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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Fougères

FOUGÈRES, a town of north-western France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Ille-et-Vilaine, 30 m. N.E. of Rennes by rail. Pop. (1906) 21,847. Fougères is built on the summit and slopes of a hill on the left bank of the Nançon, a tributary of the Couesnon. It was formerly one of the strongest places on the frontier towards Normandy, and it still preserves some portions of its medieval fortifications, notably a gateway of the 15th century known as the Porte St Sulpice. The castle, which is situated in the lower part of the town, directly overlooking the Nançon, is now a picturesque ruin, but gives abundant evidence in its towers and outworks of its former strength and magnificence. The finest of the towers was erected in 1242 by Hugues of Lusignan, and named after Mélusine, the mythical foundress of the family. The churches of St Léonard and St Sulpice both date, at least in part, from the 15th century. An hôtel de ville and a belfry, both of the 15th century, are of architectural interest, and the town possesses many curious old houses. There is a statue of General B. de Lari Coisière (d. 1812), born in the town. Fougères is the seat of a subprefect, and has a tribunal of first instance, a chamber of commerce and a communal college. It is the chief industrial town of its department, being a centre for the manufacture of boots and shoes; tanning and leather-dressing and the manufacture of sail-cloth and other fabrics are also important industries. Trade is in dairy produce and in the granite of the neighbouring quarries. Fougères frequently figures in Breton history from the 11th to the 15th century. It was taken by the English in 1166, and again in 1448; and the name of Surienne, the captor on the second occasion, is still borne by one of the towers of the castle. In 1488 it was taken by the troops of Charles VIII. under la Trémoille. In the middle ages Fougères was a lordship of some importance, which in the 13th century passed into the possession of the family of Lusignan, and in 1307 was confiscated by the crown and afterwards changed hands many times. In 1793, during the wars of the Vendée, it was occupied by the insurgents.