Blasonnement  des armes traditionnelles de la ville d'Aurillac     Rodez     Aurillac, Rodez et Albi     Albi

Aurillac (en occitan Orlhac) est une commune française de la région d'Auvergne. C'est la préfecture du département du Cantal. Ses habitants sont appelés les Aurillacois. The gallo-roman city sits in the mountains, its name comes from Aureliacum, which means the villa of Emperor Aurelius. The earlier oppidium of the celtic tribes sat on a nearby hill, however it was abandoned when the Romans arrived. The Château Saint-Étienne sits midway and appears to be built on the site of a fortress built in the dark ages. After suffering the fortunes of numerous wars and a few revolts, the arrival of the railway in 1866, accelerated the development of the city from a village to the small city we see today.

Sylvester II, the first French Pope, was born near Aurillac, a relation of the Count, but not a direct descendent. He was educated at the nearby abbey of Saint-Gérauld, founded in 885-894 (abbaye bénédictine). He has credit for the invention of the pendulum clock and for the introduction of the use of Arabic numerals into western Europe (the zero sum game). Saint Gerald of Aurillac was the patron Saint of Upper Auvergne. Gerald was born into the Gallo-Roman nobility as the son of the Comte d'Aurillac, to which title of Count he succeeded. His memorial feast day is October 13th, as the patron of the disabled, handicapped and physically challenged.

The abby church (l'église Saint Géraud) can not be said to reflect the usual Auvergne-style. Elsewhere, one can see an immediately recognizable form, such as St-Nectaire shown here or at Orcival, dominated by the stunning Romanesque church of Notre-Dame. More at: Both structures lie in a volcanic region north of Aurilliac and south-west of Clermont-Ferrand.

Rodez is a place of at least 2500 years, known starting in the fifth century BC, when a Celtic tribe from central Europe (the Rutenes) stopped just south of the Auvergne region to build an oppida characteristic of the Gallic culture. Starting with the Romans, Rodez was successively occupied by the Visigoths, the Franks, the armies of the Dukes of Aquitaine and the Counts of Toulouse, and by the Moors, who invested it in 725 and razed its ancient church. Later, the English will invest the town in the Hundred Years War, and the Counts of Armagnac will submit after some conflict to the French Crown. Despite evidence that many of its Gothic masterpieces from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century remain, the city has not really experienced long periods of peace and prosperity. In 1589, Henry IV, Count of Rodez, finally attaches the destiny of the County of Rodez to the Crown when he becomes King.

Tour de France 2010 -- Stage 13 (samedi 17 juillet) Rodez to Revel: The race begins at Rodez on its way (southwest) to Revel (Haute-Garonne département). What can we say about either place that you do not already know ? The citizens of Rodez are called Ruthenois for reasons shown above. Sometime after the Roman arrival, the fortified place was renamed Segodunum. In late Roman Imperial times it was known again as Civitas Rutenorum, from whence the modern name derived. The notable Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez has a completely closed western wall, which was part of the city's defensive structure. The Church of Saint-Amans (12th century, rebuilt in 1758-1761 in the Baroque style) contains 6th century tapestries about the miracles of Saint Amand. The interior houses also a 15th century Pietà and a statue of the Trinity (sixteenth century).

Albi: Remains of bronze and iron are found in the vicinity of Albi and other mineral resources are nearby. The Ruthenian Gauls ruled the region from Rodez to Albi by the 2nd century BC, when the Romans arrived; however, it remained a sideeam in the colonization effort. The first bishop of Albi is Diogenes (405AD) and the first written mention of Civitas albigensium dates from 406. Visagoths then Franks arrive culminating in a fire that destroyed the city in 666AD. Not until the 10th century was a bridge built over the river Tarn, which still remains.

Albi is the préfecture of the département of Tarn in the région called Midi-Pyrénées and seat of an archdiocese. Albi is remarkable for its impressive fortified Cathedral of Saint Cecilia (skyline to the right) and Berbie Palace (to the left above), the former palace of the Archbishops, that dominate the downtown and the historic river. The bishops want to celebrate the power of the Church through these new buildings. Birthplace at Albi of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec houses a museum comprising a large collection of works by post-impressionist painter. Albi's name was given to the Cathars, the Albigenses, who suffered violent repression in the thirteenth century from the Catholic Church during a Crusade that affected much of southern France. On March 16, 1244 : Hugues d’Arcis, Pierre Amiel (archevêque de Narbonne) et Durand (évêque d’Albi) brûlent plus de 200 cathares qui viennent de se rendre après la prise du Château de Montségur, France. The Roman Catholic authorities designed and built la cathédrale Sainte-Cécile in order to counter-act the Cathar heresy. It remains a powerful statement with beautiful ornamentation.

In 1474, Louis d'Amboise was appointed Bishop of Albi (he descended from a line of Vicomtes de Thouars, some 600 years long). He was previously an Ambassador of France to Rome, as well as adviser of King Louis XI and Lieutenant General of the ancient province of Languedoc ((Lengadòc en occitan). He is responsible for installing Neumeister, a master printer and a native of Mainz and Gutenberg collaborator at Albi. This is one of the first workshops of printers in France after those in Paris and Lyon. The city had been an important cultural center known for its scriptorium allowed one to copy documents and books of liturgical life. Amboise would engender the ire of his king and his holdings at Amboise were forfeit.

The massacre of St. Bartholomew (August 24, 1572 in Paris) also is repeated in Albi on October 5th. As elsewhere in France it led to a general settling of old squabbles. Prosperity declined after that event. During the Révolution française, Albi for a time lost its leading role in favor of Castres, which became the capital of the new department of Tarn (1790). Church property was sold off by the government and Church archives burned; but, the Republicans would deem their new home unsafe and flee Castres to take refuge in Albi. The city became a capital again in 1797, after this brief period. Georges Pompidou, Président de la République française de 1969 à 1974, a vécu sa jeunesse et a fait ses études à Albi jusqu'au baccalauréat. Henri de Pascal (ou Paschal), Marquis de Rochegude (Enric Pascal de Ròcaguda en occitan), né le 18 décembre 1741 et mort le 16 mars 1834 à Albi, dans le Tarn, est un officier de marine, lexicographe, littérateur, philologue et bibliophile occitan et français.

In the eighteenth century, the Marquis de Solages, Lord of Carmaux, attempted one of the first industrial extractions of coal in France. He secured the license to build a horse-drawn railway to Albi. Thus was born the Faubourg de la Madeleine. The railroad came to town (1864) and a new bridge crossed the river. Its famous glassworks were founded in 1896 as a cooperative working with the help of Jean Jaurès.'Albi-Madeleine

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