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Lyon was founded as a Roman colony in 43 BCE by Munatius Plancus, a lieutenant of Caesar, on the site of a Gaulish hill-fort settlement called Lug[o]dunon—from the Celtic sun god Lugus ('Light', cognate to Old Irish Lugh, Modern Irish Lú) and dúnon (hill-fort). The name was latinised as Lugdunum.  In Roman times Lugdunum was the capital of the three Gauls and symbolized the colonial power that made it a natural outpost of Rome. In the 11th century, after the barbarian invasions, Lyon awoke from the torpor into which it had subsequently fallen.

Later, the Christian Religion would have a profound influence on the city’s development. With the advent of the Renaissance, the town prospered and became a major trade centre, drawing numerous merchants and financiers. More particularly, Lyon found a new vocation at the end of the 15th century with the introduction of printing. In the middle of the 16th century the arrival of silk weavers from Italy gave birth to an industry that would continue to grow up until the 20th century. In the 18th century the town expanded as the renown of Lyon’s silk manufacturers spread across Europe.

The Revolution also strongly marked Lyon when, in 1793, the Convention ordered the troops to seize the city and destroy it. In the early 1800s, Jacquard invented the celebrated mechanism that doubled the number of looms working in the city and sparked off unrest that culminated in the silk weavers’ riots. During the 19th century, the city absorbed the surrounding villages and undertook a series of major planning projects with the development of the city centre, the construction of the basilica, a hospital, schools, etc.

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