Administrative centre of the département of Cher in central France, 200 km/125 mi south of Paris and situated on the Canal du Berry and the River Yèvre; population (2005 est) 70,800. The surrounding district, once marshy, now has rich market gardens. Industries include the manufacture of aircraft, armaments, textiles, processed foods, and tyres. It is a trading town, particularly in wool and wine. The 13th-century archiepiscopal Gothic cathedral, St-Etienne, contains beautiful medieval glass.
Features The university of Bourges was founded in 1463 by Louis XI, but was abolished during the French Revolution. The richly decorated house of Jacques Coeur, who was silversmith to the king and helped finance Charles VII's armies, was built 1443–50 and is considered to be one of the best examples of French secular Gothic architecture, and is open to the public. The Musée du Berry is housed in the Cujas mansion, built in 1515 for a rich Italian merchant and subsequently home of the jurist Jacques Cujas (1522–90). The painter François Boucher is buried at the 15th-century church of St Bonnet.
History Bourges is situated on the Roman site of Avaricum. It was once the capital of the Bituriges Cubi, and later an important town of Aquitaine. During the 14th century, the town was the capital of the duchy of Berri. After the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, when the English occupied many parts of France, Bourges became the centre of French power. Charles VII was ironically nicknamed the ‘king of Bourges’; in 1438 he issued the Edict of Bourges, or Pragmatic Sanction, which restricted the Pope's authority over the French church. John Calvin, the Protestant reformer, was converted to Lutheran ideas while studying here.