Quimper - Encyclopedia

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QUIMPER, formerly Quimper-Corentin, a town of France, capital of the department of Finistere, 158 miles north-west of Nantes and 68 miles south-east of Brest on the railway between those towns. Pop. (1906) 16,559. The delightful valley in which it lies is surrounded by high hills and traversed by the Steir and the Odet, which, meeting above the town, form a navigable channel for vessels of 150 tons to the sea (11 miles).

There is a small general shipping trade. Of the town walls (15th century) a few portions are preserved in the terrace of the episcopal palace and in the neighbourhood of the college. Quimper is the seat of a bishopric in the province of Rennes. The cathedral, dedicated to St Corentin and erected between 1239 and 1515, has a fine façade (c. 1425), the pediment of which is crowned by a modern equestrian statue of King Grallon, and adorned (like several other external parts of the building) with heraldic devices in granite. Two lateral towers with modern spires (1854-56) and turrets reach a height of 247 feet. The axis of the choir is deflected towards the north, a feature not uncommon, but here exaggerated. The nave and the transept are in the style of the 15th century, and the central boss bears the arms of Anne of Brittany (1476-1514). The terminal chapel of the apse dates from the 13th century. In the side chapels are the tombs of several early bishops. The high altar, tabernacle, and ciborium are costly works of contemporary art. The pulpit panels represent episodes in the life of St Corentin. Of the other churches may be mentioned the church of Locmaria, dating from the 11th century, and the chapel of the 15th century connected with the episcopal palace. A number of houses, in wood or stone, date from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The museum, built in 1869-70, contains archaeological collections and about 1300 paintings and drawings. In 1868 a bronze statue of Laennec the inventor of the stethoscope (born at Quimper in 1781) was erected in Place St Corentin.

Quimper, or at least its suburb Locmaria (which lies below the town on the left bank of the Odet), was occupied in the time of the Romans, and traces of the ancient foundations exist. Later Quimper became the capital of Cornouailles and the residence of its kings or hereditary counts. It is said to have been Grallon Meur (i.e. the Great) who brought the name of Cornouailles from Great Britain and founded the bishopric, which was first held by St Corentin about 495. Hoel, count of Cornouailles, marrying the sister and heiress of Duke Conan in 1066, united the countship with the duchy of Brittany. Quimper suffered in the local wars of succession. In 1344 it was sacked by Charles of Blois. Monfort failed in his attempt to take the town by storm on August II, 1345, but it opened its gates to his son John IV. in 1364 after the victory at Auray. At a later period it sided with the League. Doubtless on account of its distance from the capital, Quimper, like Carpentras and Landerneau, has been a frequent butt of French popular wit.

Quimperle, a town of western France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Finistere, at the confluence of two rivers which unite to form the Laiter, 28 m. E.S.E. of Quimper by rail. Pop. (1906) town 6203, commune 9176.9176. Quimperle grew up round the abbey of Ste Croix, founded in the Iith century, the romanesque basilica of which, restored in modern times, still remains. The church of St Michel (14th and 1 5th centuries), with a fine tower, crowns the hill above the town. Quimperle has a tribunal of first instance, and carries on the manufacture of farm implements, railway material, paper, &c., and trades in grain, timber, cattle and agricultural products. The town has a small port.

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