Discover the Burgundy with tourist office


Discover Dijon with tourist office !

History of Dijon

The Middle Age.

It is convenient to fix the initial date at the end of the unity of the Roman Empire (395) or that of its fall (476) (early Middle Ages) and the final date is the taking of Constantinople by the Turks (1453), or the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus (1492) (Low Middle Ages). The Middle Ages experienced an apogee from the Xth century to the XIIIth century.

The castrum :

When the barbarian invasions begin, in the 3rd century, a fortified enclosure is built to protect part of the Roman city. This is the castrum. Its base is made up of huge blocks borrowed from Roman buildings and tombs, which can be seen very well in the portion of wall that was unearthed in the choir of the old Saint-Etienne church (Rude Museum, rue Vaillant ).

Of the thirty-three towers, one remains because it was converted into a chapel in the Middle Ages (Tour called the Vicomte or Petit Saint-Benigne). It can be seen in the courts of No. 11 and 15 rue Charrue. With its wide openings in arcades, it does not look like a tower of the Middle Ages.

The castrum is crossed from north to south by an arm of Suzon whose course is well known. What is striking is the smallness of this castrum, whose perimeter does not exceed 1200 meters (encircling a city of 11 hectares), and also the fact that it is not crossed by the Roman road of Chalon in Langres (the so-called Via Agrippa). The castrum is indeed a little west of this one, probably on a strategic road which serves the camp of Noue, on the present commune of Longvic, and whose remains are well marked in the park of the Colombiere.

The martyrdom of Saint Bénigne:

Arrested during one of the many persecutions against the Christians, he suffered martyrdom for having rejected the offers of the emperor Aurélien and the governor of the country, Terentius. A horrible martyrdom, for the apostle was at first quartered, and then alene was thrust beneath his fingernails, and he was set foot in a stone trough, where lead was sank. And finally it was thrown to food hungry dogs who spared it. As he had resisted these barbaric treatments, his skull was broken with an iron bar and his body pierced with a spear.

After her death, a Christian Léonille embalmed her body, which was placed in a stone sarcophagus.

The sarcophagus was placed in a crypt in the Christian cemetery of western Dijon. The sarcophagus became the object of worship. The basilica built by Saint Gregory:

Elected bishop of Langres, St. Gregory took care of this worship which seemed to him of pagan origin. One day, Saint Benigne appeared to Gregory and enjoined him to raise an oratory on his tomb. The bishop, moved, built a crypt where he himself descended the sarcophagus in 511, November 24. This anniversary is called Translatio Sancti Benigni.

This crypt, vaulted, was completed by a basilica at ground level. This church was consecrated in 535. Building with a nave and two collateral buildings. Rectangular plan.

The stone where Benigne had his feet sealed in the lead was pierced with small holes. The patients poured wine or beer and then washed their eyes. The cures were innumerable and the cult of the saint, already official, took extension.

The basilica was placed under the leadership of Eustade by Gregory who directed a group of men of good will. This community followed a sort of rule and kept the tomb.

The fame of the sanctuary attracted a crowd of pilgrims. In 584, the Merovingian king Gontran made an important donation: a very rich furniture to adorn the crypt and the basilica.

The end of the Merovingians coincides with a period of decadence for the abbey. The buildings begin to deteriorate more and more under the Carolingians and the chiefs of the abbey, chosen among the laity, introduce ideas little related to the rigor of the monastic rule. Revenues are used for secular purposes and the abbey is impoverished.

Isaac, true founder of the abbey:

Isaac, bishop of Langres, was the true founder of the abbey Saint Bénigne of Dijon. By a charter of 871, he created the monastery under the direction of the chorebishop Bertilon. The rule of Saint Benedict is adopted. The temporal goods necessary for the subsistence of the monks are constituted.

Isaac restored the basilica. The Sainte Marie chapel is a still visible trace of this restoration campaign (final chapel of the underground church reported from 938). Room almost square: 4.70 X 4.25 X 3.70 of height. Arched vault. Irregular device. Mortar beds two centimeters. Three bays juxtaposed open in the axis of the room. Modern bays restored in 1890. Chapel without original decoration. North wall: old stones with carolingian interlace set in the 19th century, just like the tombstone in the south wall: slab of the monk Turpericus, of the Merovingian period.

The basilica restored by Isaac is totally razed in the year 1000. No description.

The relaxation of the rule and the material prosperity of the abbey had brought about the decadence of the foundation of Isaac. Reform is indispensable.

William of Volpiano:

Guillaume de Volpiano, monk from Cluny, Piedmontese of origin, near Mayeul, abbot of Cluny.

The bishop of Langres, Bruno, asks Mayeul to send elite monks to Saint Bénigne. Twelve monks arrived in Dijon in 989, on November 24th. In 990, Guillaume is named abbot.

The buildings threaten ruin. On February 14, 1002, the first stone of the new buildings is laid. Guillaume himself directs the workers from Italy. It involves building three sanctuaries on the site of the 9th century buildings. : an underground church, shelter of the tomb of Saint Bénigne; a church at ground level for worship; a rotunda, at the bedside of the two churches, of three stories.

These three constructions covered a length of 100 m and a width of 25 m. The lower floor of the rotunda is the only remaining vestige of this ensemble.

The commune of Dijon in the 13th century:

Protected by its new wall and endowed with a communal administration, the city of Dijon knows a period of prosperity that will last until the first years of the Hundred Years War.

The city is also a crossroads – hence many hostels – but it does not have a notable industrial activity. It is found, as everywhere, mills and tanneries, manufacturers of cloth and canvas but the activity remains largely rural. There are many vine growers in the population who cultivate the vineyards of Montchapet’s slopes, the Marcs d’Or and the Poussots; the presses are numerous in the city. It is also a shopping center. The names of the Forges, Boiler, Glass or Basketry streets are reminiscent of the artisans who work there. There are fairs that attract regional trade.

The mayor, in old French the “maïeur”, is elected every year, on June 23, eve of Saint-Jean, by the assembled people at the cemetery Saint-Bénigne, in front of the Saint-Philibert church. Only in 1350 will be purchased, to serve as City Hall, a special house, called House of the monkey, on the site of the old Faculty of Letters, at the corner of Chabot-Charny and the School of Law.

The archives of the City are deposited in a tower of Notre-Dame, in a triple lock box whose three keys are entrusted to three different people. It is besides a bell of Notre-Dame which summons the people to the assemblies. It is from its steeple that a watchman watches constantly, at night to prevent fires, during the day to signal the approach of suspicious troops. The court registers and other documents of justice also testify that the brawls and night fights are numerous in spite of the vigilance of the lookout.

The watch also monitors the possible arrival of formidable brigands whose name alone makes even the bravest tremble with fear, these are the Rover Scouts. They are bands of bloodthirsty, unscrupulous men. They crisscross France in search of loot. They are organized in Big Companies. A man, often a noble, directs them. One of the most sinisterly famous is the company of the Ecorcheurs who puts fire and blood to Burgundy in the fifteenth century, at the end of the Hundred Years War. Because these men are unemployed former soldiers, Germans, Spaniards, French, Italians, peasants, lords, all mercenaries, who are paid to fight. They kept their weapons, but they forgot their origins, their morality and their family. They give themselves evocative nicknames: Brisebarre, Taillecol, Arm wrestling, …

Thick and greedy brutes, they massacre, they plunder and they ransack around. The most terrible thing is that you can not capture them: they change all the time. They also have in their pay a network of spies who inform them continually of the traps that they are given, and good shots to make. Their power is such that the princes are obliged to negotiate with them: in 1360, the regent Charles, future Charles V, son of King John II the Good (prisoner in England since the Battle of Poitiers in 1356), brother of Philip the Bold (of Burgundy), must sign with them, before notary (!), a treaty in which he undertakes to pay 12 000 gold florins, in exchange for which the Companies grant him the freedom to circulate between Paris and Picardy

Trade in Dijon in the Middle Ages

The medieval city is never very big.

The streets of the city reign intense animation as men in the Middle Ages live a lot outside. The houses are very open on the street. Every morning the shopkeepers open their wooden shutters and fold out a board on which they display their goods. The Maison Millière, in Dijon, is a good example. Passers-by are leaning on it at leisure and can thus examine in full day the proposed articles. Some craftsmen like the cobbler work outside, in the street. As trades tend to cluster in the same place, each area of the city has its own specialty and appearance.

All stores are at the same time the workshops where the articles are created. From the street one hears the bellows and the hammer of the blacksmith, the saw of the carpenter, the discussions of the regulars of the quarter at the barber’s, and dominating all that, the cries of the merchants. The most popular is the wine crier, who challenge passers-by with his powerful voice. The innkeeper hired him for a day or for a week, to announce the arrival of a new wine on the streets and make it tasted to the amateurs.

We must add to all these noises the jolting of carts of wood, the growl of pigs roaming freely, despite repeated prohibitions, looking for waste, the bleating of sheep that leads to the market, the shouting in full street of a tax levy or an auction, the insults of people who jostle to pass through narrow alleyways.

It is also necessary to imagine the sound of the bells which every morning makes open the shutters of the stalls, at noon to set the tools, for the time of the lunch, and each evening fold down the awnings and close the shops. Everyone stops at the same time. It is strictly forbidden to work in a light other than that of the day: it would be difficult to work for lack of clarity, or cause a fire.

A last bell, in the evening, announces the curfew: the drawbridges at the entrances of the city are raised, one closes the heavy wooden doors, one lowers the harrows. Teams of guards provide night watch. The city sinks into darkness and silence. Sometimes a loud flight of bells tears the calm of the night. It is the tocsin that warns of danger: an enemy army, a troop of brigands reported at the door, a fire that breaks out.

Shops on street  “Forges” in Dijon

In the Middle Ages, we did not like long streets, or at least we cut them under different denominations, to facilitate the identification of houses that were not then numbered and especially the task of the tax collector.

the 13th century :

In fact, most of the houses in the Rue des Forges were inhabited by a long succession of traders. Almost all were created for trading and more or less decorated by their owners according to their tastes and their acquired wealth.

The role of the money changer is to give, for payment to the person who arrives from outside the city, the currency used in the city, which is not the same everywhere, since each great commercial city (or each great lord) has the right to strike one’s own currency. Money changers work mostly on market days. You can see them in their shops leaning on tiny, very precise scales, behind a wooden workbench on which piles of varied pieces are piled up. By the middle of the twelfth century, at the time when Dijon was endowed with a municipal administration, the development of its trade had required the establishment of a house of exchange. One can imagine the difficulties then raised on the local markets by the contribution of a multitude of different currencies struck without a common rule.

At No. 40 rue des Forges (current Hôtel Aubriot), basements had been built with large vaulted cellars on pillars, which reached the street directly by stairs leading to openings whose height did not reach the human size. These cellars guarded, in all security, the monetary deposits and were called the Vaults of the Change.

If the trade of changer presented risks, it also offered big profits. One of the first money changers in Dijon was Guillaume Aubriot and held this office in the 13th century. It is he who probably made build, above the Voûtes du Change, the beautiful facade now restored. It is in this house that his grandson Hugues was born around 1320. He was the provost of Charles V. He was also the creator of the Bastille.

The 17th and 18th centuries :

The governor :

The first master of the province in the name of the king is the governor.

Since the seventeenth century, the governors of Burgundy are almost all from the illustrious family of Condé, first princes of the blood. In theory, they control the military forces, with the assistance of a commander-in-chief, the militia, which is a kind of conscript army, and the constabulary. In reality, their real power in the military is limited. Indeed, Burgundy, which is no longer a border province, hosts few troops at this time.

The Governor has no right to reside in Burgundy. He only comes every three years for a few weeks.

He represents the region to the king and often intervenes in Versailles in the services and in the ministries.

It controls the appointment of numerous officials, the officers, and indirectly, through the influence that it exerts on the states, mayors and aldermen.

Nothing important is done in Burgundy without the governor, who is popular there.

The governors of Burgundy

– Louis II of Condé from 1686 to 1710

– Louis-Henri de Bourbon from 1710 to 1740

– Louis Joseph from 1740 to 1789

The Intendant:

He is the other master of Burgundy in the name of the king.

The steward is a noble. He is often from a large Parisian parliamentary family.

Stewardship of Dijon is rather an appointment of end of career of steward. The logical consequence, after a long stay in Burgundy as intendant, is often a post of State Councilor.

The intendants stayed, until 1781, in the abbey dwelling of Saint-Bénigne. They are then housed in the Lantenay hotel, acquired by the Province. About twenty clerks, under the authority of the chief secretary and subdelegate general, assist the intendant

The power of the steward is unequal in the different regions that make up his generality. It is smaller in state countries than in election countries.

  • The steward controls the finances of these countries.
  • He intervenes with the states as commissioner of the king.
  • It controls secondary justice and worship matters.
  • It controls the military administration and the cutting and transport of wood.
  • It also has economic and statistical functions.
  • He exercises power over tax, education, health and printing farms.
  • He is in administrative litigation.
  • In the country of elections, he is responsible for financial matters and bridges.

From 1800 to 1839 :

On the eve of the Revolution, Dijon is only an average city (from 20,000 to 23,000 inhabitants), although the most populated of Burgundy and counting about as many inhabitants as Nancy or Montpellier. Some 85% of the population lives within the walls, on a hundred hectares, in the rest of the suburbs which cover about 80 hectares. These suburbs started in the Middle Ages and the sixteenth century towards the north-east (suburb of Ouche), have developed in several directions as south-east along the road Auxonne.

Dijon in the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth century:

The population of the city grew from 19,000 in 1801 to 27,000 in 1846, 32,000 in 1851, 60,000 in 1886, to reach 90,000 in 1931 and nearly 100,000 on the eve of the Second World War.

The first half of the 19th century:

If the departmentalization is a severe blow to the former provincial capital, the completion of the Burgundy Canal (1808 between Dijon and Saint-Jean-de-Losne, 1833 for the western part) stimulates some commercial development. The face of the city is transformed somewhat by the widening of certain streets (Rue Chabot-Charny, 1820) and the opening of the first squares near the fortifications, with neoclassical architecture: Saint-Pierre square (current Wilson), 1836; Place Saint-Bernard, 1836-1844, drawn by Léon Lacordaire, brother of the famous preacher. Henry Darcy establishes public fountains that bring clean water.

From 1851 to 1914:

The arrival of the railway, from 1851, constitutes a major event. The Dijon star is formed in the twenty or so years that follow. The marshalling yard of Perrigny, opened in 1886, will be at the origin of the new district of Les Bourroches. Dijon began to industrialize, although rather timidly, and especially in the 1880s.

At the same time, the strategic importance of Dijon means that the city surrounds itself with a belt of forts, built from 1878 to 1880, and that it becomes a garrison center, with 4600 troops in 1891.

Significant new developments are taking place in urban planning, the main one being the demolition of the ramparts (the Joliot municipal demolition plan, 1886), which spans some thirty years. The layout of the ramparts is taken up approximately by the boulevards and large squares of the end of the 19th century (boulevards of Brosses, Trémouille, Thiers, Carnot, Sévigné, etc.). The Republic Square, oval, was opened in 1888, at the location of the door and the bastion of St. Nicholas. Place Darcy is located, as well as the adjacent square, in the early 1880s, in a Hausmanian style, which does not lack majesty: single-storey buildings, hotels and cafes like the Rotonde, opened in 1882. Buildings Residential buildings also flank the Boulevards de Brosses and La Trémouille, while the Lycée Carnot is built along Boulevard Thiers (1893). On part of the site of the castle of Louis XI, whose demolition was completed in 1897, is built the post office, in front of which the Grangier square was opened in 1910. Various alterations are made to the historic center, as the creation of the place François Rude, in 1904.

Beyond the old enclosure, the peripheral districts develop largely, in the form of buildings joined irregular and rather badly built in the popular districts, then partly in pavilion form since the years 1880: district of the Fountain of the Swiss, from 1883; Bourroches district, populated by railroads, which develops after the opening of the marshalling yard of Perrigny in 1886. This period is also one where the contrasts between the beautiful neighborhoods are accentuated (alleyways of the Park, boulevard de Brosses, low Avenue Victor Hugo) and the mediocre neighborhoods combining popular housing and warehouses, factories such as, for example, in the district of Petit Cîteaux near the slaughterhouse, opened in 1858.

Around 1880, there are even real slums, as north-west in the district of Noumea extended by the city of Kroumirs, along the Suzon, agglomeration of huts, huts bordering uncertain and muddy roads. To the south, the tainted and unhealthy Tanneries district, with its low, damp hovels, is not in better condition, while insanitary conditions also prevail in the Raines and Ouche suburbs, not to mention the slums and backyards. from the center of the city.

Between two wars :

Under Gaston Gérard, mayor from 1919 to 1935, while some industries are showing a good dynamism, the expansion of residential housing resumed in all directions: Avenue du Stand neighborhood to the west, Bourroches to the south, from the top of Victor Hugo Avenue and the Montchapet district to the north-west, the latter in a clearly residential tone. When houses do not have a linear layout, such as along the road to Beaune, the paln is usually checkerboard or fish bones. From this time dates the district of Maladière, north of Dijon (today cut by the ring road), made by the city on an old field of maneuvers from 1923 (the church of the Sacred Heart dates from 1933 ). These residential districts are mainly intended for the middle classes, to which the law Loucheur facilitates the accession to the property.

A plan of development, embellishment and extension of the city is started in 1919 and approved by the city council in 1930!

Three zones are thus reserved for industry: towards the station and the port; on both sides of the Is-sur-Tille railway; in the district of the rue de Jouvence and avenue general Fauconnet, the latter quarter being without rail service, but already provided with industrial establishments, such as laboratories Fournier. These neighborhoods, close to industrial areas, are assigned to workers’ homes, garden-cities and modest villas, while the top of Avenue Victor Hugo, for example, houses pleasure houses or villas of some importance. ; the industries, whatever they are, are rigorously excluded.

The early 1930s saw the establishment of the sports park, in the eastern district, at the bottom of the Montmuzard hill.

Dijon, on the eve of the war, equipped with a network of trams, has about 100,000 inhabitants. But it’s a city still pretty much devoid of suburbs. Talant and Fontaine are still isolated villages on their hillocks, where the vine subsists in part. Longvic however reaches 1800 inhabitants and Chenôve 2500, thanks to the proximity of Perrigny. But in its current limits, the suburbs still total only 11,000 inhabitants in 1936