VANNES, a town of western France, capital of the department of Morbihan, 84 m. N.W. of Nantes on the railway to Brest. Pop. (1906), town, 16,728; commune, 23,561. It is situated 10 m. from the open sea, at the confluence of two streams forming the Vannes river, which debouches into the land-locked Gulf of Morbihan about a mile below the town. The narrow, steep and crooked streets of the old town, which lie on a hill facing the south, are surrounded by fortifications of the 14th, 15th and 17th centuries, pierced by four gates and flanked by nine towers and five bastions, connected by battlements. In the Constable's Tower Olivier de Clisson was confined in 1387. The modern suburbs, with the port, the public buildings, barracks, convents, squares and promenades, notably the Garenne and the park of the Prefecture, surround the old town. The archaeological museum, the contents of which are mainly the fruit of excavations at Carnac and elsewhere in the vicinity, includes one of the richest collections of prehistoric remains in Europe. There are also a museum of natural history and a library. The cathedral of St Peter overlooks the old town; burnt by the Normans in the 10th century, it was rebuilt in the Ijth, isth and 18th centuries. It has remains of a cloister and contains the relics and tomb of the Spanish Dominican preacher St Vincent Ferrier, who died at Vannes in 1419. The curious round Chapelle du Pardon to the left of the nave was built in 1537 in the Italian style. Some interesting old houses, including that of the presidents of the parlement of Brittany, the rich private collections of M. de Limur, and the church of St Paterne (18th .century) are also worthy of mention. There is a monument to Le Sage, born near Vannes. Vannes is the seat of a prefect, a bishop and a court of assizes, and has tribunals of first instance and of commerce and a branch of the Bank of France. A communal college is among the educational institutions. Among the industries are building, tanning and cottonweaving. The port of Vannes, to the south of the town, is formed by the Vannes river and is accessible only to small vessels. Vessels of 800 tons can make the harbour of Conleau about 2\ m. from the town.
Vannes (Dariorigum) , the capital of the Veneti (whence Gwened, the Breton name of the town), was at the head of the Armorican league against Julius Caesar, who in 56 B.C. overcame their fleet and opened up their country by six roads. St Paternus, the first bishop, was consecrated in 465. In the 5th century Vannes was ruled for a time by independent counts, VAN RENSSELAER VAN'T HOFF but soon came under the yoke of the Franks. Nomenoe, the lieutenant of Louis I., the Pious, in Brittany, assumed the title of king hi 843, and one of his brothers was the founder of a line of counts who distinguished themselves against the Normans in the 9th and loth centuries. Vannes became part of the duchy of Brittany at the end of the 1cth century. The estates of Brittany met there for the first time in 1203 to urge Philip Augustus to avenge the death of Arthur of Brittany. In the course of the War of Succession the town was besieged four times in 1342. Duke John IV. built here the castle of L'Hermine and made it his habitual residence. In 1487 the town was for a year hi the hands of Charles VIII. of France. In 1532 Brittany was definitively united to France. The estates met at Vannes several times in the 17th and 18th centuries. During the Revolution this town was the scene of the execution in 1795 of some of the prisoners after the royalist disaster at Quiberon.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)