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Laon(läN), commercial town (1990 pop. 28,670), capital of Aisne dept., N France. It has forges, a printing plant, and factories that make heating equipment and metal goods. Situated on a rocky height c.300 ft (90 km) above the plain, it was fortified as early as Roman times. Laon was an episcopal see from the 5th cent. until the French Revolution. During the Middle Ages it was torn by bitter struggles against the bishops by the burghers, who ultimately succeeded (12th cent.) in obtaining recognition of their charter. Notable monuments include the vast Church of Notre Dame, St. Martin Church (both: 12th–13th cent.), and an octagonal chapel of the Templars (12th cent.).
a city in northeastern France, near the Oise-Aisne Canal; administrative center of the department of Aisne. Population, 26,300 (1968).
Located in Laon are the famous early Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame (about 1150–1215), the Church of St. Martin (mid-12th to 13th century), the Templars’ Chapel (mid-12th century), an episcopal palace (now the Palace of Justice, 12th to 15th centuries), remains of a hospital (13th century), and buildings of the former abbeys (18th century) of St. Jean (now a prefecture) and St. Martin (now a hospital). Remnants of 13th-century city fortifications have also been preserved.
During the war of 1813–14 between the sixth coalition of European powers and Napoleonic France, a battle took place at Laon on Feb. 25–26 (Mar. 9–10), 1814, between the Russo-Prussian Silesian army (about 100,000 men) under the command of Prussian general G. Blücher and Napoleon’s army (145,000 men). After being defeated at Craonne on February 23 (March 7), Blücher hastily pulled back to Laon, where in a two-day battle he repelled all attacks by the French, after which Napoleon retreated to Reims.