Toul - Encyclopedia

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TOUL, a garrison town of north-eastern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, 21 m. W. of Nancy on the Eastern railway Pop. (1906), town 9523; commune, 13,663.13,663. Toul is situated in a plain on the left bank of the Moselle, which skirts the town on the S. and S. E., while on the N. it is bordered by the Marne-Rhine canal. It is principally important as being the centre of a great entrenched camp close to the German frontier. Immediately after the FrancoGerman War the whole system of frontier defence was revised, and of all the new fortresses of the Meuse and Moselle Toul is perhaps the most formidable. The works were begun in 1874 by the construction of four outlying forts north, north-east and south of the town, but these soon became merely an inner line of defence. The principal defences now lie much farther out on all sides. The west front of the new line of forts occupies a long line of high ground (the watershed of the Meuse and the Moselle), the north front, about 4 m. from Toul, is in undulating country, while facing towards Nancy and forming the chord of the arc which the Moselle describes from Fontenay below to Villey-le-Sec above, is the strong east front, the outlying works of which extend far to the east (Fort Frouard and other works about Nancy) and to the south-east (Pont St Vincent). The south front extends from the Moselle at Villey-leSec south-westwards till it meets the southern end of the west front on the high ground overlooking the Meuse valley. The fort at Pagny on the Meuse to the south-west may be considered an outwork of this line of defence. The perimeter of the Toul defences proper is nearly 30 m., and their mean distance from the town about 6 m. Northward, along the Meuse, Toul is connected with the fortress of Verdun by the "Meuse line" of barrier forts, the best known of which are Gironville, Liouville and Troyon. South of Toul the country was purposely left unfortified as far as Epinal (q.v.) and this region is known as the Trouee d'Epinal.

The town itself forms an oval within a bastioned enceinte pierced by three gateways. It has two important churches. That of St Etienne (formerly a cathedral) has a choir and transept of the 13th century; the nave and aisles are of the 14th, and the facade, the finest part of the building, of the last half of the 15th. The two western towers, which have no spires, reach a height of 246 ft. The two large lateral chapels of the nave are in the Renaissance style. The chief features of the interior are its stained glass and organ loft. South of the church there is a fine cloister of the end of the 13th century which 'was much damaged at the Revolution. The church of St Gengoult, which dates chiefly from the late 13th or early 14th century, has a facade of the 15th century and a cloister in the Flamboyant Gothic style of the 16th century. The hotelde-ville occupies a building of the 18th century, once the episcopal palace, and contains the library and museum. Toul is the seat of a sub-prefect and has a tribunal of commerce and a communal college among its public institutions. The industries include the manufacture of porcelain; trade is in wine and brandy.

Toul (Tullum) is one of the oldest towns of France; originally capital of the Leuci, in the Belgic Confederation, it acquired great importance under the Romans. It was evangelized by St Mansuy in the latter half of the 4th century, and became one of the leading sees of north-east Gaul. After being sacked successively by Goths, Burgundians, Vandals and Huns, Toul was conquered by the Franks in 450. Under the Merovingians it was governed by counts, assisted by elective officers. The bishops became sovereign counts in the 10th century, holding only of the emperor, and for a period of 300 years (13th to 16th centuries) the citizens maintained a long struggle against them. Together with Verdun and Metz the town and its domain formed the territory of the Trois-Eveches. Toul was forced to yield for a time to the count of Vaudemont in the 12th century, and twice to the duke of Lorraine in the 15th, and was thrice devastated by the plague in the 16th century. Charles V. made a solemn entry into the town in 1544, but in the following year, at the instance of the cardinal of Lorraine, it placed itself under the perpetual protection of the kings of France. Henry II. took possession of the Trois-Eveches in 1552, but the territory was not officially incorporated with France till 1648. Henry IV. was received in state in 1603, and in 1637 the parlement of Metz was transferred to Toul. In 1700 Vauban reconstructed the fortifications of the town. In 1790 the bishopric was suppressed and the diocese united to that of Nancy. Toul, which had then no modern defences, capitulated. in 1870 after a bombardment of twelve days.

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