History of Limoges
Limoges is a city and commune in France. St Martial, who came to the city around 250, evangelized the city. The Abbey of St Martial was constructed in the 9th century, and was the home of a large library. The presence of this library led to Limoges becoming a flourishing artistic center during the middle ages. Limoges was also the home of an important school of music composition, the St Martial School.
During the 13th century, Limoges was at its full splendor, with a new line of walls encompassing Vienne river guarding the town proper, a populated area outside the walls, and a castle with 12-meter high walls controlled by the Abbot (while the town was ruled by Bishops).
During the 14th century, Edward, the Black Prince, who reportedly massacred some 3000 residents, occupied Limoges. During the French Revolution, the population destroyed several religious edifices, including the Abbey of St. Martial.
In the 18th century, kaolin was discovered near Limoges. Kaolin is a rock rich in fine white clay that is used for making porcelain.
At that time, Limoges was an impoverished region. The administrator of the region at that time was the progressive economist Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, who decided to develop a new industry, ceramics, using the kaolinite available locally.
Turgot established a factory for hard-paste porcelain, similar to Chinese porcelain, in 1771. A number of private factories were added after the French Revolution. These days, the term Limoges porcelain refers to porcelain produced in Limoges rather than in any particular factory.
The industry prospered in 19th century and most of the population was employed in the porcelain industry, or incidental activities like procuring wood needed for cooking porcelain. Not only did the industry prosper, but Limoges porcelain also became world famous in the 19th century.
Limoges was also renowned for Limges enamel, medieval enamels on copper, and Limousin oak, oak barrels used in the production of Cognac.
An Curious Reconstruction
The 19th century also saw strong construction activity in Limoges. It was more of a destruction-and-rebuilding exercise of much of the city center, considered unhealthy. Local chicken-eating contests, and a reputation as a nest of prostitution, led to this alleged bad health of the city center.
Things to See at Limoges
The Crypt of St Martial and the remains of a Gallo-Roman amphitheater were discovered in the 1960s. There is the Gothic cathedral of St Etienne (started in 1273 and finished in 1888) that is notable for a fine rood loft and a partly octagonal bell-tower. There are also other churches from the middle ages.
Then there are the Bridges of St Martial dating from Roman times.
The main railway station of Limoges is a modern structure, Limoges-Bénédictins, constructed over ten railway lines instead of to their side.
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Mira Lash deals with Limoges Boxes, Limoges Porcelain Boxes, porcelain figurines Imported from France.
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