Verdun  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Verdun is a small city in the Meuse department in Grand Est in northeastern France. It is an arrondissement of the department.

Verdun is the biggest city in Meuse, although the capital of the department is Bar-le-Duc which is slightly smaller than Verdun. It is well known for giving its name to a major battle of the First World War.

History

Verdun (Verodunum, a latinisation of a place name meaning "strong fort") was founded by the Gauls. It has been the seat of the bishop of Verdun since the 4th century, with interruptions. In 486, following the decisive Frankish victory at the Battle of Soissons, the city (amongst several other nearby cities) refused to yield to the Franks and was thus besieged by King Clovis I. The 843 Treaty of Verdun divided Charlemagne's empire into three parts.

At around this time Verdun was the centre of a Europe-wide thriving trade selling young boys to be enslaved eunuchs to the Islamic emirates of Iberia.

Verdun is also famous for its Dragées or sugared almonds from 1200 onward; they were distributed at the baptism of French princes.

Verdun was part of the middle kingdom of Lotharingia, and in 1374 it became a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. The Bishopric of Verdun formed together with Tull (Toul) and Metz the Three Bishoprics, which were annexed by France in 1552 (recognized in 1648 by the Peace of Westphalia).

From 1624 to 1636, a large bastioned citadel was constructed on the site of the Abbey of Saint Vanne. In 1670, Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban visited Verdun and drew up an ambitious scheme to fortify the whole city. Although much of his plan was built in the following decades, some of the elements were not completed until after the Napoleonic Wars. Despite the extensive fortifications, Verdun was captured by the Prussians in 1792 during the War of the First Coalition, but abandoned by them after the Battle of Valmy. During the Napoleonic War, the citadel was used to hold British prisoners of war.

In the Franco-Prussian War, Verdun was the last French fortress to surrender in 1870. Shortly afterwards, a new system of fortification was begun. This consisted of a mutually supporting ring of 22 polygonal forts up to Template:Convert from the city, and an inner ring of 6 forts.

Landmarks

The Châtel Gate is the only remaining part of the medieval city walls. It leads onto La Roche Square.

La Citadelle was built in the 17th Century. It is still in military hands but the underlying tunnels can be visited.

Notre-Dame de Verdun Cathedral was consecrated in 1147 but was built on the site of an earlier church. The 12th Century Lion Door on the north side has a lavishly decorated tympanum. The whole building was heavily restored in the 18th Century.

The Episcopal Palace was built in the 18th Century by Robert de Cotte and has a fine façade. Part of the building is occupied by the World Peace Centre.

The Princerie Museum is located in the former residence of the Primicier (the highest-ranking public servant) of Verdun. It contains historic work of art from the region.

The "Subterrean Citadel" is situated at the entrance of Verdun. It holds Template:Convert of shafts that used to accommodate soldiers during the war.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Verdun" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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