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Autun Vue d'ensemble 2.jpg
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Autun Cathedrale St. Lazare 8.jpg
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From top down, left to right: panoramic view, city hall, Autun Cathedral and lycée militaire
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Coat of arms
Location of Autun
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Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region location map.svg
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Coordinates: 46°57′06″N4°17′58″E / 46.9517°N 4.2994°E / 46.9517; 4.2994 Coordinates: 46°57′06″N4°17′58″E / 46.9517°N 4.2994°E / 46.9517; 4.2994
Country France
Region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Department Saône-et-Loire
Arrondissement Autun
Canton Autun-1, Autun-2
Intercommunality Communauté de communes du Grand Autunois Morvan
  Mayor (2017–2020) Vincent Chauvet (REM)
61.52 km2 (23.75 sq mi)
 (2017-01-01) [1]
  Density220/km2 (560/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
710014 /71400
Elevation280–642 m (919–2,106 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Autun (French pronunciation:  [otœ̃] ) is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department, France. Located in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, it was founded during the Principate era of the early Roman Empire by Emperor Augustus as Augustodunum to give a Roman capital to the Gallic people Aedui, who had Bibracte as their political centre. In Roman times the city may have been home to 30,000 to 100,000 people, according to different estimates. [2] Nowadays, Autun has a population of about 15,000.


Early history

Augustodunum was founded during the reign of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, after whom it was named. It was the civitas "tribal capital" of the Aedui, Continental Celts who had been allies and "brothers" (fratres) of Rome since before Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars. Augustodunum was a planned foundation replacing the original oppidum Bibracte, located some 25 km (16 mi) away. Several elements of Roman architecture such as walls, gates, and a Roman theater are still visible in the town.

Roman theater Theatre romain Autun.JPG
Roman theater

In AD 356, a force of Alemanni brought the siege of Autun. The disrepair of the walls left the city in danger of falling. Autun was saved by the arrival of the Emperor Julian in one of his early military successes. In Late Antiquity, Autun became famous for its schools of rhetoric. A world map based on the Geography of Ptolemy was famous for its size and was displayed in the portico of one of the schools. It may have survived until early modern times. [3]

Janus Temple Temple Janus angle.jpg
Janus Temple

In 532 the Merovingian kings Childebert I and Clothar I in battle of Autun defeated the Burgundians led by king Godomar and took over the country of Burgundy.

In 725, the Umayyad general Anbasa ibn Suhaym Al-Kalbi (عنبسة بن سحيم الكلبي) marched up the Saône valley to Autun. On 22 August 725 he captured the town after defeating forces led by the local bishop, Émilien of Nantes, who was slain during the course of the battle.

Autun marks the easternmost extent of the Umayyad campaign in Europe. However, the position was never retained, and Anbasa died soon after. The Umayyads are known to have raided the lower Rhone during the next decade, but Uzès was their northernmost stronghold and possibly Marseille the easternmost coastal stronghold. In 880, Count Richard of Autun was made the first duke of Burgundy.

Modern times

Historical population

In 1788, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord became bishop of Autun. He was elected member of the clergy for the Estates-General of 1789.

The High School plays an important role in the history of the city and even France since Napoleon, who gave it its current name and whose brothers Joseph and Lucien studied there. This school continues to operate today. The decorated wrought iron gates were erected in 1772; the subjects taught in the school are indicated by various representations of objects along the top of these grids.

During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the leader of the Army of the Vosges, Giuseppe Garibaldi, [4] chose the city as his headquarters.


The city boasts two ancient Roman gates (Porte Saint-André and Porte d'Arroux) and other ruins dating to the time of Augustus. One of the most impressive remains is that of the ancient theatre, which was one of the largest in the western part of the empire with a 17,000 seat capacity. To the northwest of the city is the so-called Temple of Janus, only two walls (faces) of which remain. To the southeast is the mysterious Pierre de Couhard, a rock pyramid of uncertain function which may date to Roman times.

Couhard Pyramid Autun Pyramide de Couhard.jpg
Couhard Pyramid

Autun Cathedral, also known as Saint Lazare Cathedral, dates from the early twelfth century and is a major example of Romanesque architecture. It was formerly the chapel of the Dukes of Burgundy; their palace was the actual episcopal residence. The cathedral was originally built as a pilgrimage church for the veneration of the relic Saint Lazarus, mentioned in the Gospels, and considered the first bishop of Marseille, and who, always according to tradition, arrived in Provence with Mary Magdalen.

Saint-Andre gate Autun porte Saint-Andre.JPG
Saint-André gate
Arroux gate Autun Porte Arroux PA00113093 06 JPM.JPG
Arroux gate

Autun's 12th-century bishop, Étienne de Bâgé, probably built the church in response to the construction of Ste. Madeleine at nearby Vézelay, home to the French cult of Mary Magdalene. St. Lazare was only later elevated to the rank of cathedral, replacing the former cathedral dedicated to St. Nazaire. [5]

The Autun Cathedral is famous for its architectural sculpture, particularly the tympanum of The Last Judgment above the west portal, surviving fragments from the lost portal of the north transept, and the capitals in the nave and choir. All of these are traditionally considered the work of Gislebertus, whose name is on the west tympanum. It is uncertain whether Gislebertus is the name of the sculptor or of a patron. If Gislebertus is in fact the artist, he is one of very few medieval artists whose name is known.

Other notable connections


Autun remparts (defensive walls from the Roman Era) Autun remparts.jpg
Autun remparts (defensive walls from the Roman Era)
Tour des Ursulines near the Autun Cathedral Kathedrale in Autun01.jpg
Tour des Ursulines near the Autun Cathedral

Autun's best known museum is the Musée Rolin. It houses historical artistic collections.

Near Autun, tourists can also see:

Sister cities

Autun has sister city relationships with the following municipalities.

Stevenage United Kingdom1975
Ingelheim am Rhein Germany
Kawagoe Japan2002 [7]
Arévalo Spain2005

See also

Related Research Articles

The Aedui, Haedui, or Hedui were a Gallic tribe, dwelling in the modern Burgundy region during the La Tène and Roman periods.

Year 725 (DCCXXV) was a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 725 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

58 BC Calendar year

Year 58 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Piso and Gabinius. The denomination 58 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Vézelay Abbey Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay, France

Vézelay Abbey is a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the east-central French department of Yonne. The Benedictine abbey church, now the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, with its complex program of imagery in sculpted capitals and portals, is one of the outstanding masterpieces of Burgundian Romanesque art and architecture. Sacked by the Huguenots in 1569, the building suffered neglect in the 17th and the 18th centuries and some further damage during the period of the French Revolution.

Chalon-sur-Saône Subprefecture and commune in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France

Chalon-sur-Saône is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in eastern France.

Bibracte oppidum

Bibracte, a Gaulish oppidum or fortified city, was the capital of the Aedui and one of the most important hillforts in Gaul. It was situated near modern Autun in Burgundy, France. The material culture of the Aedui corresponded to the Late Iron Age La Tène culture.

Gislebertus French sculptor

Gislebertus, Giselbertus or Ghiselbertus, sometimes "of Autun", was a French Romanesque sculptor, whose decoration of the Cathedral of Saint Lazare at Autun, France – consisting of numerous doorways, tympanums and capitals – represents some of the most original work of the period.

Sequani Gallic tribe

The Sequani were a Gallic tribe, dwelling in the upper river basin of the Arar river (Saône), the valley of the Doubs and the Jura Mountains. Their territory corresponded to Franche-Comté and part of Burgundy.

Saisy Commune in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France

Saisy is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Autun diocese of the Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Autun (–Chalon-sur-Saône–Mâcon–Cluny), more simply known as the Diocese of Autun, is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. The diocese comprises the entire Department of Saone et Loire, in the Region of Bourgogne.

Autun Cathedral cathedral located in Saône-et-Loire, in France

The Cathedral of Saint Lazarus of Autun, commonly known as Autun Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Autun and a national monument of France. Famous for its Cluniac inspiration and its Romanesque sculptures by Gislebertus it is a highlight in Romanesque art in Burgundy and it is the seat of the Bishop of Autun. The Bishop of Autun set forth the construction of St. Lazarus Cathedral as a result of the large movement of pilgrims travelling to Vezelay as they progressed on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.

Nicolas Rolin chancellor of Burgundy

Nicolas Rolin (1376–1462) was a leading figure in the history of Burgundy and France, becoming chancellor to Philip the Good.

Mâcon Cathedral former cathedral in Mâcon, France

Mâcon Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church located in Mâcon, Burgundy, France. The cathedral is in the Byzantine architectural tradition.

Ancient Diocese of Chalon-sur-Saône diocese

The former French Catholic diocese of Chalon-sur-Saône existed until the French Revolution. After the Concordat of 1801, it was suppressed, and its territory went to the diocese of Autun. Its see was Chalon Cathedral.

Musée Rolin museum in Autun, France

The Musée Rolin is an art museum in Autun, Burgundy, France.

The Siege of Augustodunum Haeduorum is a conflict that took place in 269 AD, Augustodunum being modern-day Autun in Burgundy, eastern France. Victorinus had been declared emperor by the troops located at Augusta Treverorum in the fall of 269. However, only the provinces of Gaul, Germania and Britain recognised him.

Temple of Janus (Autun) Romano-Celtic temple

The "Temple of Janus" is a Romano-Celtic religious structure located in Autun, Saône-et-Loire, France, to the North-West of the ancient city of Augustodunum.

Abbey of St Martin, Autun abbey located in Saône-et-Loire, in France

The Abbey of St. Martin is a former Benedictine monastery in Autun, Saône-et-Loire, France, to the northeast of the city just outside the city walls, on the right bank of the Arroux and to the north of the Roman road from Autun to Langres, Beaune and Besançon.

Jean VI Rolin or Rollin, often referred to as Jean II Rolin to differentiate him from his father Jean Rolin or Rollin in the succession of the offices of Bishop of Autun, abbot of the Abbey of St. Martin, Autun, and prior of the Abbey of Saint-Marcel-lès-Chalon, was a French bishop.

Abbey of St. John the Great, Autun

Saint-Jean-le-Grand abbey of Autun, in Autun, Saône-et-Loire, France, is an abbey of Benedictine nuns, possibly founded by Queen Brunhilda and Bishop Syagrius of Autun. According to Gregory of Tours, it already existed in 589.


  1. "Populations légales 2017". INSEE . Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  2. Xavier de Planhol; Paul Claval (17 March 1994). An Historical Geography of France. Cambridge University Press. p. 47. ISBN   978-0-521-32208-9.
  3. John Brian Harley, David Woodward, The History of Cartography Vol I p. 290.
  4. Howard, Michael. The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France, 1870-1871. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1962. p.254
  5. Linda Seidel, Legends in limestone: Lazarus, Gislebertus, and the Cathedral of Autun (University of Chicago Press, 1999), p. 35 online.
  6. Laherrère, Jean (2005). "Review on oil shale data" (PDF). Hubbert Peak. Retrieved 2007-06-17.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. フランス共和国ブルゴーニュ州 オータン市 (in Japanese). Japan: Kawagoe International Center. 2003. Archived from the original on 2008-04-26. Retrieved 29 November 2014.

Further reading