1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Agen

AGEN, a city of south-western France, capital of the department of Lot-et-Garonne, 84 m. S.E. of Bordeaux by the Southern railway between Bordeaux and Toulouse. Pop. (1906) 18,640. It is skirted on the west by the Garonne itself, and on the north by its lateral canal. The river is crossed by a stone bridge, by a suspension bridge for foot-passengers, and by a fine canal bridge, carrying the lateral canal. Pleasant promenades stretch for some distance along the right bank. The town is a medley of old narrow streets contrasting with the wide modern boulevards which cross it at intervals. The chief building in Agen is the cathedral of St Caprais, the most interesting portion of which is the apse of the 12th century with its three apse-chapels; the transept dates from the 12th and 13th centuries, the nave from the 14th to the 16th centuries; the tower flanking the south façade is modern. The interior is decorated with modern paintings and frescoes. There are several other churches, among them the church of the Jacobins, a brick building of the 13th century, and the church of St Hilaire of the 16th century, which has a modern tower. In the prefecture, a building of the 18th century, once the bishop's palace, is a collection of historical portraits. The hôtel de ville occupies the former Hôtel du Presidial, an obsolete tribunal, and contains the municipal library. Two houses of the 16th century, the Hôtel d’Estrades and the Hôtel de Vaurs, are used as the museum, which has a rich collection of fossils, prehistoric and Roman remains, and other antiquities and curiosities. The poet Jacques Jasmin was a native of the town, which has erected a statue to him. Through its excellent water communication it affords an outlet for the agricultural produce of the district, and forms an entrepôt of trade between Bordeaux and Toulouse. Agen is the seat of a bishop. It is the seat of a court of appeal and a court of assizes, and has tribunals of first instance and of commerce and a chamber of commerce. There are also ecclesiastical seminaries, lycées for boys and girls, training-colleges, a school of commerce and industry, and a branch of the Bank of France. Agen is the market for a rich agricultural region. The chief articles of commerce are fattened poultry, prunes (pruneaux d’Agen) and other fruit, cork, wine, vegetables and cattle. Manufactures include flour, dried plums, pâté de foie gras and other delicacies, hardware, manures, brooms, drugs, woven goods tiles.

Agen (Aginnum) was the capital Of the Celtic tribe of the Nitiobroges, and the discovery of extensive ruins attests its importance under the Romans. In later times it was the capital of the Agenais. Its bishopric was founded in the 4th century. Agen changed hands more than once in the course of the Albigensian wars, and at their close a tribunal of inquisition was established in the town and inflicted cruel persecution on the heretics. During the religious wars of the 16th century Agen took the part of the Catholics and openly joined the League in 1589.

See Labenazie, Histoire de la ville d’Agen et pays d'Agenois, ed. by A.-G. de Dampierre (1888); A. Ducom, La Commune d’Agen: essai sur son histoire et son organisation depuis son origine jusqu’au traité de Brétigny (1892).