Autun is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in Burgundy in eastern France.
The history of Autun dates back to Roman times.
Autun marks the easternmost extent of the Umayyad campaign in Europe.
Autun was founded during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus (Autun derives from its Latin name Augustodunum
), and was famous for having schools of rhetoric
. Several elements of Roman architecture such as walls, gates, and a Roman theatre are still visible in the town. The area also lies in the area of Burgundy, and in the Middle Ages
, it was a Count of Autun who became the first Duke of Burgundy
In 725, the Umayyad general ‘Anbassa ibn Suhaym al-Kalbi (عنبسة بن سحيم الكلبي) marched up the Saône valley to Autun. On 22 August 725 he captured the town after defeating forces led by the local bishop, Emilian D’Autun, who was slain during the course of the battle. Autun would be the easternmost point of expansion of Umayyad forces into Europe. Just seven years later in 732, the Umayyads would be forced to begin their withdrawal to al-Andalus after facing defeat at the Battle of Tours.
Christian teaching reached Autun at a very early period, as we know from the famous funeral inscription, in Greek, of a certain Pectorius frequently known as the Inscription of Autun which dates from the third century. The first bishop known to history is Saint Reticius
, an ecclesiastical writer, and contemporary of the Emperor Constantine I
). The Bishop of Autun
enjoys the right of wearing the pallium
, in virtue of a privilege accorded to the see in 599
by pope St. Gregory the Great
). The diocese comprises the entire Department of Saone et Loire
The city boasts two ancient Roman
gates (the Porte St.-André and Porte d'Arroux) and other ruins dating to the time of Augustus
). One of the most impressive remains is that of the ancient theatre, which was one of the largest in the western part of the empire with a 17,000 seat capacity. To the northwest of the city is the so-called Temple of Janus, only two walls (faces) of which remain. To the southeast is the mysterious Pierre de Couhard, a rock pyramid of uncertain function which may date to Roman times.
Autun has a major Romanesque cathedral dating from the early twelfth century, which was formerly the chapel of the Dukes of Burgundy; their palace was the actual episcopal residence. St. Lazare was originally built as a pilgrimage church for the veneration of the relics of Lazarus, whom Christ was thought to have raised from the dead. Autun's 12th-century bishop, Étienne de Bâgé, probably built the church in response to the construction of Ste. Madeleine at nearby Vézelay, home to the French cult of Mary Magdalene, Lazarus's sister. St. Lazare was only later elevated to the rank of cathedral, replacing the former cathedral dedicated to St. Nazaire.
St. Lazare cathedral is famous for its incredible architectural sculpture, particularly the tympanum of The Last Judgment above the west portal, surviving fragments from the lost portal of the north transept, and the capitals in the nave and choir. All of these are traditionally considered the work of Gislebertus, whose name is on the west tympanum. It is uncertain whether Gislebertus is the name of the sculptor or of a patron. If Gislebertus is in fact the artist, he is one of very few medieval artists whose name is known. Cathedral: ,
Other notable connections
- Bishop and Saint Leodegar
- Nivelon I (d. 768) was known as Count of Autun
- In the late 9th century, Charles Martel's daughter (name listed as Auda, Alane, or Aldana) married Thierry IV (also called Theoderich or Theoderic), Count of Autun and Toulouse. According to the controversial book Holy Blood Holy Grail (which may merely be repeating local legend), Theoderic was declared a King by the Carolingians, and his son was Saint William of Gellone. (For more details on this topic, see Septimania#References in popular culture.)
- In the late 9th century, the countship was vacant after the death of Robert the Strong, but was returned to Bernard Plantilosa, son of Bernard of Septimania, and then later to Bernat of Gothia, Count of Barcelona after Bernard fell out of favor.
- In 878, King Louis the Younger took the countship away and gave it to his chamberlain, Theodoric.
- Richard of Autun (c.867-921), also Count of Autun, was also the first Duke of Burgundy, whose ducal principality amalagmated several countships including Autun
- Honorius of Autun (died c. 1151)
- Napoleon I's foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord was a sometime bishop of Autun.
- Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor of Burgundy under Philip the Good, came from Autun, where several examples of his artistic patronage can be seen. The Rolin Madonna, by Jan van Eyck, in the Louvre, shows what was probably at least intended as a view of Autun in the background.
- In 1837, a commercial mining of oil shale deposit near Autun marked the beginning of the modern oil shale industry.
- In 1852, the uranium mineral autunite was first discovered near Autun, and named for the town.
- The European Triathlon Championships were also held in the town in 2006.
- The Fifth Stage of the 2007 Tour de France ended in the town, with the entrance to Autun being a twisting and winding route down from a nearby mountain.
Autun has sister city
Sources and external links