AVIGNON

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AVIGNON, chief city of the department of Vaucluse, in the southeastern part of France, on the Rhone, with narrow and crooked streets, contains a great number of churches and sacred buildings, among which is the church of the Franciscans ; several scientific institutions, and among them an athenaeum and a medical library; 2800 houses and 24,000 inhabitants; respectable silk manufactories, silkdyeing establishments, and other works. The country is agreeable, and extremely fruitful in corn, wine, olives, the Avignon berry (of a yellow color), kermes, sumach, and the richest fruits of the south. Here Petrarch lived several years: here he aw his Laura, who formed the subject of his most beautiful verses, and whose tomb is still to be found in the Franciscan church. The fountain of Vaucluse is five leagues from A. This city and its district, in the middle ages, was a county which the popes, who had already received the county of Venaissin, in 1273, from king Philip the Bold, as a present, bought of Joanna, queen of Sicily and countess of Provence, in 1348, for 80,000 florins. Joanna had fled to Provence because Louis1, king of Hungary, wished to take revenge on her for the death of his brother, her husband, whom she had caused to be murdered. The papal government retained the two provinces, under the rule of a vicelegate, till 1790, when, after many stormy scenes, the city, with its district, was annexed to the French republic, and, in 1791, was formally united with it. At the peace of Tolentino, the pope renounced A. and Venaissin. Louis XIV and Louis XV several times took possession of A., when offended with the popes. From 1305 to 1377, seven popes in succession fixed their residence in this city. The Catholic historians commonly call this period the Babylonish captivity of the popes. Near A. are found many Roman antiquities.