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(ro͞oäN`), city (1990 pop. 105,470), capital of Seine-Maritime dept., N France. Situated on the Seine near its mouth at the English Channel, Rouen functions as the port of Paris, handling an enormous volume of traffic. Among its many manufactures are metal products, chemicals, drugs, textiles, paper, and leather goods. Rouen is also an old commercial, administrative, and cultural center. Of pre-Roman origin, Rouen was the victim of repeated raids (9th cent.) by the Norsemen. By the 10th cent. it was the capital of Normandy and a leading European city. It was held (1419–49) in the Hundred Years War by the English. Joan of Arc was tried and burned there in 1431. From 1499 to 1789, Rouen was, with interruptions, the seat of a provincial parlement. A judicial center, it furnished many magistrates to France. Rouen has been an archiepiscopal see since the 5th cent. and is particularly rich in ecclesiastical buildings (see Gothic architecture and artGothic architecture and art,
structures (largely cathedrals and churches) and works of art first created in France in the 12th cent. that spread throughout Western Europe through the 15th cent., and in some locations into the 16th cent.
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). Rouen suffered severe damage in World War II; its port and much of the city had to be reconstructed. Damaged, but since restored, are the cathedral of Notre Dame (12th–15th cent.) with its famous Tour de Beurre [butter tower]; the Church of St. Maclou and the palace of justice (both 15th–16th cent.); and the Grosse Horloge, a Renaissance clock tower. The houses where Pierre Corneille and Gustave Flaubert were born are both museums. A university opened in Rouen in 1966.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city and port in northern France, on the Seine River, 100 km from the sea. Capital of the department of Seine Maritime; population, 120,500(1968; including suburbs, 370,000).

Cargo, destined primarily for Paris, is transferred from sea vessels to river vessels and railroad cars at Rouen. In 1975 the freight turnover was more than 14 million tons; the cargo consisted primarily of oil, lumber, foodstuffs, machinery, and chemicals. A large industrial center, Rouen employed 47,000 industrial workers in 1968. Several sectors of the textile industry are located in the city, including the manufacture of cotton textiles. In the suburbs there is metallurgy and machine building (including shipbuilding). The region also has oil-refining, chemicals, wood-products, and paper industries. Rouen’s university was opened in 1966. The city has a museum of fine arts, which has an outstanding collection of ceramics.

Rouen arose on the site of an ancient Celtic settlement. It was captured by the Romans in the first century B.C. and by the Franks in the late fifth century A.D. In 911 the city became the capital of the duchy of Normandy, and in 1150 it achieved self-government. In 1204, Rouen was made part of France. Heavy taxation led to an uprising in 1382 by the townspeople. After the uprising was suppressed, self-government in Rouen was abolished.

During the Hundred Years’ War, Rouen was under English rule from 1419 to 1449. In 1431, Joan of Arc was condemned to death and burned at the stake in the city. Rouen became a center for the textile industry (woolens and linens) in the 11th century and for the manufacturing industry in the 16th century. During the French Revolution, counterrevolutionary forces supported by England were concentrated in the city. Much of Rouen was destroyed during World War II. The city was liberated from fascist German occupation by American and British troops in August 1944.

Rouen’s architectural monuments include the greatest work in the Norman Gothic style—the Cathedral of Notre Dame (begun in 1210 and completed in the early 16th century). The cathedral’s stained-glass windows are from the 12th to 15th centuries. Gothic churches include St. Ouen (14th to 16th centuries; stained-glass windows from the same period) and St. Maclou (1434–70). The latter church is an example of the Gothic flamboyant style. Also in Rouen are 16th-century wooden dwellings, the late Gothic Palace of Justice (1508–09), and the Renaissance-style Hôtel de Bourgthéroulde (1501–37). The city’s modern architecture includes the docks (1951, architects J. Remondet and others). The Museum of Fine Arts houses paintings and sculpture of the French, Italian, and Spanish schools.


Gasperini, A. Rouen. 1964.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a city in N France, on the River Seine: the chief river port of France; became capital of the duchy of Normandy in 912; scene of the burning of Joan of Arc (1431); university (1964). Pop.: 106 592 (1999)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005