Fire and murderous fury in medieval French city Laon

Aerial view of Laon, with the cathedral dominating the cityscape.

In a series revealing the history of France’s cities, medievalist Julia Faiers uncovers the gruesome past of Laon, in Aisne

The history of Laon and its cathedral is exceptionally dramatic even by medieval standards.

The town’s story is punctuated by murders, conflagrations, looting and civil disobedience. And all this before 1150!

The original cathedral church of the diocese of Laon, dating from the 10th or 11th century, was razed during the Easter Insurrection of 25 April 1112, after talks between the merchants of Laon and the bishop broke down.

The town bourgeoisie had drawn up a communal charter which permitted them certain freedoms.

Not liking the way this was going, bishop Gaudry (previously Lord Chancellor of England under Henry I) paid the king to issue a revocation of the charter, which incited the merchant class of Laon to seek ...

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