not finished till the 15th century, the gable and flanking towers of the west front being completed in 1480. A triple portal surmounted by a line of arcades and a rose window gives entrance to the church. Two additional towers, that to the north containing one of the largest bells in France, rise at the extremities of the transept. The nave and choir contain fine stained glass of the 13th and 14th centuries as well as good modern glass. The chapel of St Louis or of Bourbon, to the right of the nave, is a masterpiece of Flamboyant Gothic. To the right and left of the altar stand two crosses preserved since the council of 1274 as a symbol of the union then agreed upon between the Greek and Latin churches. Adjoining St Jean is the ancient Manecanterie or singers' house, much mutilated and frequently restored, but still preserving graceful Romanesque arcades along its front. St Martin d'Ainay, on the peninsula, is the oldest church in Lyons, dating from the beginning of the 6th century and subsequently attached to a Benedictine abbey. It was rebuilt in the 10th and i ith centuries and restored in modern times, and is composed of a nave with four aisles, a transept and choir terminating in three semicircular apses ornamented with paintings by Hippolyte Flandrin, a native of Lyons. The church is surmounted by two towers, one in the middle of the west front, the other at the crossing; the four columns supporting the latter are said to have come from an altar to Augustus. A mosaic of the 12th century, a high altar decorated with mosaic work and a beautifully carved confessional are among the works of art in the interior. St Nizier, in the heart of the city, was the first cathedral of Lyons; and the crypt in which St Pothinus officiated still exists. The present church is a Gothic edifice of the 15th century, with the exception of the porch, constructed by Philibert Delorme, a native of Lyons, in the 16th century. The Church of St Paul (12th and 15th centuries), situated on the right bank of the SaOne, preserves an octagonal central tower and other portions of Romanesque architecture; that of St Bonaventure, originally a chapel of the Cordeliers, was rebuilt in the 15th and 19th centuries. With the exception of the imposing prefecture, the vast buildings of the faculties, which are in the Guillotiere quarter, and the law court, the colonnade of which overlooks the SaOne from its right bank, the chief civil buildings are in the vicinity of the Place des Terreaux. The east side of this square (so called from the terreaux or earth with which the canal formerly connecting the Rhone and the SaOne hereabouts was filled) is formed by the hotel de ville (17th century), the east façade of which, towards the Grand Theatre, is the more pleasing. The south side of the square is occupied by the Palais des Arts, built in the 17th century as a Benedictine convent and now accommodating the school of fine arts, the museums of painting and sculpture, archaeology and natural history, and the library of science, arts and industry. The museums are second in importance only to those of Paris. The collection of antiquities, rich in Gallo-Roman inscriptions, contains the bronze tablets discovered in 1528, on which is engraved a portion of a speech delivered in A.D. 48, by the emperor Claudius, advocating the admission of citizens of Gallia Comata to the Roman senate. The "Ascension," a masterpiece of Perugino, is the chief treasure of the art collection, in which are works by nearly all the great masters. A special gallery contains the works of artists of Lyons, among whom are numbered Antoine Berjon, Meissonier, Paul Chenavard, Puvis de Chavannes. In the Rue de la Republique, between the Place de la Bourse and the Place des Cordeliers, each of which contains one of its highly ornamented fronts, stands the Palais du Commerce et de la Bourse, the finest of the modern buildings of Lyons. The Bourse (exchange) has its offices on the ground floor round the central glass-roofed hall; the upper storeys accommodate the commercial tribunal, 'the council of trade arbitration, the chamber of commerce and the Musk historique des Tissus, in which the history of the weaving industry is illustrated by nearly 400,000 examples. In the buildings of the lycee on the right bank of the Rhone are the municipal library and a collection of globes, among them the great terrestrial globe made at Lyons in 1701, indicating the great African lakes.

The Hotel Dieu, instituted according to tradition in the beginning of the 6th century by King Childebert, is still one of the chief charitable establishments in the city. The present building dates from the 18th century; its façade, fronting the west quay of the Rhone for over 1000 ft., was begun according to the designs of Soufflot, architect of the Pantheon at Paris. The Hospice de la Charite and the military hospital are on the same bank slightly farther down stream. The Hospice de l'Antiquaille, at Fourviere, occupies the site of the palace of the praetorian prefects, in which Germanicus, Claudius and Caracalla were born. Each of these hospitals contains more than 1000 beds. Lyons has many other benevolent institutions, and is also the centre of the operations of the Societe de la Propagation de la Foi. The chief monuments are the equestrian statue of Louis XIV. in the Place Bellecour, the monuments of President Carnot, Marshal Suchet, the physicist Andre-Marie Ampere, and those in honour of the Republic and in memory of the citizens of the department who fell in the war of 1870-71. The most noteworthy fountain is that in the Place des Terreaux with the leaden group by Bartholdi representing the rivers on their way to the ocean.

There are Roman remains - baths, tombs and the relics of a theatre - in the St Just quarter on the right bank of the SaOne. Three ancient aqueducts on the Fourviere level, from Montromant, Mont d'Or and Mont Pilat, can still be traced. Magnificent remains of the latter work may be seen at St Irenee and Chaponost. Traces also exist along the Rhone of a subterranean canal conveying the water of the river to a naumachia (lake for mimic sea-fights). Agrippa made Lyons the starting-point of the principal Roman roads throughout Gaul; and it remains an important centre in the general system of communication owing to its position on the natural highway from north to south-eastern France. The SaOne above the town and the Rhone below have large barge and steamboat traffic. The main line of the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranee railway runs first through the station at Vaise, on the right bank of the SaOne, and thence to that of Perrache, the chief station in the city. The line next in importance, that to Geneva, has its station in the Brotteaux quarter, and the line of the eastern Lyonnais to St Genix d'Aoste has a terminus at Guillotiere; both these lines link up with the Paris-Lyon main line. The railway to Montbrison starts from the terminus of St Paul in Fourviere and that to Bourg, Trevoux and the Dombes region from the station of Croix-Rousse. A less important line to Vaugneray and Mornant has a terminus at St Just. Besides the extensive system of street tramways, cable tramways (ficelles) run to the summits of the eminences of Croix-Rousse, Fourviere and St Just.

Lyons is, next to Paris, the principal fortress of the interior of France, and, like the capital, possesses a military governor. The immediate protection of the city is provided for on the east side by a modern enceinte, of simple trace, in the plain (subsidiary to this is a group of fairly modern detached forts forming an advanced position at the village of Bron), and on the west by a line of detached forts, not of recent design, along the high ground on the right bank of the SaOne. Some older forts and a portion of the old enceinte are still kept up in the city itself, and two of these forts, Montessuy and Caluire, situated on the peninsula, serve with their annexes to connect the northern extremities of the two lines above mentioned. The main line of defence is as usual the outer fort-ring, the perimeter of which is more than 40 m., and the mean distance from the centre of the city 61 m. This naturally divides into four sections. In Defence. the eastern plain, well in advance of the enceinte, eight principal sites have been fortified, Feyzin, Corbas, St Priest, Genas, Azieu, Meyzieux, Decines and Chaurant. These form a semicircle from the lower to the upper reaches of the Rhone. The northern (or north eastern) section, between the Rhone and the SaOne, has forts Neyron and Vancia as its principal defences; these and their subsidiary batteries derive some additional support from the forts Montessuy and Caluire mentioned above. On the north-west side there is a strong group of works disposed like a redan, of which the salient, fort Verdun and annexes, is on the high plateau of Mont d'Or pointing northward, and the faces, represented by forts Freta and Paillet, are lower down on the spurs of the ridge, facing north-east and northwest respectively. The south-western section comprises three principal groups, Bruisson, Cote-Lorette and Montcorin-Champvillard, the last-named crossing its fire over the Lower Rhone with Fort Feyzin. Lastly a connecting battery was built near Chapoly in 1895 to close the gap between the north-western and south-western sections and to command the westward approaches by the valley of Charbonnieres.

Lyons is the headquarters of the XIV. army-corps, the seat of an archbishop who holds the title of primate of the Gauls and also that of archbishop of Vienne, and of a prefect, a court of appeal, a court of assizes, tribunals of commerce and of first instance, and of two boards of trade arbitration (conseils de prud'hommes). It is the centre of an academie (educational division) and has a university with faculties of law, letters, science and medicine and pharmacy. There are also Catholic faculties (facultes libres) of law, theology, science and letters, three lycees, training colleges for teachers and numerous minor educational establishments. There are besides many special schools at Lyons, the more important being the school of fine arts which was founded in the 18th century to train competent designers for the textile manufactures, but has also done much for painting and sculpture; an army medical school, schools of drawing, agriculture, music, commerce (ecole superieure de commerce), weaving, tanning, watch-making and applied chemistry, and the ecoles La Martiniere for free instruction in science and art as applied to industry. The veterinary school, instituted in 1761, was the first of its kind in Europe; its laboratory for the study of comparative physiology is admirably equipped. Besides the Academie des Sciences, Belles Lettres et Arts (founded in 1700), Lyons possesses societies of agriculture. natural history, geography, horticulture, &c.

Its trade in silk and silk goods has formed the basis of the prosperity of Lyons for several centuries. Derived from Italy, this industry rapidly developed, thanks to the monopoly granted to the city in 1450 by Charles VII. and to the patronage of Francis I., Henry II. and Henry IV. From time to time new kinds of fabrics were invented - silk stuffs woofed with wool or with gold and silver threads, shawls, watered silks, poplins, velvets, satinades, moires, &c. In the beginning of the 19th century J. M. Jacquard introduced his famous loom by which a single workman was enabled to produce elaborate fabrics as easily as the plainest web, and by changing the "cartoons" to make the most different textures on the same looms. In the 17th century the silk manufacture employed at Lyons, 9000 to 12,000 looms. After the revocation of the edict of Nantes the number sank to 3000 or 4000; but after the Reign of Terror was past it rose again about 1801 to 12,000. Towards the middle of the 19th century the weaving branch of the industry began to desert Lyons for the surrounding districts. The city remains the business centre for the trade and carries on dyeing, printing and other accessory processes. Lyons disputes with Milan the position of the leading silk market of Europe. In 1905 the special office (la Condition des soies) which determines the weight of the silk examined over 4700 tons of silk. France furnished barely one-tenth of this quantity, two-thirds came from China and Japan, the rest from Italy and the Levant. The traders of Lyons re-export seven-twelfths of these silks, the industries of the town employing the remainder. An almost equal quantity of cotton, wool and waste-silk threads is mixed with the silk. A few thousand hand-looms are still worked in the town, more especially producing the richest materials, 50,000 or 55,000 in the surrounding districts, and some 33,000 machine looms in the suburbs and neighbouring departments. Allied industries such as dyeing, finishing and printing, employ 12,000 workers. Altogether 300,000 workpeople depend upon the silk industry. In 1905 the total value of the manufacture was £15,710,000, the chief items being pure silk textures (plain) £ 3,33 6, 000; textures of silk mixed with other materials £3,180,000; silk and foulards £1,152,000; muslins £3,800,000, this product having increased from £100,000 in 1894. Speaking roughly the raw material represents half the value, and the value of the labour the remaining half. About 30 io of the silk goods of Lyons finds a market in France. Great Britain imported them to the value of over £6,000,000, and the United States to the value of over £1,600,000, notwithstanding the heavy duty. The dyeing industry and the manufacture of chemicals have both developed considerably to meet the requirements of the silk trade. Large quantities of mineral and vegetable colouring matters are produced and there is besides a large output of glue, gelatine, superphosphates and phosphorus, all made from bones and hides, of picric, tartaric, sulphuric and hydrochloric acids, sulphates of iron and copper, and pharmaceutical and other chemical products.

Lyons does a large trade in metals, iron, steel and copper, and utilizes them in the manufacture of iron buildings, framework, bridges, machinery, railway material, scales, metal cables, pins and needles, copper-founding and the making of clocks and bronzes. Gold and silver-working is of importance, especially for embroidery and articles used in religious ceremonies. Other industries are those of printing, the manufacture of glass goods, of tobacco (by the state), the preparation of hides and skins (occupying 20,000 workmen), those connected with the miller's trade, the manufacture of various forms of dried flour-paste (macaroni, vermicelli, &c.), brewing, hat-making, the manufacture of chocolate, and the pork-butcher's industry. Apart from the dealings in silk and silk goods, trade is in cloth, coal and charcoal, metals and metal goods, wine and spirits, cheese and chestnuts. Four miles south-west of Lyons is Oullins (pop. 9859) which has the important works of the Paris-Lyon railway.

Lyons is the seat of important financial companies; of the Credit Lyonnais, which does business to the amount of £200,000,000 annually in Lyons alone; also of coal and metallurgical companies and gas companies. the former extending their operations as far as Russia, the latter lighting numerous towns in France and foreign countries.


The earliest Gallic occupants of the territory at the confluence of the Rhone and the Saline were the Segusians. In 59 B.C. some Greek refugees from the banks of the Herault, having obtained permission of the natives to establish themselves beside the Croix-Rousse, called their new town by the Gallic name Lugudunum or Lugdunum; and in 43 B.C. Lucius Munatius Plancus brought a Roman colony to Fourvieres from Vienne. This settlement soon acquired importance, and was made by Agrippa the starting-point of four great roads. Augustus, besides building aqueducts, temples and a theatre, gave it a senate and made it the seat of an annual assembly of deputies from the sixty cities of Gallia Comata. At the same time the place became the Gallic centre for the worship of Rome and the emperor. Under the emperors the colony of Forum Vetus and the municipium of Lugdunum were united, receiving the jus senatus. The town was burnt in A.D. 59 and afterwards rebuilt in a much finer style with money given by Nero; it was also adorned by Trajan, Adrian and Antoninus. The martyrdom of Pothinus and Blandina occurred under Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 177), and some years later a still more savage persecution of the Christians took place under Septimius Severus, in which Irenaeus, according to some authors, perished.

After having been ravaged by the barbarians and abandoned by the empire, Lyons in 478 became capital of the kingdom of the B. urgundians. It afterwards fell into the hands of the Franks, and suffered severely from the Saracens, but revived under Charlemagne, and after the death of Charles the Bald became part of the kingdom of Provence. From 1032 it was a. fief of the emperor of Germany. Subsequently the authority over the town was a subject of dispute between the archbishops. of Lyons and the counts of Forez; but the supremacy of the French kings was established under Philip the Fair in 1312. The citizens were constituted into a commune ruled by freely elected consuls (1320). - In the 13th century two ecclesiastical councils were held at Lyons - one in 12 4 5, presided over by Innocent IV., at which the emperor Frederick II. was deposed; the second, the oecumenical, under the presidency of Gregory X., in 1274, at which five hundred bishops met. Pope Clement V. was crowned here in 1305, and his successor, John XXII., elected in 1316. The Protestants obtained possession of the place in 1562; their acts of violence were fiercely avenged in 1572 after the St Bartholomew massacre. Under Henry III. Lyons. sided with the League; but it pronounced in favour of Henry IV. The executions of Henri d'Effiat, marquis of Cinq-Mars, and of Francois de Thou, who had plotted to overthrow Richelieu, took place on the Place des Terreaux in 1642. In 179 3 the Royalists and Girondists, powerful in the city, rose against the Convention, but were compelled to yield to the army of the republic under General Kellermann after enduring a siege of seven weeks (October so). Terrible chastisement ensued: the name of Lyons was changed to that of Ville-affranchie; the demolition of its buildings was set about on a wholesale scale; and vast numbers of the proscribed, whom the scaffold had spared, were butchered with grape shot. The town resumed its old name after the fall of Robespierre, and the terrorists in their turn were drowned in large numbers in the Rhone. Napoleon. rebuilt the Place Bellecour, reopened the churches. and made the bridge of Tilsit over the Saone between Bellecour and the cathedral. In 1814 and 1815 Lyons was occupied by the Austrians. In 1831, 1834, 1849, 1870 and 1871 it was the scene of violent industrial or political disturbances. In 1840 and 1856 disastrous floods laid waste portions of the city. International exhibitions were held here in 1872 and 1894, the latter occasion being marked by the assassination of President Carnot.

See S. Charlety, Histoire de Lyon (Lyon, 1903); Godart,, L'Ouvrier en soie. Monographie du tisseur lyonnais (Lyon, 18 99); A. Vachet, A travers les rues de Lyon (Lyon, 1902); A. Steyert, Nouvelle Histoire de Lyon et des provinces de Lyonnais Forez,. Beaujolais (3 vols., Lyon, 1895-1899).

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  1. A city in France, the capital of the Rhône-Alpes région.



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