Located on the left bank of the Yonne River, in Yonne department, Archdiocese of Sens, central France. The See of Auxerre (4th–18th century) lost its territory at various times to Sens, orlÉans, and Nevers (detached from Auxerre c. 500); Auxerre's history, reflects its position between Sens, the Loire Valley, and Burgundy.
The Roman Autissiodorum was constituted in the late third century near the Gallic Autricum. By 400 it was one of the seven cities of the civil province Lugdunensis IV. It was in Frankish hands when its bishop Theodosius signed the acts of the Council of Orléans in 511. From the 10th century there was a hereditary county of Auxerre, which John IV conveyed to Charles V of France (1370). The territory passed to the Duke of Burgundy (1435), but was reannexed to the French crown after the death of Charles the Bold (1477).
Local tradition records the martyrdom of Priscus (Bris) and his companions in flight from Besançon during the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270–275). Peregrinus, who heads the episcopal list, may have been an itinerant evangelist. From Marcellian (306?–335?) can be traced a true succession, which includes amator (388?–418); germain (418–448), who was active in Britain (Bede, Ecclesiastical History 1:17–21); aunarius (561–605), under whom a diocesan synod assembled; and Wala (872–79), in whose pontificate the Gesta pontificum Autissiodorensium (Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne [Paris 1878–90] 138:219–394) was inaugurated. The episcopal domain, established by 700 and confiscated by Pepin the Short (751–768), was restored under Bps. Herbert I (971–995) and Hugh (999–1039). Later bishops were as much feudal lords as prelates, and the diocese was rent by the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion. Jansenism was strong, especially under Bp. Charles G. de Caylus (1704–54). The 106th prelate, J. B. M. Champion de Cicé (1760–90; d. 1805), saw the diocese suppressed in 1790 and the territory assigned to Sens. The concordat of 1801 gave the area to troyes, but the restoration of Sens as an archdiocese (1822) brought about Sens's jurisdiction over all Yonne, except the commune of Pontigny (since 1954). In 1823 the archbishop of Sens added Auxerre to his title.
Auxerre produced famous philosophers: heiric (d. 876), remigius (d. 908), william (d. c. 1237), and Lambert (c. 1250). The artistic worth of the city's three parishes is considerable. The former cathedral of St. Étienne, with stained glass of the 13th and 16th centuries, has a crypt (11th century) and an upper church with an elegant Gothic choir (13th century,) and nave (14th–15th century). The Church of St. Eusèbe (12th–16th century) is graced with a Romanesque nave. The Gothic St. Pierre (16th–17th century) boasts a late Renaissance façade. Significant too are the remnants of the 12th–century, episcopal palace incorporated into the Prefecture, and the abbey church of St. Germain, founded in the early 6th century, with 9th–century crypts (Carolingian frescoes) and an upper church (13th–century choir and 15th–century nave).
Bibliography: p. r. barbier, Auxerre et l'Auxerrois, pays d'art et d'histoire (Paris 1936). g. lebras, S. Germain d'Auxerre et son temps (Auxerre 1950). r. louis, Les Églises d'Auxerre des origines au XI e siècle (Paris 1952). Congrès archéologique de France: 116 e session: Auxerre (Paris 1959). e. jarry, Catholicisme 1:1100–03.
[h. g. j. beck/eds.]