THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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LILLE, a city of northern France, capital of the department of Nord, 154 m. N. by E. of Paris on the Northern railway. Pop. (1906) 196,624. Lille is situated in a low fertile plain on the right bank of the Deûle in a rich agricultural and industrial region of which it is the centre. It is a first-class fortress and headquarters of the I. army corps, and has an enceinte and a pentagonal citadel, one of Vauban’s finest works, situated to the west of the town, from which it is divided by the Deûle. The modern fortifications comprise over twenty detached forts and batteries, the perimeter of the defences being about 20 m. Before 1858 the town, fortified by Vauban about 1668, occupied an elliptical area of about 2500 yds. by 1300, with the church of Notre-Dame de la Treille in the centre, but the ramparts on the south side have been demolished and the ditches filled up, their place being now occupied by the great boulevard33698-h.htm'>boulevard de la Liberté, which extends in a straight line from the goods station of the railway to the citadel. At the S.E. end of this boulevard33698-h.htm'>boulevard are grouped the majority of the numerous educational establishments of the city. The new enceinte encloses the old communes of Esquermes, Wazemmes and Moulins-Lille, the area of the town being thus more than doubled. In the new quarters fine boulevard33698-h.htm'>boulevards and handsome squares, such as the Place de la République, have been laid out in pleasant contrast with the sombre aspect of the old town. The district of St André to the north, the only elegant part of the old town, is the residence of the aristocracy. Outside the enceinte populous suburbs surround the city on every side. The demolition of the fortifications on the north and east of the city, which is continued in those directions by the great suburbs of La Madeleine, St Maurice and Fives, must accelerate its expansion towards Roubaix and Tourcoing. At the demolition of the southern fortifications, the Paris gate, a triumphal arch erected in 1682 in honour of Louis XIV., after the conquest of Flanders, was preserved. On the east the Ghent and Roubaix gates, built in the Renaissance style, with bricks of different colours, date from 1617 and 1622, the time of the Spanish domination. On the same side the Noble-Tour is a relic of the medieval ramparts. The present enceinte is pierced by numerous gates, including water gates for the canal of the Deûle and for the Arbonnoise, which extends into a marsh in the south-west corner of the town. The citadel, which contains the barracks and arsenal, is surrounded by public gardens. The more interesting buildings are in the old town, where, in the Grande Place and Rue Faidherbe, its animation is concentrated. St Maurice, a church in the late Gothic style, dates in its oldest portions from the 15th century, and was restored in 1872; Ste Cathérine belongs to the 15th, 16th and 18th centuries, St André to the first years of the 18th century, and Ste Madeleine to the last half of the 17th century; all possess valuable pictures, but St Maurice alone, with nave and double aisles, and elegant modern spire, is architecturally notable. Notre-Dame de la Treille, begun in 1855, in the style of the 15th century, possesses an ancient statue of the Virgin which is the object of a well-known pilgrimage. Of the civil buildings the Bourse (17th century) built round a courtyard in which stands a bronze statue of Napoleon I., the Hôtel d’Aigremont, the Hôtel Gentil and other houses are in the Flemish style; the Hôtel de Ville, dating in the main from the middle of the 19th century, preserves a portion of a palace built by Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, in the 15th century. The prefecture, the Palais des Beaux-Arts, the law-courts, the school of arts and crafts, and the Lycée Faidherbe are imposing modern buildings. In the middle of the Grande Place stands a column, erected in 1848, commemorating the defence of the town in 1792 (see below), and there are also statues to Generals L. L. C. Faidherbe and F. O. de Négrier, and busts of Louis Pasteur and the popular poet and singer A. Desrousseaux. The Palais des Beaux-Arts contains a museum and picture galleries, among the richest in France, as well as a unique collection of original designs of the great masters bequeathed to Lille by J. B. Wicar, and including a celebrated wax model of a girl’s head usually attributed to some Italian artist of the 16th century. The city also possesses a commercial and colonial museum, an industrial museum, a fine collection of departmental and municipal archives, the museum of the Institute of Natural Sciences and a library containing many valuable manuscripts, housed at the Hôtel de Ville. The large military hospital, once a Jesuit college, is one of several similar institutions.

Lille is the seat of a prefect and has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a board of trade arbitrators, a chamber of commerce and a branch of the Bank of France. It is the centre of an académie (educational division) and has a university with faculties of laws, letters, science and medicine and pharmacy, together with a Catholic institute comprising faculties of theology, law, medicine and pharmacy, letters, science, a technical school, and a department of social and political science. Secondary education is given at the Lycée Faidherbe, and the Lycée Fénelon (for girls), a higher school of commerce, a national technical school and other establishments; to these must be added schools of music and fine arts, and the Industrial and Pasteur Institutes.

The industries, which are carried on in the new quarters of the town and in the suburbs, are of great variety and importance. In the first rank comes the spinning of flax and the weaving of cloth, table-linen, damask, ticking and flax velvet. The spinning of flax thread for sewing and lace-making is specially connected with Lille. The manufacture of woollen fabrics and cotton-spinning and the making of cotton-twist of fine quality are also carried on. There are important printing establishments, state factories for the manufacture of tobacco and the refining of saltpetre and very numerous breweries, while chemical, oil, white lead and sugar-works, distilleries, bleaching-grounds, dye-works, machinery and boiler works and cabinet-making occupy many thousands of workmen. Plant for sugar-works and distilleries, military stores, steam-engines, locomotives, and bridges of all kinds are produced by the company of Fives-Lille. Lille is one of the most important junctions of the Northern railway, and the Deûle canal affords communication with neighbouring ports and with Belgium. Trade is chiefly in the raw material and machinery for its industries, in the products thereof, and in the wheat and other agricultural products of the surrounding district.

Lille (l’Île) is said to date its origin from the time of Count Baldwin IV. of Flanders, who in 1030 surrounded with walls a little town which had arisen around the castle of Buc. In the first half of the 13th century, the town, which had developed rapidly, obtained communal privileges. Destroyed by Philip Augustus in 1213, it was rebuilt by Joanna of Constantinople, countess of Flanders, but besieged and retaken by Philip the Fair in 1297. After having taken part with the Flemings against the king of France, it was ceded to the latter in 1312. In 1369 Charles V., king of France, gave it to Louis de Male, who 686 transmitted his rights to his daughter Margaret, wife of Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy. Under the Burgundian rule Lille enjoyed great prosperity; its merchants were at the head of the London Hansa. Philip the Good made it his residence, and within its walls held the first chapters of the order of the Golden Fleece. With the rest of Flanders it passed from the dukes of Burgundy to Austria and then to Spain. After the death of Philip IV. of Spain, Louis XIV. reclaimed the territory and besieged Lille in 1667. He forced it to capitulate, but preserved all its laws, customs, privileges and liberties. In 1708, after an heroic resistance, it surrendered to Prince Eugène and the duke of Marlborough. The treaty of Utrecht restored it to France. In 1792 the Austrians bombarded it for nine days and nights without intermission, but had ultimately to raise the siege.

See É. Vanhende, Lille et ses institutions communales de 620 à 1804 (Lille, 1888).


Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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