MORLAIX, a town of western France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Finistere, 37 m. E.N.E. of Brest on the railway to Rennes. Pop. (1906), 13,875. Morlaix lies between 4 and 5 m. from the English Channel in a narrow valley where two small streams unite to form the Dossen, the channel of which forms its port. Below the town the river widens into an estuary, the mouth of which is commanded by an old fortress, the Chateau du Taureau, built in 1542 to protect the town against the English. The railway from Paris to Brest crosses the valley on a striking two-storeyed viaduct some 200 ft. above the quays. Morlaix contains a considerable number of wooden houses of the isth, 16th and 17th centuries. These have large covered courts, with huge open fireplaces and carved wooden staircases, supported on pillars, leading from the court to the upper storeys.
Morlaix has a sub-prefecture, tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a chamber of commerce, and colleges for boys and girls. The industries include the manufacture of tobacco occupying about 900 hands, tanning, brewing and the manufacture of casks, wooden shoes and candles; there is an active trade in grain, butter, oil-seeds, vegetables, leather, wax, honey and in horses and other livestock, which are exported by sea. The. port, consisting of an outer tidal harbour and an inner basin, admits vessels drawing 17 ft. at spring tides and 12 ft. at neap tides.
Judging by the numerous coins found on the spot, the site of Morlaix was probably occupied in the time of the Romans. The counts of Leon held the lordship in the 12th century, but the dukes of Brittany disputed possession with them, and in 1187 Henry II. of England, guardian of Arthur of Brittany, made himself master of the town after a siege of several weeks. During the Hundred Years' War Morlaix was held by the French and the English in turn, and pillaged by the latter in 1522. Queen Mary of Scots, on her way to be married to the dauphin, made solemn entry into Morlaix in 1548. The town having joined the League, the castle was taken by storm in the name of Henry IV. in 1594.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)