Besançon


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Related to Besançon: Lons-le-Saunier

Besançon

(bəzäNsôN`), city (1990 pop. 119,134), capital of Doubs dept., E France, in Franche-Comté, on the Doubs. An industrial town with metallurgical, textile, and food-processing industries, it is especially famous for its clock and watch manufactures; its watch school is world renowned. Of Gallo-Roman origin, Besançon was an archiepiscopal see from the 5th cent. Although part of the kingdom of BurgundyBurgundy
, Fr. Bourgogne , historic region, E France. The name once applied to a large area embracing several kingdoms, a free county (see Franche-Comté), and a duchy. The present region is identical with the province of Burgundy of the 17th and 18th cent.
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, it was made (by Emperor Frederick IFrederick I
or Frederick Barbarossa
[Ital.,=red beard], c.1125–90, Holy Roman emperor (1155–90) and German king (1152–90), son of Frederick of Hohenstaufen, duke of Swabia, nephew and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Conrad III.
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) a free city, with special privileges for its archbishops. It maintained its independence, with interruptions, until 1648, when it passed under Spanish rule through its incorporation with Franche-ComtéFranche-Comté
or Free County of Burgundy,
region and former province, E France. It is coextensive with Haute-Saône, Doubs, and Jura depts. Dôle was the capital until 1676; Besançon was the later capital and remains the chief city.
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. After Louis XIVLouis XIV,
1638–1715, king of France (1643–1715), son and successor of King Louis XIII. Early Reign

After his father's death his mother, Anne of Austria, was regent for Louis, but the real power was wielded by Anne's adviser, Cardinal Mazarin.
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's second conquest of Franche-Comté (1674), Besançon became (1676) the capital of his new province. Although bombed during World War II, many old monuments remain: Roman ruins; the 17th-century citadel on a bluff above the city's center; a cathedral (12th–16th cent.) with a bell tower that contains a 19th-century astronomical clock; and numerous buildings in Spanish Renaissance style, notably the Palais Granvelle (birthplace of Cardinal GranvelleGranvelle, Antoine Perrenot de
, 1517–86, statesman in the service of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and of King Philip II of Spain; cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
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, now a museum) and the imposing town hall. An intellectual center, Besançon is the seat of a university (founded 1422 in Dôle and moved to Besançon in 1691), a music academy (founded 1726), and an international music festival.