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(Eng. and Ger. mĕts, Fr. mĕs), city (2010 est. pop. 127,000), capital of Moselle dept., NE France, on the Moselle River. It is a cultural, commercial, and transportation center of LorraineLorraine
, Ger. Lothringen, former province and former administrative region, NE France, bordering in the N on Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany, in the E on Alsace, in the S on Franche-Comté, and in the W on Champagne.
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, an industrial city producing metals, machinery, tobacco, clothing, and food products, and the home of one of France's largest military bases. It is one of eight cities targeted by the French government for special planning and development.

Of pre-Roman origin, the city was the capital of the Mediomatrici, a Gallic people. One of the most important cities of Roman Gaul, it was invaded and destroyed by the Vandals (406) and the Huns (451). Metz was an early episcopal see and became the capital of AustrasiaAustrasia
, northeastern portion of the Merovingian kingdom of the Franks in the 6th, 7th, and 8th cent., comprising, in general, parts of E France, W Germany, and the Netherlands, with its capital variously at Metz, Reims, and Soissons.
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 (the eastern portion of the MerovingianMerovingians,
dynasty of Frankish kings, descended, according to tradition, from Merovech, chief of the Salian Franks, whose son was Childeric I and whose grandson was Clovis I, the founder of the Frankish monarchy.
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 Frankish empire) in the 6th cent.

After the division of the Frankish empire (8th cent.) the bishops of Metz greatly increased their power, ruling a relatively vast area as a fief of the Holy Roman Empire. Metz was a major cultural center of the Carolingian Renaissance (8th cent.) and was later (10th cent.) a prosperous commercial city with an important Jewish community. Metz became a free imperial city in the 12th cent. and was then one of the richest and most populous cities of the empire. During the ReformationReformation,
religious revolution that took place in Western Europe in the 16th cent. It arose from objections to doctrines and practices in the medieval church (see Roman Catholic Church) and ultimately led to the freedom of dissent (see Protestantism).
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 the bourgeoisie of Metz welcomed Protestantism, but the city never became a bastion of Calvinism, and the uneasy bourgeoisie accepted the protection of the French crown.

In 1552, Henry II annexed the three bishoprics of Lorraine (Metz, Toul, and VerdunVerdun
, town (1990 pop. 23,427), Meuse dept., NE France, in Lorraine, on the Meuse River. A strategic transportation center, Verdun has varied industries and is situated in an agricultural region.
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), and soon after, Metz, under the command of François de Guise, resisted a long siege (1552–53) by Emperor Charles V. The Peace of Westphalia (1648), ending the Thirty Years WarThirty Years War,
1618–48, general European war fought mainly in Germany. General Character of the War

There were many territorial, dynastic, and religious issues that figured in the outbreak and conduct of the war.
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, confirmed the three bishoprics in French possession. An important fortress and garrison town, Metz was besieged (1870) by the Germans in the Franco-Prussian WarFranco-Prussian War
or Franco-German War,
1870–71, conflict between France and Prussia that signaled the rise of German military power and imperialism. It was provoked by Otto von Bismarck (the Prussian chancellor) as part of his plan to create a unified German
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, and after a two-month siege, 179,000 French soldiers under Marshall Achille Bazaine capitulated. During the German annexation of E Lorraine (1871–1918), Metz, largely French-speaking, was a center of pro-French sentiment. During World War II the city suffered greatly under German occupation.

There are many Gallo-Roman ruins in Metz, including an aqueduct, thermal baths, and part of an amphitheater. Much has also been preserved from the medieval period. The celebrated Cathedral of St. Étienne, built from c.1221 to 1516, has one of Europe's largest collections of stained glass. The Place Sainte-Croix is a square surrounded by medieval houses (13th–15th cent.). Metz has several other churches, including St. Pierre-de-la-Citadelle Basilica, mansions from the Middle Ages, and many beautiful promenades. The city is also the site of the futuristic Pompidou-Metz museum (2010), the first regional branch of Paris's BeaubourgBeaubourg
, popular name for the Georges Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture
, museum in Paris, France; the popular name is derived from the district in which it is located.
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 (Pompidou Center). Paul VerlaineVerlaine, Paul
, 1844–96, French poet. He gained some notice with the Parnassian poetry of Poèmes saturniens (1866) and Fêtes galantes (1869) and became a figure in the bohemian literary world of Paris.
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 was born in Metz.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in northeastern France, on the Moselle River. Administrative center of the department of Moselle. Population, 107,500 (1968). Important transportation hub and a main economic center of Lorraine. Metz has machine-building, chemical, food, and footwear industries. Iron-ore mines and metallurgical plants are located near the city.

In antiquity Metz was a settlement of the Gallic tribe Mediomatrici. Originally called Divodurum, it was named Mettis in the fifth century. Under the Romans it was an important administrative, trade, and handicrafts center, and in the fourth century it became a bishop’s seat. After the Prankish conquest, Metz became one of the chief cities of the kingdom of Austrasia and a major cultural center of the Carolingian renaissance. When the Carolingian empire was divided in the ninth century, Metz fell into the hands of the West Prankish kingdom and later became an important economic and political center in Lorraine. In the 13th century it gained the status of an imperial city after a long struggle with the bishop and the feudal lords.

Metz was annexed by France in 1552 (it was definitively incorporated in 1648) and turned into a stong military fortress. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, Marshal A. F. Bazaine’s Rhine Army, which surrendered on Oct. 27, 1870, was besieged by Prussian troops in Metz. Metz passed to Germany under the Treaty of Frankfurt of 1871 and was returned to France by the Treaty of Versailles of 1919. It was occupied by fascist German troops from 1940 to 1944.

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


a city in NE France on the River Moselle: a free imperial city in the 13th century; annexed by France in 1552; part of Germany (1871--1918); centre of the Lorraine iron-mining region. Pop.: 123 776 (1999)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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