treaty of Frankfort (1871). It is bounded on the N.E. and E. by German Alsace, on the S.E. and S. by Switzerland, on the S.W. by the department of Doubs, on the W. by that of Haute-Saône, on the N. by that of Vosges. Pop. (1906), 95,421.
With an area of only 235 sq. m., it is, next to that of Seine, the smallest department of France. The northern part is occupied by the southern offshoots of the Vosges, the southern part by the northern outposts of the Jura. Between these two highlands stretches the Trouée (depression) de Belfort, 18½ m. broad, joining the basins of the Rhine and the Rhone, traversed by the canal from the Rhone to the Rhine and by several railways. A part of the natural highway open from Frankfort to the Mediterranean, the Trouée has from earliest times provided the route for the migration from north to south, and is still of great commercial and strategical value. The northern part, occupied by the Vosges, rises to 4126 ft. in the Ballon d’Alsace, the northern termination and the culminating point of the department; to 3773 ft. in the Planche des Belles-Filles; to 3579 ft. in the Signal des Plaines; to 3534 ft. in the Bärenkopf; and to numerous other lesser heights. South of the Trouée de Belfort, there rise near Delle limestone hills, in part wooded, on the frontiers of France, Alsace, and Switzerland, attaining 1680 ft. in the Forêt de Florimont. The territory between Lachapelle-sous-Rougemont (in the north-east), Belfort and Delle does not rise above 1300 ft. The line of lowest altitude follows the river St Nicolas and the Rhone-Rhine canal. The chief rivers are the Savoureuse, 24 m. long, running straight south from the Ballon d’Alsace, and emptying into the Allaine; the Allaine, from Switzerland, entering the territory a little to the south of Delle, and leaving it a little to the west of Morvillars; the St Nicolas, 24 m. long, from the Bärenkopf, running southwards and then south-west into the Allaine. The climate to the north of the town of Belfort is marked by long and rigorous winters, sudden changes of temperature, and an annual rainfall of 31 in. to 39 in. retained by an impervious subsoil; farther south it is milder and more equable with a rainfall of 23 in. to 31 in., quickly absorbed by the soil or evaporated by the sun. About one-third of the total area is arable land; wheat, oats and rye are the chief cereals; potatoes come next in importance. Forest covers another third of the surface; the chief trees are firs, pines, oak and beech; cherries are largely grown for the distillation of kirsch. Pasture and forage crops cover the remaining third of the Territory; only horned cattle are raised to any extent. There is an unworked concession of copper, silver and lead at Giromagny; and there are also quarries of stone. The Territory is an active industrial region. The two main branches of manufacture are the spinning and weaving of cotton and wool, and the production of iron and iron-goods (wire, railings, nails, files, &c.) and machinery. Belfort has important locomotive and engineering works. Hoisery is manufactured at Delle, watches, clocks, agricultural machinery, petrol motors, ironware and electrical apparatus at the flourishing centre of Beaucourt, and there are numerous saw-mills, tile and brick works and breweries. Imports consist of raw materials for the industries, dyestuffs, coal, wine, &c., and the exports of manufactured goods.
Belfort is the capital of the Territory, which comprises one arrondissement, 6 cantons and 106 communes, and falls within the circumscriptions of the archbishopric, the court of appeal and the académie (educational division) of Besançon. It forms the 7th subdivision of the VII. army corps. Both the Eastern and the Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée railways traverse the Territory, and the canal from the Rhone to the Rhine accompanies the river St Nicolas for about 6 m.
BELFORT, a town of eastern France, capital of the Territory of Belfort, 275 m. E.S.E. of Paris, on the main line of the Eastern railway. Pop. (1906), town, 27,805; commune, 34,649. It is situated among wooded hills on the Savoureuse at the intersection of the roads and railway lines from Paris to Basel and from Lyons to Mülhausen and Strassburg, by which it maintains considerable trade with Germany and Switzerland. The town is divided by the Savoureuse into a new quarter, in which is the railway station on the right bank, and the old fortified quarter, with the castle, the public buildings and monuments, on the left bank. The church of St Denis, a building in the classical style, erected from 1727 to 1750, and the hôtel de ville (1721–1724) both stand in the Place d’Armes opposite the castle. The two chief monuments commemorate the defence of Belfort in the war of 1870–1871. “The Lion of Belfort,” a colossal figure 78 ft. long and 52 ft. high, the work of F.A. Bartholdi, stands in front of the castle; and in the Place d’Armes is the bronze group “Quand Même” by Antonin Mercié, in memory of Thiers and of Colonel Pierre Marie Aristide Denfert-Rochereau (1823–1878), commandant of the place during the siege. Other objects of interest are the Tour de la Miotte, of unknown origin and date, which stands on the hill of La Miotte to the N.E. of Belfort, and the Port de Brisach, a gateway built by Vauban in 1687. Belfort is the seat of a prefect; its public institutions include tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a chamber of commerce, a lycée, a training-college and a branch of the Bank of France. The construction of locomotives and machinery, carried on by the Société Alsacienne, wire-drawing, and the spinning and weaving of cotton are included among its industries, which together with the population increased greatly owing to the Alsacian immigration after 1871. Its trade is in the wines of Alsace, brandy and cereals. The town derives its chief importance from its value as a military position.
After the war of 1870–1871, Belfort, which after a diplomatic struggle remained in French hands, became a frontier fortress of the greatest value, and the old works which underwent the siege of 1870–1871 (see below) were promptly increased and re-modelled. In front of the Perches redoubts, the Bosmont, whence the Prussian engineers began their attack, is now heavily fortified with continuous lines called the Organisation défensive de Bosmont. The old Bellevue redoubt (now Fort Denfert-Rochereau) is covered by a new work situated likewise on the ground occupied by the siege trenches in the war. Pérouse, hastily entrenched in 1870, now possesses a permanent fort. The old entrenched camp enclosed by the castle, Fort La Miotte, and Fort Justice, is still maintained, and part even of the enceinte built by Vauban is used for defensive purposes. Outside this improved inner line, which includes the whole area of the attack and defence of 1870, lies a complete circle of detached forts and batteries of modern construction. To the north, Forts Salbert and Roppe form the salients of a long defensive line on high ground, at the centre of which, where the Savoureuse river divides it, a new work was added later. Two works near Giromagny, about 8 m. from Belfort itself, connect the fortress with the right of the defensive line of the Moselle (Fort Ballon d’Alsace). In the eastern sector of the defences (from Roppe to the Savoureuse below Belfort) the forts are about 3 m. from the centre, the works near the Belfort-Mülhausen railway being somewhat more advanced, and in the western (from Salbert to Fort Bois d’Oyé on the lower Savoureuse) they are advanced to about the same distance. The fort of Mont Vaudois, the westernmost, overlooks Héricourt and the battlefield of the Lisaine: farther to the south Montbéliard is also fortified. The perimeter of the Belfort defences is nearly 25 m.
History.—Gallo-Roman remains have been discovered in the vicinity of Belfort, but the place is first heard of in the early part of the 13th century, when it was in the possession of the counts of Montbéliard. From them it passed by marriage to the counts of Ferrette and afterwards to the archdukes of Austria. By the treaty of Westphalia (1648) the town was ceded to Louis XIV. who gave it to Cardinal Mazarin.
In the Thirty Years’ War Belfort was twice besieged, 1633 and 1634, and in 1635 there was a battle here between the duke of Lorraine and the allied French and Swedes under Marshal de la Force. The fortifications of Vauban were begun in 1686. Belfort was besieged in 1814 by the troops of the allies and in 1815 by the Austrians.
The most famous episode of the town’s history is its gallant and successful defence in the war of 1870–1871.
The events which led up to the siege are described under