BAR-LE-DUC, a town of north-eastern France, capital of the department of Meuse, 50 m. E.S.E. of Châlons-sur-Marne, on the main line of the Eastern railway between that town and Nancy. Pop. (1906) 14,624. The lower, more modern and busier part of the town extends along a narrow valley, shut in by wooded or vine-clad hills, and is traversed throughout its length by the Ornain, which is crossed by several bridges. It is limited towards the north-east by the canal from the Marne to the Rhine, on the south-west by a small arm of the Ornain, called the Canal des Usines, on the left bank of which the upper town (Ville Haute) is situated. The Ville Haute, which is reached by staircases and steep narrow thoroughfares, is intersected by a long, quiet street, bordered by houses of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. In this quarter are the remains (16th century) of the château of the dukes of Bar, dismantled in 1670, the old clock-tower and the college, built in the latter half of the 16th century. Its church of St Pierre (14th and 15th centuries) contains a skilfully-carved effigy in white stone of a half-decayed corpse, the work of Ligier Richier (1500-1572), a pupil of Michelangelo - erected to the memory of René de Châlons (d. 1544). The lower town contains the official buildings and two or three churches, but these are of little interest. Among the statues of distinguished natives of the town is one to Charles Nicolas Oudinot, whose house serves as the hôtel-de-ville. Bar-le-Duc has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a board of trade arbitrators, a lycée, a training-college for girls, a chamber of commerce, a branch of the Bank of France and an art museum. The industries of the town include iron-founding and the manufacture of machinery, corsets, hosiery, flannel goods, jam and wall-paper, and brewing, cotton spinning and weaving, leather-dressing and dyeing. Wine, timber and iron are important articles of commerce.
Bar-le-Duc was at one time the seat of the countship, later duchy, of Bar, the history of which is given below. Though probably of ancient origin, the town was unimportant till the 10th century when it became the residence of the counts.
Counts and Dukes of Bar. In the middle of the 10th century the territory of Bar (Barrois) formed a dependency of the Empire. In the 11th century its lords were only counts by title; they belonged to the house of Mousson (which also possessed the countships of Montbéliard and Ferrette), and usually fought in the French ranks, while their neighbours, the dukes of Lorraine, adhered to the German side. Theobald I., count of Bar, was an ally of Philip Augustus, as was also his son Henry II., who distinguished himself at the battle of Bouvines in 1214. But sometimes the counts of Bar bore arms against France. In 1301 Henry III. having made an alliance with Edward I. of England, whose daughter he had married, was vanquished by Philip the Fair, who forced him to do homage for a part of Barrois, situated west of the Meuse, which was called Barrois mouvant. In 1354 Robert, count of Bar, who had married the daughter of King John, was made marquis of Pont-à-Mousson by the emperor Charles IV. and took the title of duke of Bar. His successor, Edward III., was killed at Agincourt in 1415. In 1419 Louis of Bar, brother of the last-named, a cardinal and bishop of Châlons, gave the duchy of Bar to René of Anjou, the grandson of his sister Yolande, who married Isabella, duchess of Lorraine. Yolande of Anjou, who in 1444 had married Ferri of Lorraine, count of Vaudémont, became heiress of Nicholas of Anjou, duke of Calabria and of Lorraine, in 1473, and of René of Anjou, duke of Bar, in 1480; thus Lorraine, with Barrois added to it, once more returned to the family of its ancient dukes. United with Lorraine to France in 1634, Barrois remained, except for short intervals, part of the royal domain. It was granted in 1738 to Stanislaus Leszczynski, ex-king of Poland, and on his death in 1766 was once more attached to the crown of France.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)