Administration Country France Region Burgundy Department Saône-et-Loire Arrondissement Autun Canton Autun Intercommunality Autunois Mayor Rémi Rebeyrotte Statistics Land area1 61.52 km2 (23.75 sq mi) Population2 16,082 (2006) - Density 261 /km2 (680 /sq mi) INSEE/Postal code 710014/ 71400 1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Autun is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in Burgundy in eastern France. It was founded during the early Roman Empire as Augustodunum. Autun marks the easternmost extent of the Umayyad campaign in Europe.
Autun was founded during the reign of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, after whom it was named. It was the civitas capital of the Celtic Aedui, who had been allies and fratres ("brothers") of Rome since before Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul. Augustodunum was a planned foundation replacing the original oppidum or hillfort Bibracte, located some 15 miles away. Several elements of Roman architecture such as walls, gates, and a Roman theatre are still visible in the town.
In 356 AD, Autun came under siege by a force of Alamanni. The disrepair of the walls left the city in danger of falling. Autun was saved by the arrival of the Emperor Julian in one of his early military successes.
In late antiquity, Autun became famous for its schools of rhetoric. A world map famous for its size was displayed in the portico of one of the schools and may have survived until early modern times.
In 725, the Umayyad general ‘Anbassa ibn Suhaym al-Kalbi (عنبسة بن سحيم الكلبي) marched up the Saône valley to Autun. On 22 August 725 he captured the town after defeating forces led by the local bishop, Emilian D’Autun, who was slain during the course of the battle. Autun would be the easternmost point of expansion of Umayyad forces into Europe. Just seven years later in 732, the Umayyads would be forced to begin their withdrawal to al-Andalus after facing defeat at the Battle of Tours.
The city boasts two ancient Roman gates (the Porte St.-André and Porte d'Arroux) and other ruins dating to the time of Augustus. One of the most impressive remains is that of the ancient theatre, which was one of the largest in the western part of the empire with a 17,000 seat capacity. To the northwest of the city is the so-called Temple of Janus, only two walls (faces) of which remain. To the southeast is the mysterious Pierre de Couhard, a rock pyramid of uncertain function which may date to Roman times.
Autun Cathedral, also known as St. Lazare's cathedral, dates from the early twelfth century and is a major example of Romanesque architecture. It was formerly the chapel of the Dukes of Burgundy; their palace was the actual episcopal residence. The cathedral was originally built as a pilgrimage church for the veneration of the relics of Lazarus, Lazare d'Aix, a Christian martyr who was archbishop of Aix-en-Province. Autun's 12th-century bishop, Étienne de Bâgé, probably built the church in response to the construction of Ste. Madeleine at nearby Vézelay, home to the French cult of Mary Magdalene. St. Lazare was only later elevated to the rank of cathedral, replacing the former cathedral dedicated to St. Nazaire.
Autun Cathedral is famous for its architectural sculpture, particularly the tympanum of The Last Judgment above the west portal, surviving fragments from the lost portal of the north transept, and the capitals in the nave and choir. All of these are traditionally considered the work of Gislebertus, whose name is on the west tympanum. It is uncertain whether Gislebertus is the name of the sculptor or of a patron. If Gislebertus is in fact the artist, he is one of very few medieval artists whose name is known.
Other notable connections
- Bishop and Saint Leodegar
- Nivelon I (d. 768) was known as Count of Autun
- In the late 9th century, Charles Martel's daughter (name listed as Auda, Alane, or Aldana) married Thierry IV (also called Theoderich or Theoderic), Count of Autun. According to the controversial book Holy Blood Holy Grail (which may merely be repeating local legend), Theoderic was declared a King by the Carolingians, and his son was Saint William of Gellone. (For more details on this topic, see Septimania#References in popular culture.)
- In the late 9th century, the countship was vacant after the death of Robert the Strong, but was returned to Bernard Plantilosa, son of Bernard of Septimania, and then later to Bernat of Gothia, Count of Barcelona after Bernard fell out of favor.
- In 878, King Louis the Younger took the countship away and gave it to his chamberlain, Theodoric.
- Richard of Autun (c.867-921), also Count of Autun, was also the first Duke of Burgundy, whose ducal principality amalagmated several countships including Autun
- Honorius of Autun (died c. 1151)
- Napoleon I's foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord was a sometime bishop of Autun.
- Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor of Burgundy under Philip the Good, came from Autun, where several examples of his artistic patronage can be seen. The Rolin Madonna, by Jan van Eyck, in the Louvre, shows what was probably at least intended as a view of Autun in the background.
- In 1837, a commercial mining of oil shale deposit near Autun marked the beginning of the modern oil shale industry.
- In 1852, the uranium mineral autunite was first discovered near Autun, and named for the town.
- The European Triathlon Championships were also held in the town in 2006.
- The Fifth Stage of the 2007 Tour de France ended in the town, with the entrance to Autun being a twisting and winding route down from a nearby mountain.
Autun has sister city relationships with:
City Country Year Stevenage United Kingdom 1975 Ingelheim am Rhein Germany Kawagoe Japan Arévalo Spain
- Autun Cathedral
- fr:Musée Rolin
- Bishopric of Autun
- Communes of the Saône-et-Loire department
- Parc naturel régional du Morvan
- ^ John Brian Harley, David Woodward, The History of Cartography Vol I p290
- ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septimania
- ^ Linda Seidel, Legends in limestone: Lazarus, Gislebertus, and the Cathedral of Autun (University of Chicago Press, 1999), p. 35 online.
- ^ Laherrère, Jean (2005) (PDF). Review on oil shale data. Hubbert Peak. http://www.hubbertpeak.com/laherrere/OilShaleReview200509.pdf. Retrieved 2007-06-17.
- Westermann, Großer Atlas zur Weltgeschichte (in German)
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.
- Official website (French)
- Visiting Autun (tourist map and photos)
- Adrian Fletcher’s Paradoxplace – Autun Cathedral St-Lazare Photo Pages
- The Stevenage-Ingelheim-Autun Association
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.