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City (pop., 2006 est.: 136,942), northwest-central France. Gallic tribes inhabited the site before the Roman conquest. In the 3rd century AD it was made an episcopal see, but the Christian community remained small until St. Martin became bishop in the 4th century; a magnificent basilica was raised above his tomb in the late 5th century, attracting pilgrims for hundreds of years. In the 5th century Tours became part of the Frankish dominion; Charles Martel defeated Moorish invaders nearby at the Battle of Tours/Poitiers in 732. Under Alcuin it developed as a centre of learning. Though it prospered in the Middle Ages, it declined with the 17th-century emigration of the Protestant Huguenots. It was the seat of French government during the siege of Paris (1870) in the Franco-Prussian War. The chief tourist hub for the Loire valley, Tours still has the remains of the basilica of St. Martin. Tours is the birthplace of Honore de Balzac.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Tours, visit Britannica.com.