1902 Encyclopedia > Lille


LILLE, capital of the department of Nord, France, and the ancient capital of Flanders, is situated about 155 miles by rail north of Paris, and at an elevation of 75 feet, in a low plain on the Deule, which flows to the Scheldt by the Lys. It is the chief fortress of the north of France, and headquarters of the first army corps, and is defended by a rampart and by a pentagonal citadel situated to the west of the town beside the Deule. The water of the river fills the moat, and the environs of the citadel can be laid under water. Prior to 1858 the town occupied an elliptical area of about 2500 yards by 1300, with the church of Notre Dame de la Treille in the centre, but the ramparts on the LILLE south side have since been demolished and the ditches filled up, their place being now occupied by the great Boulevard de la Liberty, which extends in a straight line from the goods station of the railway to the citadel. The new enceinte is muds more extensive, and encloses the old communes of Esquermes, Wazemmes, and Moulins-Lille, the area of the town being thus more than doubled ; in the new quarters fine boulevards and handsome squares, such as that De la Republique, have been laid out in pleasant contrast with the sombre and dirty aspect of the old town. The district of St Andre to the north, the only elegant part of the old town, is the residence of the Lille aristocracy.

At the demolition of the old fortifications, the Paris gate, a triumphal arch erected in 1682 in honour of Louis XIV., after the conquest of Flanders, was preserved, as also the Ghent and Roubaix gates, which date from the time of the Spanish domination, and are built in the Renaissance style, with bricks of different colours. The present rampart is pierced by eleven gates, besides a special gate for the railway, and two water gates for the canal of the Denle. The goods station has also its special outlet, and a line from it, after making the round of the new quarters, passes within the enceinte to the quays of the river. Crossing the bridges which span the different arms of the Deule, we reach the citadel, the glacis of which,.

original nucleus of the city. The town-house, on the site the period of the Spanish domination, is in an original style.

the town in 1792. There are several large hospitals, large number of various kinds of schools. The picture gallery, with upwards of eight hundred works, is one of the richest in the provinces, and the `Vicar museum contains a unique collection of original designs of the great includes numerous MSS., and particularly a valuable are to be seen medallions of all the sovereigns who have its junction with the Lys, and there is continuous water communication with the Scheldt in Belgium, and with Paris by way of Douai and St Quentin. The town is at the same time an important railway junction, and is also provided with tramways.

The principal industry is flax-spinning, in which thirty-five mills, with 190,000 spindles, give employment to of £240,000. Fifteen factories, with 1000 operatives, produce woollen goods worth from £120,000 to £160,000 per annum ; 5000 persons are engaged in cotton-spinning (115,000 spindles), to the amount of £800,000. There are besides eighty factories in which damasks, tickings, and fields, and establishments for the production of engines, The state manufacture of tobacco in Lille gives employment to 1200 persons. The total population of Lille in 1876 was 162,775.

Lille is said to date its origin from the time of Count Baldwin IV., who in 1030 surrounded with walls a little town which had arisen around the castle of Buc. At the end of the 12th century Lille, which had developed rapidly, obtained communal privileges. Destroyed by Philip Augustus in 1212, it was rebuilt by Johanna of Constantinople, hut besieged and retaken by Philip the Fair in 1297. After having taken part with the Flemings against the king of France, it was ceded to the latter in 1312. In 1369 Charles V. gave it to Louis de Male, who transmitted his rights to his daughter Margaret, wife of Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy. Under the Burgundian rule Lille enjoyed great prosperity ; its merchants were at the head of the London Hansa. Philip the Good made it his residence, and within its walls held the first chapters of the order of the Golden Fleece. With the rest of Flanders it passed from the dukes of Burgundy to Austria, and then to Spain. After the death of the Philip IV. of Spain, Louis XIV. reclaimed the territory, and besieged Lille in 1667. Ile forced it to capitulate, but preserved all its laws, customs, privileges, freedoms, and liberties. In 1708, after an heroic resistance, it surrendered to Prince Eugene and the duke of Marlborough. The treaty of Utrecht restored it to France. In 1792 the Austrians bombarded it for nine days and nights without intermission, but had ultimately to raise the siege. (G. ME.)

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-19 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries