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Orléans

France By The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica


Behold the Gothic-architecture marvel Sainte-Croix Cathedral in Orléans, France

Behold the Gothic-architecture marvel Sainte-Croix Cathedral in Orléans, FranceThe Sainte-Croix Cathedral in Orléans, FranceEncyclopædia Britannica, Inc.See all videos for this article

Orléans, city, capital of Loiret département, Centre région, north-central France. It is located south-southwest of Paris. The city stands on the banks of the Loire River in a fertile valley on the edge of the Beauce plain.

History

Orléans, which derives its name from the Roman Aurelianum, was conquered by Julius Caesar in 52 bce. It became an intellectual capital under Charlemagne, emperor from 800 to 814, and in the 10th and 11th centuries it was the most important city in France after Paris. In 1429, during the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453), after it had been besieged for seven months by the English, the French national heroine St. Joan of Arc, known as the Maid of Orléans, and her troops delivered it. The victory continues to be celebrated annually.

Orléans, France

Orléans, FranceOrléans, France.Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Orléans was a Huguenot (Protestant) centre during the 16th-century Wars of Religion, but the Roman Catholics took control of the city in 1572 after the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, in which about 1,000 Protestants were killed. (It was occupied in 1870 by the Prussians after a long siege.)

The Sainte-Croix Cathedral, begun in the 13th century, was largely destroyed by the Protestants in 1568. Henry IV, king of France from 1589–1610, gave funds for its reconstruction, and it was faithfully rebuilt (17th–19th century) in Gothic style. The 18th-century towers were damaged in World War II but were later restored. The cathedral is about the same size as Notre-Dame of Paris. The stone and brick Renaissance Hôtel de Ville (1549–55) was restored and enlarged in the 19th century.

The city was severely bombed in World War II. Many buildings of historical and artistic interest were destroyed, including the Jeanne-d’Arc Museum and the Church of St. Paul.

The contemporary city

Row down the Loire River to behold the Gothic cathedral of Orléans and Loire valley and its historic châteaux

Row down the Loire River to behold the Gothic cathedral of Orléans and Loire valley and its historic châteauxViews of the cathedral of Orléans and historic châteaus along the Loire River, France.(Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc)

The Loire River divides Orléans into two unequal parts. To the south lies the smaller Saint-Marceau quarter, a market-gardening centre. The main part of the city stands on the northern bank of the Loire. The old quarter, surrounded by pleasant wide boulevards and quays along the river, was largely destroyed during World War II. It has been rebuilt in keeping with the style of the old 18th-century town, with consideration for the imperatives of modern traffic. Beyond the boulevards new districts were created along the main roads leading out of the city.

Traditionally, Orléans was a market and horticulture centre for the surrounding region. Since the 1960s, industrialization has been rapid, and Orléans benefitted particularly from the decentralization of Parisian industry. Present-day industry in Orléans consists of the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, electronics, and machinery. By the late 20th century, services had become the dominant economic activity. The University of Orléans, founded in 1305, was abolished during the French Revolution, but a new one was established at La Source (source or springs of the Loire River) in 1962. A science park was created in association with the university. Orléans is the centre of a modern road network, and a tram system runs through the city. Pop. (1999) 113,126; (2014 est.) 114,977.

Siege of Orléans, (October 12, 1428–May 8, 1429), siege of the French city of Orléans by English forces, the military turning point of the Hundred Years’ War between France and England.

The siege was begun by Thomas de Montacute, earl of Salisbury, after the English conquest of Maine, a border region between the zone recognizing Henry VI of England as king of France and the zone recognizing the dauphin, Charles VII. But Salisbury’s enterprise was contrary to the advice of Henry VI’s regent in France, John, duke of Bedford, who argued for an advance into Anjou instead. Salisbury captured some important places upstream and downstream from Orléans, along with the bridgehead fort on the south bank of the Loire River opposite the city itself, then died of a wound on November 3, 1428. His successor in command, William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, did nothing to promote the operation until December, when John Talbot (later earl of Shrewsbury) and Thomas Scales arrived to stimulate him. Impressive siege works, including forts, were then undertaken. Weeks went by; a French attempt to cut the besiegers’ line of supply was defeated (Battle of the Herrings, February 12, 1429); and the defenders, under Jean d’Orléans, count de Dunois (natural son of Charles VII’s late uncle Louis, duke d’Orléans), were considering capitulation when Joan of Arc persuaded Charles VII to send an army to relieve the city. Diversionary action against one of the English forts enabled Joan, from Chézy, five miles upstream, to enter Orléans with supplies on April 30. In the following week the principal English forts were stormed, and Suffolk abandoned the siege.

Ordained priest in 1825, Dupanloup began his series of successful catechetical classes at the Parisian Church of the Madeleine. As director of the Parisian junior seminary of Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet (1837–45), he attracted many lay students. He was prominent in the struggle for educational freedom under the July Monarchy and was an architect of the Falloux Law (1850), which gave legal status to independent secondary schools. While bishop of Orléans (consecrated 1849), and as a member of the French Academy (elected 1854), he helped reorganize the liberal Catholic journal Le Correspondant.

When papal temporal sovereignty was threatened by Emperor Napoleon III, Dupanloup defended it in a series of public letters (1860), but he supported Louis-Adolphe Thiers’s refusal to reopen the issue after 1870. His explanation of Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors under the terms thesis and hypothesis became famous. At the first Vatican Council (1869–70) he was one of the party that considered the definition of papal infallibility to be inopportune. His Christian Marriage and The Studious Women have been translated into English.

Loire River France By The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica | View Edit History


Row down the Loire River to behold the Gothic cathedral of Orléans and Loire valley and its historic châteaux

Row down the Loire River to behold the Gothic cathedral of Orléans and Loire valley and its historic châteauxViews of the cathedral of Orléans and historic châteaus along the Loire River, France.Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.See all videos for this article

Loire River, longest river in France, rising in the southern Massif Central and flowing north and west for 634 miles (1,020 km) to the Atlantic Ocean, which it enters south of the Bretagne (Brittany) peninsula. Its major tributary is the Allier, which joins the Loire at Le Bec d’Allier. Its drains an area of about 45,000 square miles (117,000 square km). The picturesque valley is dotted with châteaus.

Blois

BloisCathedral on the banks of the Loire River, Blois, France.© bonzodog/Shutterstock.com

The river rises at about 4,500 feet (1,370 metres) above sea level, at the foot of the Gerbier de Jonc in the Cévennes near the Mediterranean coast. In its upper course it flows through a succession of downfaulted, flat-floored basins set in the highlands of the Massif Central. Crossing them, its valley narrows to gorges. After being joined by the Allier, the greatly enlarged stream flows across the limestone platform of Berry, and its valley becomes only a slight groove.

The upper course of the Loire tends to flow north toward the centre of the Paris Basin, but it then swings in a great curve past Orléans and flows westward to the sea by its long estuary at Nantes.

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