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silk industry and the second empire
a new era

"Lyon has declared war on Liberty. Lyon is no more." This decree by the Convention of 12 October 1793 placed France's "second city" at cross-purposes with modernity, since its inhabitants, unlike the majority of French people, did not join the Revolution. As a city without a parliament, Lyon shared in the period's hopes and its fears, including the price of bread and the cuts in state subsidies. However, the Lyon Consulate (the name of Lyon's municipal administration, not to be confused with the Consulate that ruled the entire country starting in 1798) relied on a Swiss regiment to bring the popular uprising under control no later than the spring of 1789. At the same time, the first monarchist plots were being hatched there, encouraged in early 1790 by the Comte ďArtois, who led the Lyonnais to believe he would return from Turin and protect Louis XVI, then a prisoner in Paris. The king's flight to Varennes in June 1791 heightened this opposition at a time when the entire southwest region of France seemed on the verge of tipping over into counterrevolution.

From mid-August 1792 into fall 1793 a number of political battles failed to sharpen the city's social divisions to the breaking point, although a Committee for Popular Rescue, formed in April under the direction of Joseph Chalier, called for the implementation of measures—mainly concerning taxation—that were copied from the Parisian sans-culottes. The conflict became acute, however, on 28–29 May, days of veritable civil war. The committee was disbanded and Chalier and his cohorts were arrested and scheduled to be guillotined on 16 July, at the same time that a Lyonnais army was being formed under a monarchist officer, the Comte de Précy. The stage was set for the tragedy to begin. Although they were against the convention, not all Lyonnais were monarchists. They did apparently subscribe however to the Girondins' federalist tone, which resonated deeply with the age-old Lyonnais dream of autonomy. On 7 August 1792, Republican troops laid siege to the city, which they simultaneously bombarded and blockaded on 12 May, just prior to taking it by force on 9 October. Thus began a period of bloodletting that would drain the population for many years to come, lasting until the arrival of Napoleon. At first the Terror was carried out by the Jacobins, whose excesses left permanent scars in the memories of many: nearly 2,000 real or supposed insurgents (1,896 to be exact) were killed, either guillotined or shot on the Brotteaux Plain. The houses of the "rich" were razed to the ground, and the city itself threatened to disappear as its population plummeted to about 100,000 inhabitants. After a general amnesty put an end to these excesses between the end of 1794 and February 1795, a new era of "white" terror began, itself reminiscent of the worst moments of 1793–1794, when the throats of prisoners were routinely slit. In the years that followed, the deeply divided people of Lyon waged an undeclared civil war, and on 20 February 1798 the order came to lay siege once more in order to subdue the "city in revolt."

silk industry and the second empire

The Lyonnais rebellion was short and the economic crisis it provoked quickly surmounted, a tiny wrinkle in an otherwise steady trend of growth that lasted from the beginning of the eighteenth century until the years 1875 and 1876. Indeed, despite the periodic setbacks faced by every luxury industry, silk weaving (in Lyon called simply "the Industry") grew so quickly that the city became the predominant silk-producing city Europe, up to and including the apex of its production beginning with the Second Empire (1856–1870). The Lyonnais were not only the period's best makers of finished fabrics, including the "dyed" and "tailored" materials produced by the Jacquard looms invented at the beginning of the century; they also ruled the market in raw materials. The silkworks of Lyon penetrated countries far and wide, including London and the United States. Their success was based on Lyon's large population of colorists and designers and on a well-developed financial system with bankers and brokers. The entire system depended on a productive apparatus highly adapted to the succession of economic peaks and troughs by exploiting the flexibility of a work process requiring minimal fixed capital investments. Lyon's population, which was just 130,000 at the end of the ancien régime, was still only 150,000 at the beginning of the July monarchy and 177,000 in 1851. However, Lyon is only one part of an agglomeration constituted by the annexation of three outlying counties in 1852, two of which (La Croix-Rousse and La Guillotière) were highly active textile zones. At that point the aggregate population grew to 290,000 and then to 384,000 in 1876.

The systemic flexibility that underpinned the industry's success was based on the organization of its production. In Lyon proper at least, instead of factories there was a burgeoning of small workshops, each housing one to five professionals in a quasi-familial setting and blended into the city's existing buildings. In the eighteenth century they sprouted on the right bank of the Saône side of the "almost island" Presquile and scaled the hills of the Croix-Rousse. By the nineteenth century they occupied its plateau and had spread out over the left bank of the Rhône, reaching into everlarger swaths of the surrounding countryside. In the 1860s the city boasted the highest concentration of workers devoted to the same industry in Europe, even though they remained organized according to a mode that adapted the domestic system to a large-scale city. At the heart of the industry, therefore, was a small kernel of "producers" (who in fact produced nothing) and a great mass of workshop foremen and their apprentices, marked by an ever-present debate concerning "rates," meaning the calculation of salaries. This debate degenerated into open revolts in February 1831 and November 1834, which, at the dawn of the Industrial Age, marked the first exclusively working-class uprisings waged in the name of workers' dignity. Although it took a veritable army at the city walls firing cannons into the working-class neighborhoods to subdue the uprisings, the losses in human life and materials were minor: Lyon was retaken with little difficulty, handed over by the rebellious canuts (silk weavers) themselves. Nevertheless, the revolts marked a turning point stretching far beyond Lyon itself, aptly phrased in the expression "Live by working, die by fighting."

The decades that followed enjoyed a relative calm. Despite the fear provoked by the radical and militant workers' organization known as Les Voraces (the devourers),the only specific action taken was by gangs of canuts who burned down several welfare convents where the nuns made the interns work to earn their keep. Still, somehow the city earned a reputation for being a "mecca of socialism" whose revolution was awaited with either intense anticipation or dread. (It did not come.) Under the Second Empire, the city's unfortunate reputation earned it a massive military presence and overt police surveillance, even as its prefect Vaïsse sought to refashion it in the image of Georges-Eugène Haussmann's Paris. The events of 1831 and 1834 made Lyon in the mid-nineteenth century an active center of cooperation and mutualism, with a highly literate population. This fact no doubt furnished the crucible for another, less violent sort of dissidence. Arms were no longer taken up inside or outside the Croix-Rousse, even though 1870–1871 did see some agitations. Instead, in 1852 the moderate Republican Hénon was elected to the assembly, where he was joined in 1857 by another moderate, Jules Favre. In 1869 they were turned out by more radical candidates (Bancel and Raspail). These elections, tinged as they were with an atmosphere of popular anticlericalism, were the countercurrent to Lyon's strongly pro-Catholic element, which took no pains to hide its hostility to the spirit of the age and which erected a basilica at Fourvière near the end of the century that strove to match Paris's Sacré-Coeur, a structure whose significance is well known.

This religious revival is the other great occurence in Lyon during the nineteenth century. It emerged as early as the First Empire, when the Catholic Church was restored and strengthened by the long reign of the Bishop Monsignor de Bonald, which lasted from 1833 to 1870, and counted a Catholic fundamentalist "Congrégation des Messieurs" among its ranks. Even more striking was the fervor evinced by common people. The appeal launched by Pauline Jaricot, who died in 1861, turned Lyon into the French capital of a great missionary awakening. On the eve of the outbreak of World War I, 343,751 copies of the Annals of the Spreading of the Faith, published in Lyon, were printed in several languages.

a new era

The new era began, however, badly for Lyon. An economic recession in the silkworks took hold, reducing productive activity industry-wide. The heavy silk fabrics of old were rejected by a clientele demanding lighter and more marketable materials. Colors and patterns were beginning to play a more important role in catering to the whims of ever-changing fashions. Weaving itself became mechanized. Furthermore, Lyon's status as a center of banking was ruined in 1882 by the crash of its premier commercial bank, the Union Générale, whose capital was instrumental to the industry's functioning. Lyon would never regain its status as a financial center, and even Crédit Lyonnais, founded in 1863, moved its headquarters to Paris. When the silk industry finally did recover at the height of the belle epoque, it did so only at the cost of the disappearance of thousands of artisanal workshops, displaced by mechanized looms operating in the countryside. On the other hand, the chemical industry that accompanied the boom in colors and patterning boded well for the future. The same was true of the local metallurgy industry, which had always been present in Lyon but whose orientation toward the production of iron materials was converted to the production of components for the electric industry and, above all, automobiles, for which Lyon became one of the first centers as early as 1914.

Outside of the occasional stir caused by anarchist agitation during the 1880s and 1890s, political debate in Lyon was framed by democratic principles and flowed through electoral channels. The Croix-Rousse had long since ceased to be synonymous with revolutionary expectations; the "Mountain of Work" squared off against the grand hill of Fourvière, the "Mountain for Prayer." Although the union brotherhoods and socialist political groups were more visible in the last years of the century, the still-active cooperative, arbitration-oriented associations truly held sway. Through them was born and nurtured a "Lyonnais radicalism"—radicalism, that is, in the French sense of the word meaning willingness to roll up one's sleeves and get things done. This radicalism brought together Republicans of all stripes (those who found themselves on the same side in moments of crisis like the Dreyfus affair) and those Socialists who could only be called "Independents" for lack of a better label. In 1881 Lyon won back the right to a mayor's office, which had been lost because of the city's history of insurrection. The post was first occupied by the "radical" Dr. Antoine Gailleton in 1882, who was later replaced by the Independent Socialist Victor Augagneur in 1900. In 1905 Édouard Herriot, a thirty-three-year-old professor who was an outsider with a reputation for being a Red, won back the spot for the radicals. At the outset of his tenure he surrounded himself by technical experts such as the architect Tony Garnier and the doctor Jules Courmont in order to build the Gerland battery in 1914 and draw up plans to build a hospital and a stadium. These turned out to be just the opening acts in a princely reign destined to last until 1957, by which time Herriot had long since become above all a man of state, whose core principles could be said to have embodied those of the Republic at large.

See alsoCities and Towns; France; Paris.


Bezucha, Robert J. The Lyon Uprising of 1834: Social and Political Conflict in the Early July Monarchy. Cambridge, Mass., 1974.

Garden, Maurice. Lyon et les lyonnais aux XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 1970.

Latreille, André, ed. Histoire de Lyon et du lyonnais. Paris, 1975.

Lequin, Yves. Les ouvriers de la région lyonnaise (1848–1914). Lyon, 1977.

Saunier, Pierre-Yves. Ľesprit lyonnais XIXe–XXe siècle. Paris, 1995.

Sheridan, George J., Jr. Social and Economic Foundations of Association among the Silk Weavers of Lyons, 1852–1870. New York, 1981.

Yves Lequin

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LYONS , capital of the Rhône department, E. central France. According to a medieval Jewish legend one of the three boats loaded with Jewish captives taken during the siege of Jerusalem docked at Lyons. Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, was exiled to the city by Caligula in 39 c.e. Lyons seems to have had a Jewish population in both the first and the second centuries. Little more is known about Jews in Lyons until the beginning of the ninth century, however, when there was a large, prosperous, and powerful Jewish community in the city. The Jews owned slaves and also employed Christian laborers in their homes and in their commercial and agricultural enterprises. Relations between Jews and their Christian neighbors appear to have been amicable. Jewish vintners and butchers sold their merchandise to both Jews and Christians. Jews also served as purveyors to the imperial palace. Some Jews were employed in public service, especially as collectors of imposts and taxes. Their religious services also appear to have been attended by Christians, many of whom declared that they preferred the preaching of the Jews to that of the Catholic priests. Such opinions could only have been an extreme irritant to the bishop, *Agobard, who had hoped to convert the local Jews to Christianity. A first attempt around 820, targeting children, involved the use of a measure of force, and encountered determined resistance from parents and the vigorous intervention of the emperor, *Louis the Pious. Louis had to intervene on several other occasions against this troublesome bishop, at times dispatching his special envoys in charge of Jewish affairs, the missi or magister Judaeorum. *Amulo, Agobard's successor, mounted a campaign against the Jews of Lyons, but without success. In the Middle Ages the Jews lived in the Rue Juiverie at the foot of Fourvière hill. When they were expelled in 1250 they were living in the present Rue Ferrachat. For a century Jews only visited Lyons for short periods, but in the second half of the 14th century there was again a Jewish settlement in the city. They paid municipal taxes, and special officials were appointed with jurisdiction over them. As the city was not part of the Kingdom of France, the new community was not affected by the expulsion order of 1394. They were expelled some years later, however, probably in 1420; most of them moved to neighboring Trévoux. Beginning in the 16th century, Jews reappeared in Lyons sporadically as merchants at the fairs and probably also as correctors of Hebrew printing. A group of Jews arrived in Lyons in 1548 (perhaps from Spain and Portugal), but they too were forced to leave. Apparently Joseph *Nasi opened a bank there for some time, but it was closed down by Henri II. A community gradually reestablished itself in the 17th century, consisting mainly of families from Avignon as well as from Comtat Venaissin, Alsace, and Bordeaux. In 1775, the community officially requested permission to open a cemetery. At first they bought space in the vaults of the city hospital. Twenty years later they were able to purchase a cemetery at La Guillotière. Nevertheless, the number of Jews remained insignificant, and there was no synagogue or permanent prayer room.

[Bernhard Blumenkranz /

David Weinberg (2nd ed.)]

The community was attached to the *Consistory of Marseilles in 1808. With the influx of Jews from Alsace and Lorraine, the community grew to number 300 in 1830, and 700 in 1840. The majority lived in very modest circumstances, inhabiting two poor quarters in the Rue Lanterne and Rue de la Barre. From 1838 a prosperous industrialist, Samuel Heyman de Ricqulès, was leader of the community. De Ricqulès initially endowed Jewish schools and charitable institutions with the intention of reforming them; after a few years, however, he encountered hostility from more traditional elements and was forced to retire. The number of Jews grew to 1,000 in 1848 and 1,200 in 1854. The community acquired the services of a salaried rabbi in 1850. In 1857 it formed its own consistory, which also included Saint-Étienne (116 Jews), Chalon-sur-Saône (125), Besançon (379), and Montbéliard (202). Among its presidents were Solomon *Reinach and Generals Levy and Worms. Solomon *Munk represented Lyons at the Central Consistory. In 1864 the Grande Synagogue was erected on the Quai Tilsitt. At the beginning of the 20th century, with the arrival of immigrants from the Mediterranean area, a Sephardi community was formed in the suburb of Saint-Fons. On the eve of World War ii Lyons had 500–600 Jewish families.

[Moshe Catane /

David Weinberg (2nd ed.)]

Holocaust and Postwar Periods

As a result of the Franco-German agreement (June 1940), Lyons became a "free" city. During much of World War ii, it served as a refuge for Jewish organizations, particularly the offices of the Central Consistory, as well as philanthropic and Zionist bodies. Information, both official and unofficial, instructions to the Jewish communities in France, protests against anti-Jewish measures, and secret orders of the resistance all emanated from Lyons. Many Jewish leaders were arrested there. Lyons also hosted a center for Jewish studies for refugee intellectuals, to which Léon *Algazi notably contributed, and a reception center for Jewish physicians, on the initiative of *ose. During the Occupation the city also provided sanctuary for large numbers of Jews. Probably its most important role was that of a major center of the Jewish resistance. Jewish resistance fighters generally operated in total isolation from other resistance organizations, with only occasional support and cooperation from Catholic and Protestant elements. Lyons was also the home of an active Catholic resistance effort, thanks to the pastoral letter which Cardinal Gerlier had read on September 6, 1942, in which he denounced the persecution of Jews. Led by the notorious Klaus *Barbie, local Nazi officials fought ruthlessly against members of the resistance and against Jews. The arrests, torture, and deportations reached a peak in August 1944, when prisoners from the "Jewish quarters" in the Monluc Fort prison were taken to Bron airfield to de-mine the area after the bombardment. After the war the remains of 109 individuals were uncovered.

After the war many Jewish refugees settled permanently in Lyons. Nevertheless, the community of approximately 7,000 was hardly any larger than in 1939. With the city's economic expansion and the influx of immigrants from North Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, the Jewish population had increased to over 20,000 in 1969. In 1961 the community inaugurated one of the first and foremost community centers in France. The various communal religious bodies – consistorial, Sephardi, and Orthodox – generally worked in close cooperation, and a new synagogue was inaugurated in 1966 in La Duchère, a new quarter of the city. A regional consistory was also founded in 1961. In 1987, there were said to be about 25,000 Jews living in Lyons. The community institutions include an ort vocational school, two religious schools, and numerous kosher butchers and restaurants. There are more than 20 other communities in the vicinity. Two are especially notable. Villeurbanne, with a Jewish population of 1,900, has a synagogue that was built in 1965 with money from the Claims Conference and with the help of Aktion Suehnezeichen ("Repentance Society"), a group of young Germans seeking expiation for Nazi crimes. The community of Saint Fons-Vénissieux was originally founded in the interwar period by Jews from North Africa. Numbering about 1,000, a majority of whom are industrial workers, it maintains a synagogue and community center.

[Georges Levitte /

David Weinberg (2nd ed.)]


A. Lévy, Notice sur les lsraélites de Lyon (1894); idem, in: Univers Israélite, 48–49 (1892/93–1893/94); T. Reinach, in: rej, 50 (1905), lxxxi–cxi; S. Reinach, ibid., 51 (1906), 245–50; B. Blumenkranz, Juifs et Chrétiens dans le monde occidental (1960), index; A. Coville, Recherches sur l'histoire de Lyon (1928), 538ff.; J. Kling, in: Revue de Psychologie des peuples, 13 (1958), 199ff.; E. Dreyfus and L. Marx, Autour des Juifs de Lyon (1958); F. Delpech, in: Cahiers d'Histoire (1959), 51ff.; H. Amoretti, Lyon… 19401944 (1964), 142ff.; Z. Szajkowski, Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazetteer (1966), 252f.

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LYON. Founded by the Romans as a provincial capital, Lyon maintained its prominence during the medieval period as the seat of a bishopric and an important law court (the Sénéchaussée ). Its location at the confluence of two important rivers (the Rhône and the Saône) made it a commercial center as well, allowing it to act as a transportation and financial hub between the Renaissance Italian cities to the south and the French and Flemish cities to the north. From the sixteenth century, silk and other textile production combined with banking to propel the city's economy, and its four annual trade fairs emerged as among the most important in Europe. Merchant dynasties (both French and Italian) came to dominate the city's governing council, or consulate, and continued to rule the city up to the Revolution.

The Reformation came to Lyon from nearby Geneva in the sixteenth century, and religious conflict temporarily damaged the city's economic dominance. Largely an elite phenomenon, Protestantism faded during the seventeenth century although economic and family contacts with Geneva continued. Prompted in part by Genevan and Italian models, Lyonnais merchants developed several new forms of poor relief during this period, including a publicly owned general hospital that took in foundlings and orphans, training them for work in the textile trades and supplying dowries to young women. The city's governing elite also created public institutions to supply food during grain shortages, including an urban administration to purchase grain at city expense, public ovens to bake bread, and an organized rationing system. Lyon thus served as a model in France for poor relief and administrative innovation in times of famine.

While textile production (especially silks) continued to expand through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the four fairs became principally important as financial markets. Their regularity, and the supervision over them by a powerful judicial court (the Conservation des foires ) made them attractive to merchants from Italy, Switzerland, and France who wished to make, pay, and exchange loans while minimizing the dangerous transfer of coin. During the latter years of the reign of Louis XIV, royal bankers such as Samuel Bernard manipulated these markets, burdening them with the royal debt and nearly bankrupting them. Though the fairs contracted and became less internationally important as a result, they survived and continued to function on a smaller scale for the remainder of the eighteenth century. Unlike other cities, Lyon maintained a remarkable degree of independence from other royal exactions because the merchants of Lyon successfully manipulated royal patronage and the system of venal offices to preserve a degree of autonomy. As France's "second" city, Lyon enjoyed a tradition of independence and resistance to central authority that continued through the Revolution and into the modern era.

See also France .


Davis, Natalie Zemon. Society and Culture in Early Modern France. Stanford, 1975.

Gascon, Richard. Grand commerce et vie urbaine au XVIe siècle: Lyon et ses marchands. 2 vols. Paris, 1971.

Monahan, W. Gregory. Year of Sorrows: The Great Famine of 1709 in Lyon. Columbus, Ohio, 1993.

W. Gregory Monahan

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Lyon, the greatest money market and commercial hub of France during the Renaissance, was a major center of printing and of literary and intellectual activity. The city's prosperity came mainly from its location at the intersection of key land and water routes. Also important were Lyon's annual trade fairs, which attracted merchants from throughout Europe. By the early 1500s, dozens of Italy's most influential merchant and banking families, including the house of Medici of Florence, had representatives in the city.

The richest part of Lyon's commerce involved the import of fine cloth from Italy. The city's trade fairs, started between 1420 and 1463, were occasions not only for exchanging cloth and other goods but also for financial dealings. French kings came to rely on Lyon's merchant-bankers to finance military operations, particular for wars with Italy.

French king Francis I encouraged the establishment of a silk industry in Lyon in 1536. Taking root rapidly, the industry employed thousands by the mid-1500s. Lyon's first printing press began operating in 1473, and enterprising printers soon made the city a leading center of European book production. However, the rapid growth of industry in Lyon resulted in considerable social unrest. Tensions were particularly high in the printing industry, where workers went on strike in 1539.

The government of Lyon was composed of 12 officials, elected by representatives of the city's crafts and a group of wealthy citizens. Major decisions were made by town assemblies made up of all those with voting privileges. In 1527 the city established an important secondary school, the College of the Trinity, which adopted a humanist* course of study. A number of leading humanists lived in Lyon, and the city's literary circles were enriched by several great French poets, including François Rabelais. In 1534 the city created the General Charity, which became a model in France for the reform of assistance to the poor.

Lyon became a center of Protestant reform, based on the ideas of John Calvin. The Protestant Reformed Church, established in the 1550s, grew rapidly. Protestants seized control of Lyon in 1562, but Catholics regained control the following year. A massacre of Protestants in August 1572 claimed hundreds of lives and led many Protestants to leave the city or return to the Catholic faith.

In the late 1500s, the Wars of Religion caused great economic hardship in Lyon. As warfare paralyzed trade, many leading Italian banking families fled. Moreover, between 1592 and 1594, the city fairs ceased as well. After peace returned to Lyon, some commercial activity came back. However, most of those engaged in finance preferred to live in Paris, which replaced Lyon as the banking and financial capital of France.

(See alsoFairs and Festivals; France; Money and Banking; Printing and Publishing. )

* humanist

referring to a Renaissance cultural movement promoting the study of the humanities (the languages, literature, and history of ancient Greece and Rome) as a guide to living

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Lyonsaide-de-camp, aides-de-camp, anon, Asunción, au courant, begone, Bonn, bon vivant, Caen, Canton, Carcassonne, Ceylon, chaconne, chateaubriand, ci-devant, Colón, colon, Concepción, con (US conn), cretonne, don, Duchamp, Evonne, foregone, fromage blanc, Gabon, Garonne, gone, guenon, hereupon, Inchon, Jean, john, Jon, Le Mans, León, Luzon, Mont Blanc, Narbonne, odds-on, on, outgone, outshone, Perón, phon, piñon, Pinot Blanc, plafond, Ramón, Saigon, Saint-Saëns, Sand, Schwann, scone, shone, side-on, sine qua non, Sorbonne, spot-on, swan, thereon, thereupon, ton, Toulon, undergone, upon, Villon, wan, whereon, whereupon, won, wonton, yon, Yvonne •crayon, rayon •Leon, Lyons, neon, prion •Ceredigion • Mabinogion • nucleon •Amiens • dupion • parathion •Laocoon •gluon, Rouen •bon-bon • Audubon •banns, glans, Prestonpans, sans •Octans •Benz, cleanse, Fens, gens, lens •Homo sapiens • impatiens • nolens volens • delirium tremens • Serpens •vas deferens • Cairns • Keynes •Jeans, means, Queens, smithereens •Owens • Robbins • Rubens • gubbins •Hitchens • O'Higgins •Huggins, juggins, muggins •imagines • Jenkins • Eakins • Dickens •Wilkins • Hopkins •Dawkins, Hawkins •Collins • Gobelins • widdershins •matins • Martens • Athens • avens •Heinz • confines • Apenninesbonze, bronze, Johns, mod cons, Mons, St John's •Downs, grounds, hash-browns, Townes •Jones, nones •lazybones • sawbones • fivestones •New Orleans, Orléans •Lions, Lyons •Gibbons • St Albans • Siddons •shenanigans • Huygens • vengeance •goujons • St Helens • Hollands •Newlands • Brooklands • Netherlands •Siemens • Symons • commons •summons • Lorenz • Parsons •Goossens •Lamentations, United Nations •Colossians • Sextans • Buttons •Evans • Stevens • Ovens • Onions •Lutyens •Cousins, Cozens •Burns

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Lyons, Fr. Lyon (both: lyôN´), city (1990 pop. 422,444), capital of Rhône dept., E central France, at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. As an economic center and a densely populated metropolis it is second only to Paris. Historically important as a commercial, financial, and silk-weaving center—a stock exchange was founded there in 1506—Lyons is a river port with automobile, chemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and software industries. The city has many institutions of higher education and fine museums. It is a popular year-round tourist center, and it is linked to Paris by a high-speed rail line. The headquarters of Interpol are in Lyons.

Founded in 43 BC as a Roman colony, ancient Lugdunum soon became the principal city of Gaul. There Christianity was first introduced into Gaul, and the importance of Lyons until c.1300 was chiefly religious. One of the earliest archiepiscopal sees in France, Lyons (which after the breakup of the Carolingian empire passed to the kingdom of Arles) was ruled by its archbishops until c.1307, when Philip IV incorporated the city and Lyonnais proper into the French crownlands. Of great importance were the emergence (12th cent.) of the Waldenses and the councils held there in 1245 and 1274.

Lyons became a silk center in the 15th cent. The industry was pre-eminent by the 17th cent., and reached its peak in the 19th cent. In 1793, Lyons was devastated by French Revolutionary troops after a counterrevolutionary insurrection, but it recovered quickly thanks to the invention of the Jacquard loom. During the German occupation in World War II (1940–44), Lyons was the capital of the French resistance movement. In 1987, Klaus Barbie ( "The Butcher of Lyons" ), who was head of the Gestapo in Lyons from 1942 to 1944, was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity.

A handsome modern city, Lyons has preserved interesting old sections, notably around the primatial Cathedral of St. John (12th–14th cent.). Its 1831 opera house has undergone a renovation (completed 1993) that included the controversial addition of a glass dome to the original carved stone structure. The large glass, steel, and concrete Confluence Museum (2014), situated on the tip of the peninsula where the city's two rivers meet, features social and natural science exhibits. Annual international trade fairs are held at Lyons.

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LyonBrian, cyan, Gaian, Geminian, Hawaiian, ion, iron, Ixion, lion, Lyon, Mayan, Narayan, O'Brien, Orion, Paraguayan, prion, Ryan, scion, Uruguayan, Zion •andiron •gridiron, midiron •dandelion • anion • Bruneian •cation, flatiron •gowan, Palawan, rowen •anthozoan, bryozoan, Goan, hydrozoan, Minoan, protozoan, protozoon, rowan, Samoan, spermatozoon •Ohioan • Chicagoan • Virgoan •Idahoan •doyen, Illinoisan, IroquoianEwan, Labuan, McEwan, McLuhan, Siouan •Saskatchewan • Papuan • Paduan •Nicaraguan • gargantuan •carbon, chlorofluorocarbon, graben, hydrocarbon, Laban, radiocarbon •ebon • Melbourne • Theban •gibbon, ribbon •Brisbane, Lisbon •Tyburn •auburn, Bourbon •Alban • Manitoban • Cuban •stubborn •Durban, exurban, suburban, turban, urban

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Lyon (Eng. Lyons) City and river port in se France, at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers; capital of Rhône department. The Romans founded Lyon in 43 bc, and it became the capital of Gaul. Its historic association with silk began in the 15th century. It was also one of the first printing centres. In 1793, French Revolutionary troops devastated the city. During World War II, Lyon was a stronghold of the French resistance. It is a major industrial area, and Europe's biggest producer of silk and rayon fabrics. Pop. (1999) 453,187.

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Lyons (lī´ənz), village (1990 pop. 9,828), Cook co., NE Ill., a residential suburb of Chicago, on the Des Plaines River; inc. 1888. Lyons was settled at the edge of an early travel route, the portage between the Chicago and the Des Plaines rivers.

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Lyon the chief herald of Scotland, also called Lord Lyon, Lyon King of Arms, who presides over the Lyon Court. Lyon is recorded from late Middle English, and is an archaic variant of lion, named from the lion on the royal shield.