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Bourg-En-Bresse

BOURG-EN-BRESSE, a town of eastern France, capital of the department of Ain, and formerly capital of the province of Bresse, 36 m. N.N.E. of Lyons by the Paris-Lyon railway. Pop. (1906) town, 13,916; commune, 20,045. Bourg is situated at the western base of the Jura, on the left bank of the Reyssouze, a tributary of the Saône. The chief of the older buildings is the church of Notre-Dame (16th century), of which the façade belongs to the Renaissance; other parts of the church are Gothic. In the interior there are stalls of the 16th century. The other public buildings, including a handsome prefecture, are modern. The hôtel de ville contains a library and the Lorin museum with a collection of pictures, while another museum has a collection of the old costumes and ornaments characteristic of Bresse. Among the statues in the town there is one of Edgar Quinet (1803-1875), a native of Bourg. Bourg is the seat of a prefect and of a court of assizes, and has a tribunal of first instance, a tribunal and a chamber of commerce, and a branch of the Bank of France. Its educational establishments include lycées for boys and girls, and training colleges. The manufactures consist of iron goods, mineral waters, tallow, soap and earthenware, and there are flour mills and breweries; and there is considerable trade in grain, cattle and poultry. The church of Brou, a suburb of Bourg, is of great artistic interest. Marguerite of Bourbon, wife of Philibert II. of Savoy, had intended to found a monastery on the spot, but died before her intention could be carried into effect. The church was actually built early in the 16th century by her daughter-in-law Marguerite of Austria, wife of Philibert le Beau of Savoy, in memory of her husband. The exterior, especially the façade, is richly ornamented, but the chief interest lies in the works of art in the interior, which date from 1532. The most important are the three mausoleums with the marble effigies of Marguerite of Bourbon, Philibert le Beau, and Marguerite of Austria. All three are remarkable for perfection of sculpture and richness of ornamentation. The rood loft, the oak stalls, and the reredos in the chapel of the Virgin are masterpieces in a similar style.

Roman remains have been discovered at Bourg, but little is known of its early history. Raised to the rank of a free town in 1250, it was at the beginning of the 15th century chosen by the dukes of Savoy as the chief city of the province of Bresse. In 1535 it passed to France, but was restored to Duke Philibert Emmanuel, who later built a strong citadel, which afterwards withstood a six months' siege by the soldiers of Henry IV. The town was finally ceded to France in 1601. In 1814 the inhabitants, in spite of the defenceless condition of their town, offered resistance to the Austrians, who put the place to pillage.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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