Tarbes - Encyclopedia

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TARBES, a town of south-western France, capital of the department of Hautes-Pyrenees, 98 m. W.S.W. of Toulouse on the Southern railway. Pop. (1906) town, 20,866; commune, 25,869.25,869. Tarbes is situated in a beautiful and fertile plain, in full view of the Pyrenees, on the left bank of the Adour, streams from which are conducted through all parts of the town. The lines of the Southern railway from Morcenx to Bagneres-deBigorre and Lourdes and from Toulouse to Bayonne cross here. Chief among the many open spaces is the Jardin Massey (35 acres), given to his native town by a director of the gardens of Versailles and containing a museum of sculptures, paintings and antiquities. Near a small lake stands a cloister (15th century) transferred from the abbey of St Sever-de-Rustan, 14 m. N.E. of Tarbes, and a bust of Theophile Gautier, a native of Tarbes. The architecture of the cathedral, Notre Dame de la Sede, is heavy and unpleasing, but the cupola of the transept (14th century), the modern glass in the 12th-century apse, and a rose window of the 13th century, in the north transept, are worthy of notice. There is also a modernized Carmelite church originally built in the 13th century. Tarbes is a well-known centre for the breeding of Anglo-Arabian horses, much used by light cavalry; and its stud is the most important in the south of France. The industrial establishments include tanneries, tile-works, saw-mills and turners' shops. There are important fairs and markets. Well-known race-meetings are held on the Laloubere course.

Under the Roman dominion Turba, which was about 11 m.

S.E. of the present town of Tarbes, was the capital of the Bigerriones, one of the states of Novempopulania. The bishopric of Tarbes dates from the 5th century, and in feudal times its bishops held the chief temporal authority, that of xxv1.14 the counts of Bigorre, of which Tarbes was capital, being limited to the quarter of the town where their castle was built. The English held the town from 1360 to 1406. In 1569 Tarbes was burnt by Gabriel, count of Montgomery, and the inhabitants were driven out. This happened a second time, but in August 1570 the peace of St Germain allowed them to return. Subsequently Tarbes was several times taken and re-taken, and a number of the inhabitants of Bigorre were forced to take refuge in Spain, but in 1594 the members of the League were finally expelled. The English, under Wellington, gained a victory over the French near Tarbes in 1814.

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