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  • Richard A. Sundt


French city and capital of the south-eastern département of Tarn. The wedge-shaped quarter known as Castelviel, on the south bank of the River Tarn and directly west of the cathedral (see §1 below), constitutes the oldest part of the city, originally a Celtic settlement. Although important during Gallo-Roman times as a distribution centre for local agricultural goods, Albi developed formal urban institutions only in the 6th century ad when the city was under Frankish rule. Christianity was probably introduced into the Albigeois shortly after ad 250, and an episcopal see was established at Albi a century and a half later. Until 1678, when it was elevated to an archdiocese, the bishopric of Albi was suffragan to the metropolitan see at Bourges. Despite the upheavals resulting from the Albigensian Crusade, the Inquisition and conflicts between the townspeople and their rulers, the 13th century was a prosperous one for Albi. During this period a number of important religious and civic buildings were initiated, and they still largely define the city’s architectural character. The earliest is the fortified episcopal palace, La Berbie, begun ...

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