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Toulon(to͞olôN`), city (1990 pop. 170,167), Var dept., SE France, in Provence, on the Mediterranean Sea. An important commercial port and industrial center, Toulon is France's principal naval center on the Mediterranean; shipbuilding and ship repairing are major industries. Chemicals, machinery, furniture, and cork are also produced. Toulon is also a growing center for aerospace and other related industries. Toulon first achieved eminence as a hostel for errant Crusaders during the Middle Ages. The city was fortified by Vauban in the 17th cent. and was the scene of many historic naval battles, including the Battle of 1793 in which the royalists surrendered the city to the English. The same year the young Napoleon Bonaparte gained distinction by retaking the city for the French. After 1815, Toulon became the center of French naval power. During World War II much of the French fleet was scuttled (1942) to avoid its capture by the Germans. Although it suffered considerable damage during World War II, the city has preserved the fortifications by Vauban and the Church of St. Marie Majeure (17th–18th cent.).
a city and port in southern France, in the department of Var, on the Mediterranean Sea. Population, 175,000 (1968). Toulon is a major naval base, with an arsenal. Its leading industries are shipbuilding and fishing, as well as the production of chemicals and foodstuffs.
The history of Toulon can be traced at least to the third century A.D.; the city is mentioned in documents of that period as the Roman harbor of Telo Martius. During the Middle Ages the city served as an episcopal see. Between 1679 and 1701, with the construction of fortifications by the French engineer Vauban, Toulon was transformed into a major fortress, capable of withstanding a siege by imperial troops under Prince Eugene of Savoy in 1707. In July 1793 the city was seized by counterrevolutionary mutineers, who acted with the support of the British Navy; but in December of that year the British ships were forced to withdraw under concentrated fire by French artillery, commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte, and the city was retaken. In 1815, Toulon became the main mooring site of the French Navy.
After the capitulation of France in 1940, part of the French Navy remained at Toulon. On Nov. 27, 1942, however, when the fascist German troops, who had invaded the unoccupied zone of France earlier that month, moved to seize the French fleet, patriotic French sailors scuttled their ships and blew up the base arsenal. Toulon was liberated by the French Army in August 1944.