Digne - Encyclopedia

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DIGNE, the chief town of the department of the Basses Alpes, in S.E. France, 14 m. by a branch line from the main railway line between Grenoble and Avignon. Pop. (1906), town, 4628; commune, 7456. The Ville Haute is built on a mountain spur running down to the left bank of the Bleone river, and is composed of a labyrinth of narrow winding streets, above which towers the present cathedral church, dating from the end of the 15th century, but largely reconstructed in modern times, and the former bishop's palace (now the prison). The fine Boulevard Gassendi separates the Ville Haute from the Ville Basse, which is of modern date. The old cathedral (Notre Dame du Bourg) is a building of the 13th century, but is now disused except for funerals: it stands at the east end of the Ville Basse. The neighbourhood of Digne is rich in orchards, which have long made the town famous in France for its preserved fruits and confections. It is the Dinia of the Romans, and was the capital of the Bodiontii. From the early 6th century at least it has been an episcopal see, which till 1790 was in the ecclesiastical province of Embrun, but since 1802 in that of Aix en Provence. The history of Digne in the middle ages is bound up with that of its bishops, under whom it prospered greatly. But it suffered much during the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, when it was sacked several times. A little way off, above the right bank of the Bleone, is Champtercier, the birthplace of the astronomer Gassendi (1592-1655), whose name has been given to the principal thoroughfare of the little town.

See F. Guichard, Souvenirs historiques sur la ville de Digne et ses environs (Digne, 1847). (W. A. B. C.)

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