Laon (läN) [key], commercial town (1990 pop. 28,670), capital of Aisne dept., N France. It has forges, a printing plant, and factories that make heating equipment and metal goods. Situated on a rocky height c.300 ft (90 km) above the plain, it was fortified as early as Roman times. Laon was an episcopal see from the 5th cent. until the French Revolution. During the Middle Ages it was torn by bitter struggles against the bishops by the burghers, who ultimately succeeded (12th cent.) in obtaining recognition of their charter. Notable monuments include the vast Church of Notre Dame, St. Martin Church (both: 12th–13th cent.), and an octagonal chapel of the Templars (12th cent.).