History of Toulon Articles about Provence

History of Toulon

History of Toulon
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Toulon is now one of the largest port cities in France (known as the most beautiful harbor in Europe), located near Nice, Saint-Tropez and Marseille.

Moreover, we cannot simply not to devote a separate section to the interesting history of this city. It had been almost destroyed, «wiped from the face of the earth» for several times, but like the legendary Phoenix, Toulon was able to rise from its ashes!

The Phoenicians, who founded the city, were attracted to these places by the possibility of extracting a purple dye that they needed. Therefore, it is considered that the history of Toulon began with the arrival of the Phoenician colonies (in the fifth-sixth centuries BC.

In addition, in ancient times, in the region of the Mediterranean Sea, including the site of the present city of Toulon, there was a Greek colony, then - a Roman colony.

The first bishop - saint Honoratus - appeared in the city during the time of the Merovingians, and later, Toulon became the seat of their permanent residence.
In 889, the city was completely destroyed by the Saracens, and later the Count Guillaume I of Arles (Comte Guillaume Ier d'Arles) managed to rebuild it.

Since 1032, the city of Toulon had come under the control of the Counts of Provence (Comtes de Provence), and in the ninth, twelfth and thirteenth century (in 1178, 1196 and 1211), the city was besieged and disrupted again by the Saracens and pirates. Nevertheless, people came to this place, they reconstructed Toulon, the city grew up and strengthened.

In the medieval times, the city was taken several times by the plague - the «black death» - and the story keeps the prosecution case of the Jews of Toulon, in 1348, they had poisoned the water in wells and the river (which was supposed to cause the epidemics). Forty Jews had been killed then because of false charges in the massacre at Toulon for one night.

After the accession of Provence to France, King Charles VIII (Roi Charles VIII) (who was aware of the benefits of the harbor of Toulon), had a plan to build a major port here. However, the king's plans were not liked by the Genoese, who did not want to lose the monopoly of maritime trade in the Mediterranean.
The construction was interrupted and was not resumed until 1514, King Louis XII (roi Louis XII) for whom Toulon was primarily a potential springboard for the conduct of the Italian wars. It was during his reign that the Royal Tower (Tour Royale) was erected in Toulon (in 1514-1524). A curious fact - shortly after the completion of construction, the Bourbon Constable took the tower (or rather, it was bought from the commander for 500 ecus). In 1536, Toulon was visited by Emperor Charles V.

King François I, with the pirates of Barbarossa, besieged Nice and gave permission to the pirates to spend the winter in the Bay of Toulon (Baie de Toulon).

At the end of the nineteenth century, during the construction of the first shipyard, the city of Toulon became a strategically important city.

In the seventeenth century, Sebastian Vauban, the famous military engineer engaged in urban fortifications.

In 1599, Henry the Great (Henri le Grand) resumed construction of the port of Toulon (later, port facilities were improved by the Cardinal of Richelieu (Cardinal de Richelieu)). At the time of Colbert, large construction and fortification, also led by Vauban, were also conducted in the city. This gave a result – Toulon was strengthened so that it was able to resist the siege of Prince Eugene of Savoy (Prince Eugène de Savoie) in 1707, during the War of Spanish Succession.

In 1790, Toulon became the center of the Var department, and after 3 years, Napoleon Bonaparte was wounded in the capture of Toulon. (Soon he became the Emperor of France. (In 1793, his career began with the suppression of uprising royalists in Toulon). After the capture of the city, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general.

In the seventeenth - eighteenth century, Toulon had the glory of a first-class naval fortress. Its location facilitated the establishment of the fleet and the industry there. (In our time, there is a naval base in the city).

Throughout the nineteenth century, the French, recognizing the key importance of Toulon to maintain its dominant position in the Mediterranean, have «pressed» on the city to extend their colonial empire. In 1830, the French ship left Toulon in the expedition for the conquest of Algeria (the campaign lasted 17 years).

Prior to his transfer to Paris, Baron Haussmann ruled the city, having transformed the upper city (haute ville) - in his time, greened wide boulevards with multi-storey buildings were paved; the Opera House (the second largest in France) was built. And the city was also decorated with gardens open to the public, which bear the name of Alexander I - King of Yugoslavia, which visited Toulon and was killed in Marseilles in 1934.
                                                                         
In 1911 (on September 25th) one of the greatest maritime disasters of the twentieth century took place there – while staying in Toulon on the road, the battleship «Liberty» (« Liberté ») exploded, which cost the lives of 210 people, injuring 184. In addition, during World War II, 27 November 1942, the majority of the Navy of France - 77 vessels in total - was flooded in the port of Toulon.


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