ROANNE, a town of east-central France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Loire, on the left bank of the Loire, 54 m. N.W. of Lyons on the Paris-Lyons railway to Moulins. Pop. (1906) 33,981. The chief buildings are a modern town hall and the church of St Etienne (1835-1843), built in the Flamboyant Gothic style. The lycee occupies the buildings of the old college dating from the early 17th century. A fine bridge of seven arches connects Roanne with the industrial suburb of Le Coteau on the right bank of the river. The town is the seat of a sub-prefect, of tribunals of first instance and of commerce, of a chamber of commerce and a board of trade-arbitration, and has lycees for both sexes. Cotton goods form the staple manufacture, and cotton-spinning is also important. The making of knitted woollen articles gives employment to large numbers of women in the town and district. There are besides extensive engineering works, foundries, dye-works, tanneries, pottery and tile-works and other industrial establishments. As the centre of the Roannais coalfield, Roanne has trade in coal and coke. It is also the terminus of the Roanne-Digoin Canal and the real startingpoint of the Loire navigation.
Roanne (Rodomna, or Roidomna) was an ancient city of the Segusiani and a station on the great Roman road from Lyons to the ocean. In 1447 the lordship of Roannais became the property of the celebrated banker Jacques Coeur, from whom it passed as the result of a law-suit to the family of Gouffier. In their favour the title was raised to the rank of marquisate and in 1566 to the rank of duchy; it became extinct in the first half of the 18th century.
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