Aviva Directory » Local & Global » Europe » France » Cities & Towns » Lyon

The city of Lyon (also spelled Lyons), France is situated at the confluence of the Rhone and Saone Rivers in France's east-central area. Historically, Lyon was known for its production and weaving of silk; today, it is known for its gastronomy and its cuisine. Its economical base is eclectic, and it is a center of banking, pharmaceutical, biotech, and chemical industries. Additionally, it is the international headquarters of Interpol.

In the late 1400s, the Renaissance was born, and the whole of Europe was changing. A new version of humanism based on long dormant Greek philosophy and Roman Humanitas was taking hold. Science. literature art, architecture, and politics were all being reimagined. A goldsmith named Johannes Gutenberg invented metal movable-type printing and the printing press, forever changing most aspects of life around the world. Polymaths such as Galileo, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Johan von Wower were in their element.

And then there were the fairs. Italian merchants introduced fairs to the world, and Lyon benefitted wildly, with fairs helping to propel the city into becoming the richest city in France. The silk trade helped to bolster that position, and also helped to cement Lyon's ties to Italy. From architecture to literary works the evidence is plenty that Italians had an influence on the development of Lyon. Exiled Italians such as Gian Giorgio Trissino and Luigi Alamanni helped the movement greatly.

Lyon was one of the locations of the violence between the Protestant Huguenots and Catholics in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572 where a group of targeted assassinations and Catholic mob violence against the Huguenots took place during the French Wars of Religion. In Paris, on the eave of Bartholomew the Apostle's feast day, the massacre began. On August 22, the political and military leader of the Huguenots, Admiral Gaspard de Coligny was the target of assassination which resulted not in his death but in a shattered elbow and a finger being ripped from his right hand. Although the would-be killer got away and no proof was ever offered as to who had sent him, it is generally thought that Catherine de Medico or the Duke of Alba acting on behalf of King Philip II of Spain.

The Catholics feared there would be retaliation by the Huguenots for the attempt on Coligny's life. Tensions ran high, and the Queen Mother, Catherine Medici, went to speak with her son, King Charles IX, about the crisis and historians believed that they decided to kill the Protestant leaders. A group of men pulled Admiral Coligny from his bed and killed him, tossing his body out of a window. Huguenots were expelled from various buildings and slaughtered in the streets. people all over Paris joined in, hunting Huguenots. Bodies which had piled up in the streets were taken by carts and dumped into the Seine. The Paris massacre continued for three days. As word of the killings in Paris made their way into other cities, similar killings were now happening. Between August and October, massacres of Huguenots were happening in twelve other cities, including Lyon.

Similar carnage broke out in 1793 when the armies of the French Revolution terrorized Lyon for more than two months after the people rose up against the National Convention, the first government of the French Revolution. Buildings were destroyed and more than 2,000 people were executed. The buildings were rebuilt only when Napoleon ordered them repaired more than ten years later. The city was ordered by the National Convention to change its name to "Liberated City." A plaque was made which said, "Lyons made war on Liberty; Lyons no longer exists."

In the early 1830s, Lyon's silk workers were involved in two major uprisings demanding better pay and better working conditions. In 1862, Lyon's cable railways began serving the city. During the Second World War, Lyon was occupied by Nazi forces, which included the famed "Butcher of Lyon," Klaus Barbie. At the same time, it was a bulwark of the French Resistance, who used secret passages to help people avoid Gestapo raids and executed sabotage of the infrastructure. Lyon was liberated on September 3, 944 and Lyon now has a resistance museum.

 

 

Recommended Resources


Search for Lyon on Google, Bing, or Yahoo!