1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Vienne (town)

VIENNE, the chief town of an arrondissement of the department of the Isère, France. Historically the first, it is by population (24,619 in 1901) the second city of the department of the Isère, after Grenoble; and the third, after Valence, of the Dauphiné. It is situated on the left bank of the Rhone just below the junction of the Gère with the Rhone, and about 20 m. by rail S. of Lyons. On the N., E. and S. the town is sheltered by low hills, the Rhone flowing along its western side. Its site is an immense mass of ancient débris, which is constantly yielding interesting antiquities. On the bank of the Gère are traces of the ramparts of the old Roman city, and on the Mont Pipet (E. of the town) are the remains of an amphitheatre, while the ruined castle there was built in the 13th century on Roman substructures. Several of the ancient aqueducts (one only is now actually in use) are still to be seen, while in the neighbourhood of the city some bits of the old Roman roads may still be found.

The streets of the town are narrow and tortuous, but it possesses two Roman monuments of the first class. One is the temple of Augusta and Livia, a rectangular building of the Corinthian order, erected by the emperor Claudius, and inferior only to the Maison Carrée at Nîmes. From the 5th century to 1793 it was a church (Notre Dame de Vie), and the “festival of reason” was celebrated in it at the time of the Revolution. The other, in the more modern part of the town, is the Plan de l'Aiguille, a truncated quadrangular pyramid about 52 ft. in height and resting on a portico with four arches. Many theories have been advanced as to what this singular structure really was (some imagine that it was the tomb of Pontius Pilatus, who, according to the legend, died at Vienne), but it is now generally believed to have been part of the spina of a large circus, the outlines of which have been traced. The church of St Peter belonged to an ancient Benedictine abbey and was rebuilt in the 9th century. It is in the earliest Romanesque style, and forms a basilica, with tall square piers, reminding one of Lucca, while the two ranges of windows in the aisles, with their coupled marble columns, recall Ravenna from within and the Basse Œuvre of Beauvais from without. The porch is in the earliest Romanesque style. This church has of late years been completely restored, and since 1895 shelters the magnificent Musée Lapidaire (formerly housed in the temple of Augusta and Livia). The former cathedral church (primatial as well as metropolitan) of St Maurice contains some of the best forms of the true N. Gothic, and was constructed at various periods between 1052 and 1533. It is a basilica, with three aisles, but no apse or transepts. It is 315 ft. in length, 118 ft. wide and 89 in height. The most striking portion is the W. front (1533), which rises majestically from a terrace overhanging the Rhone. But the statuary was much injured by the Protestants in 1562. The church of St André le Bas was the church of a second Benedictine monastery, and later the chapel of the earlier kings of Provence. It was rebuilt in 1152, in the later Romanesque style. The town library and art museum are now in the corn hall, which has been reconstructed for that purpose. A suspension bridge leads from the city to the right bank of the Rhone, where the industrial quarter of Ste Colombe now occupies part of the ancient city. Here is a tower, built in 1349 by Philip of Valois to defend the French bank of the Rhone, as distinguished from the left bank, which, as part of the kingdom of Provence, was dependent on the Holy Roman Empire. This state of things is also recalled by the name of the village, St Romain en Gal, to the N.W. of Ste Colombe.

The Gère supplies the motive power to numerous factories. The most important are those which produce cloth (about 30 factories, turning out daily about 15,000 yds. of cloth). There are numerous other industrial establishments (paper mills, iron foundries, brick works, refining furnaces, &c.).

Vienne was originally the capital of the Allobroges, and became a Roman colony about 47 B.C. under Caesar, who embellished and fortified it. A little later these colonists were expelled by the Allobroges; the exiles then founded the colony of Lyons (Lugdunum). It was not till the days of Augustus and Tiberius that Vienne regained all its former privileges as a Roman colony. Later it became the capital of the Provincia Viennensis. In 257 Postumus was proclaimed emperor here, and for a few years from that day onwards Vienne was the capital of a short-lived provincial empire. It is said to have been converted to Christianity by Crescens, the disciple of St Paul. Certainly there were Christians here in 177, as in the Greek letter (preserved to us by Eusebius) addressed at that date by the churches of Vienne and Lyons to those of Asia and Phrygia mention is made of “the” deacon of Vienne. The first bishop certainly known is Verus, who was present at the Council of Arles in 314. About 450 Vienne became an archbishopric and continued one till 1790, when the see was suppressed. The archbishops disputed with those of Lyons the title of “Primate of All the Gauls.” Vienne was conquered by the Burgundians in 438, and in S34 was taken by the Franks. Sacked in 558 by the Lombards and in 737 by the Saracens, the government of the district was given by Charles the Bald in 869 to a certain Count Boso, who in 879 was proclaimed king of Provence, and was buried on his death in 887 in the cathedral church of St Maurice. Vienne then continued to form part of the kingdom of Provence or Arles till in 1032 it reverted to the Holy Roman Empire. The sovereigns of that kingdom, as well as the emperors in the 12th century (in particular Frederick Barbarossa in 1153), recognized the rights of the archbishops as the rulers (in the name of the emperor) of Vienne. But the growing power of the counts of Albon, later Dauphins of the neighbouring county of the Viennois, was the cause of many disputes between them and the archbishops. In 1349 the reigning Dauphin sold his Dauphiné to France, but the town of Vienne was not included in this sale, and the archbishops did not give up their rights over it to France till 1449, when it first became French. In 1311–12 the fifteenth General Council was held at Vienne when Clement V. abolished the order of the Knights Templar. Vienne was sacked in 1562 by the Protestants under the baron des Adrets, and was held for the Ligue 1590–95, when it was taken in the name of Henri IV. by Montmorency. The fortifications were demolished between 1589 and 1636. In 1790 the archbishopric was abolished, the title “Primate of All the Gauls” being attributed to the archbishops of Lyons. Among famous natives of Vienne may be mentioned St Julian (3rd century) and Nicholas Chorier (1612–1692), the historian of the Dauphiné, while Gui de Bourgogne, who was archbishop 1090–1119, became pope in 1119 as Calixtus II. (d. 1124).

See A. Allmer et A. de Terrebasse, Inscriptions antiques et du moyen âge de Vienne en Dauphiné (6 vols., Vienne, 1875–76); Cl. Charvet, Fastes de la ville de Vienne (Vienne, 1869); U. Chevalier, Collection des Cartulaires Dauphinois, in vol. i. (Vienne, 1869), is that of St André le Bas, and in vol. ii. (1891) a description of that of St Maurice; N. Chorier, Recherches sur les antiquités de la ville de Vienne (Vienne, 1658); E. A. Freeman, Article in the Saturday Review for Feb. 6, 1875; F. Raymond, Le Guide Viennois (Troyes, 1897).  (W. A. B. C.)