See also: Romance
Romans-sur-Isère is a chief town of canton located on Right Bank of the Isere at 18 km at the North-East of Valence. With the city close to Borough-of-Toll, established on the other side of the river, it forms an agglomeration of about fifty thousands of inhabitants (Romanais and Péageois).
GeographyNovels is also located close to the solid mass of the Vercors, at twenty minutes in the car. The access to Romans is facilitated by the highway Valence-Grenoble, free between Valence and Romans, by the Gare of Valence TGV to 8 km, and by the highway of the sun .
Located in the south-east of France, the average valley of the Rhone, Novels and its city sister Borough-of-Toll are the center of a small area limited to the South and in the West by the competition with Valence, extending to north on the hills from the Bas-Dauphiné and including Is edge of the Vercors. It is a ground of meeting between the influences of Provence and the Lyonese.
Novels is placed on the great way of passage which nature opened between the the Alps and the Massif Central. But at the difference of the other cities of the valley of the Rhone like Valence or Avignon, Romans is not located at the edge of the the Rhone, but on one of its large affluents, the Isere, a not easily passable river with the accesses of its confluence with the Rhone. Also the Rhone-native road, a long time, borrowed upstream the ford of Novels and probably as of the 11th century a bridge close to collegial St-Barnard. Novels also profited from the outlet of the valley of Isere towards the Mediterranean.
The primitive site of Novels offers many assets: the " molasse" of its basement, a tender sandstone, provided the stone; its exposure protected from the wind of North while giving the best sunning in a climate presenting Mediterranean characters already. Abundant sources got drinking water, the wind the driving force with the mills with grains or oil which supported, as of the Middle Ages, the industry of cloth and the tannery.
HistoryThe town of Novels was born from the foundation in 838, close to a ford on Isere, an abbey by Barnard, archbishop of Vienna. This abbey receives the protection of the pope “of Rome” from where the name of the city which develops around. According to other sources, Romans is “the country of the Romans”.
The monks are replaced by canons, who constitute a chapter. The church becomes collegial Saint-Barnard. Around this abbey, merchants and craftsmen settle and develop a powerful industry of cloth. The first bridge on Isere east builds in 1049. It allows the perception of a toll, which offers incomes for the city. A market settles around collegial, it exists still today on the place Maurice Faure.
The church, destroyed several times by men of war of the vicinity, is always rebuilt. To protect itself, Romanais build a first rampart in the middle of the 12th century. The Romance church is transformed into Gothic church at the 13th century by the archbishop Jean de Bernin. It is also the time when Romanais begin émanciper capacity of the canons and elect consuls.
The enrichment and the independence of the city cause the covetousness of a local prince, the Dolphin, which annexes the city in 1342. This last, in 1349, yields its possessions to France: the Dauphine (departments of Drome, the Isere and the Hautes-Alpes). The act, known under the name of Treated Novels, is signed in the residence of the Dolphin close to the Old Bridge, followed by a religious ceremony in collegial Saint-Barnard.
It is then the beginning of the Guerre One hundred Year old. The city which had extended on the surface, decides to be protected by a second rampart which includes the “false boroughs”: districts of Presle, Pavigne and Saint Nicolas's Day. This rampart starts to be cut down towards 1830. Vestiges are still visible: a tower street of Rampart-Saint-Nicolas, walls of the quay Holy-Claire and Saint-Romain cemetery. The door of the last rampart become useless is selected to accommodate an automat martelor which gives the hour to all the city: Jacquemart. It is also the assertion of the civil capacity vis-a-vis being able it of the canons. Jacquemart de Romans (of “Jacques”, scorning term appointing the peasants with the the Middle Ages) is one of largest of those which remain today in nearly about fifty French cities. Its current uniform is that of the soldiers of the French revolution. An old automat is exposed today to the Communal records of Novels.
With the 15th century, a series of catastrophes for Romans  starts;: great colds, great drynesses, plagues, but as from the years 1480, a reversal of economic situation marks the one half-century beginning of prosperity for the drapery romanaise, which is exported to the Middle East. The clothiers and merchants romanais nouveau riches are made build private mansions in Gothic style blazing. This period still strongly marks the urban landscape of the historical center of Novels.
Second half of the 16th century joins again with the catastrophes. The religious and social crises reach their paroxysm at the time of the Carnival strapping of 1580. During two centuries following, the industry of cloth disappears while emergent the tannery and silk. For this period, the city covers convents and monasteries (Capuchins, Récollets, Ursulines, Saint-Just). The convent of the Visitation, built by stages between 17th and 19th, shelters since 1971 the international museum of the Shoe, as well as the museum of Resistance and the Deportation. At the 17th century, the “Borough of Toll”, on other bank of Isere, becomes an independent community.
In December 1788, the States of Dauphine, assembly of the province, open in the convent of the Cordeliers monks; their proposals prepare the General states of Versailles in 1789. The ideas that they state are already those of Freedom and Equality.
Emergence of the industry of the shoeAfter 1850, the economy and the company romanaises undergo their major change with the development of the industry of the shoe for which work, in 1914, 5.000 workmen and workers, at the origin of a powerful trade union movement. As of the end of the 19th century, Joseph Fénestrier imposes the first mark of shoe, “UNIC”. The city changes. The population reaches 10.000 inhabitants, the ramparts are demolished, the built quays, the railroad attracts many workshops of shoes. In the east, along the Gambetta avenue, are built the barracks Bon, the college, of the residences rented with the officers.
After the First World War, in the years 1920, the socialist mayor Jules Nadi makes build, near the road of Grenoble, a garden city with social vocation. The industry of the shoe profits then from a certain prosperity, the population counts 17.000 inhabitants; the urban push is exerted towards north, beyond the railway. The church Notre-Dame de Lourdes is built in 1937, in the modern “Gothic” style where a certain colonial style is found.
The world-wide crisis of the years 1930 is particularly dramatic for the shoe of Novels, which lived exports partly. The creation of a large economic fair, in 1930, seems one of the palliatives.
During the Second world war, Romans is occupied first once by the Germans in June 1940, then of September 1943 in August 1944. Resistance to the mode of Vichy is marked on March 10th, 1943 by a demonstration to the station against the departure of necessary for the S.T.O., then on June 9th, 1944 by the departure of the volunteers for Vercors where many maquis are. The men of the maquis who escape brutal German repression from July (massacres of civilians with Vassieux-in-Vercors, Vault-in-Vercors and the Grotte Luire) take part in the Release of Novels in August.
With the return of peace, the industry of the shoe becomes again flourishing, in particular with Charles Jourdan which creates stores in the whole world; it employs four thousand worker. The population continues to grow, of twenty thousand inhabitants in 1945 to thirty thousand in 1968. To accommodate them, with new districts are covered buildings like city HLM of the Currency, where live to eight thousand people. Suburban zones replace the arable lands all around the city.
Crisis and new industriesBut as from 1974, the crisis disorganizes the mono-industry of the shoe deeply: foreign competition is fatal for him. Many companies close, involving hundreds of dismissals: in twenty-five years, manpower pass from four thousand paid to a thousand. Decline also for the large industrial tannery: only remain the Russet-red Tannery, one of oldest of France, and the company of Chaix Tannery. Vis-a-vis these mono-industries, a saving in substitution is set up slowly as of the years 1960 (FBFC: nuclear fuel, SEIM: automobile equipment, etc) in the industrial park in edge of the district of the Currency.
In the years 1990, the saving in Novels can be pressed on an excellent road and railway service road thanks to a49 highway and with the TGV. In 2004, some names still defend a production of shoes of quality: Jourdan, Kélian, Clergerie. A new commercial dynamics is announced with the opening of “Marks Avenue”, a space of stores of factories, in the old Bon barracks. Agribusiness industry is a pole under development full.
Places and monuments
- the inheritance and the history of this city on the site de' association Safeguards Inheritance romanais-péageois: '
- International Museum of the Shoe in the old convent of the Visitation 17th.
- Store chain of factory: “Marks Avenue”.
- Turn of the clock Jacquemart, old tower of enclosure and carries strengthened 12th.
- Collegial Saint-Barnard romano-Gothic 12th/13th.
- Church Our-Lady-of-Doors 20th.
- Martyrdom of Récollets of the 16th century. A faithful counterpart of the forty stations of the way of Cross followed by Christ leading to the martyrdom and a reconstitution of the the Holy Sepulchre. It is a romantic cemetery classified Historic building since 1986.
- Old city with medieval houses 14th and private mansions Rebirth 15th/16th.
- Old Bridge, the Old Bridge is between Romans on Isere and Borough-of-Toll. The name Bourg of Toll indicates the fact that it was necessary to pay an important toll to cross the bridge.
- Gastronomy: the Pogne of Novels and the Raviole.
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