EMBRUN, a town in the department of the Hautes Alpes in S.E. France. It is built at a height of 2854 ft. on a plateau that rises above the right bank of the Durance. It is 27 m. by rail from Briançon and 24 m. from Gap. Its ramparts were demolished in 1884. In 1906 the communal pop. (including the garrison) was 3752. Besides the Tour Brune (11th century) and the old archiepiscopal palace, now occupied by government offices, barracks, etc., the chief object of interest in Embrun is its splendid cathedral church, which dates from the second half of the 12th century. Above its side door, called the Réal, there existed till 1585 (when it was destroyed by the Huguenots) a fresco, probably painted in the 13th century, representing the Madonna: this was the object of a celebrated pilgrimage for many centuries. Louis XI. habitually wore on his hat a leaden image of this Madonna, for which he had a very great veneration, since between 1440 and 1461, during the lifetime of his father, he had been the dauphin, and as such ruler of this province.
Embrun was the Eburodunum or Ebredunum of the Romans, and the chief town of the province of the Maritime Alps. The episcopal see was founded in the 4th century, and became an archbishopric about 800. In 1147 the archbishops obtained from the emperor Conrad III. very extensive temporal rights, and the rank of princes of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1232 the county of the Embrunais passed by marriage to the dauphins of Viennois. In 1791 the archiepiscopal see was suppressed, the region being then transferred to the diocese of Gap, so that the once metropolitan cathedral church is now simply a parish church. The town was sacked in 1585 by the Huguenots and in 1692 by the duke of Savoy. Henri Arnaud (1641-1721), the Waldensian pastor and general, was born at Embrun.
See A. Albert, Histoire du diocèse d'Embrun (2 vols., Embrun, 1783); M. Fornier, Histoire générale des Alpes Maritimes ou Cottiennes et particulière de leur métropolitaine Embrun (written 1626-1643), published by the Abbé Paul Guillaume (3 vols., Paris and Gap, 1890-1891); A. Fabre, Recherches historiques sur le pèlerinage des rois de France à N.D. d'Embrun (Grenoble, 1859); A. Sauret, Essai historique sur la ville d'Embrun (Gap, 1860).
(W. A. B. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)