Narbonne (närbônˈ) [key], city (1990 pop. 47,086), Aude dept., S France, near the Mediterranean coast. It is the commercial center of a wine-growing region and an industrial city producing sulfur, copper, and clothing. A uranium processing plant was built there in 1959. It was the first Roman colony established in Transalpine Gaul (118 B.C.) and was known as Narbo Martius; it later became the capital of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis. Narbonne was an archiepiscopal see from the 4th cent. until 1801. The city was occupied by the Visigoths in A.D. 413 and taken by the Saracens in 719 and the Franks in 759. It later became the seat of the viscounts of Narbonne, vassals of the counts of Toulouse, and was united to the French crown in 1507. Its port, silted up in 1320, brought great wealth to the city, especially during the Middle Ages. Narbonne was an important center of the Jews in the Middle Ages. Their expulsion (late 13th cent.) and the Black Death (1310), which is said to have taken 30,000 lives, were severe blows to the city's prosperity. In Narbonne are the remains of a Roman amphitheater and bridge, the splendid St. Just Cathedral (13th–14th cent.), and an archiepiscopal palace (13th cent.), now the town hall and museum.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.