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NANTES, a city of France, chief town of the department of Loire-Inferieure, is situated on the right bank of the Loire, 35 miles above its mouth, in 47° 13' N. lat. and 1° 33' W. long. In population (117,555 inhabitants in 1881) it is the first city of Brittany. At Nantes the Loire receives on the left hand the Sevre Nantaise, and on the right the Erdre, which forms the outlet of the canal between Nantes and Brest; and a large number of bridges spanning the various branches of the different streams join the several quarters of the city. Along the left bank of the Loire stretches an ever-extending line of factories and shipbuilding yards. In all there are 6 miles of quays, 21 miles traversing the city in its greatest breadth from east to west along the main river. The largest vessels at present come no farther than St Nazaire, but a canal is being made on the left bank which will allow vessels drawing 16 feet to come up to the city. Nantes lies 264 miles west-south-west of Paris by the Angers and Le Mans Railway, and 40 miles from St Nazaire. Other lines connect it with Rennes 9,,ia Chdteaubriant, La Roche-sur-Yon, Paimbceuf, and Pornic.
The cathedral of Nantes, commenced in 1434 in the Gothic style, is still unfinished. Its length will be, when completed, 335 feet, and the nave is 85 feet wide and 123 feet in height. The towers are 205 feet high. There are two interesting monuments in the transept, - on the right Michel Colomb's tomb of Francis II., duke of Brittany, and his second wife Marguerite de Foix (1507), and on the left that of General Lamoriciere by Paul Dubois. The former consists of a white marble base covered by a black marble slab on which rest the two effigies, the four corners being occupied by upright figures of Justice-, Fortitude, Temperance, and Prudence. Of the other churches the more interesting are St Nicolas, a modern building in the style of the 13th century, Ste Croix, which occupies the site of a-n old pagan temple, and St Jacques on the left bank of the Loire.
Previous to the Roman occupation, Nantes (Condivicenum) was the chief town of the Nannetes, and under the conquerors it became a great commercial and administrative centre. In the middle of the 3d century Christianity was introduced by St Clair. Clotaire I. got possession of the city in 560, and placed it under the government of St Felix the bishop, who executed enormous works to cause the Loire to flow under the walls of the castle. After being several times subdued by Charlemagne, Brittany revolted under his successors, and Norninoe, proclaimed king in 842, ordered the fortifications of Nantes to be razed because it had sided with Charles the Bald. The Normans held the town from 843 to 936. About this time began the rivalry between Nantes and Rennes. Pierre de Dreux, declared duke of Brittany by Philip Augustus, made Nantes his capital, surrounded it with fortifications, and defended it valiantly against John of England. During the Breton wars of succession Nantes took part first with Montfort, but afterwards with Charles of Blois, and did not open its gates to Montfort till his success was assured and his English allies had retired. In 1560 Francis II. granted Nantes a communal constitution. In the course of the 15th and 16th centuries the city suffered from several epidemics.- Averse to Protestantism, it joined the League along with Mercceur, governor of Brittany, who helped to raise the country into an independent duchy ; and it was not till 1598 that it opened its gates to Henry IV., who here signed on May 2d of that year the famous edict which until its revocation by Louis XIV. in 1685 was the charter of Huguenot liberties in France (see vol. ix. p. 564, 579, and vol. xii. p. 338-9). It was at Nantes that Count Chalais was punished for plotting against Richelieu, that Fouquet was arrested, and that the Cellamare conspirators were executed under the regent. Having warmly embraced' the cause of the Revolution in 1789, the city was in 1793 treated with extremest rigour by Carrier, of seoyade fame. Under the empire its foreign commerce was ruined. The duchess of Berri was arrested at Nantes in 1832 while trying to stir up La Vendee against Louis Philippe. Anne of Brittany, Charles Errard, founder of the French Academy at Rome, Generals Cambronne and Lamo•iciere, and Jules Verne were born in the city.