|département: 89, Yonne|
Tonnerre is situated at an elevation of 207 m on a hill overlooking the Armançon valley in the région Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Tonnerre has a population of about 6,000 and is the district town of the canton of the same name in the département Yonne, sous-préfecture Avallon.
In Roman times, Tonnerre was the site of the Roman fort Tornodurum, located at the crossroads of two important Roman roads, one connecting Alesia (probably Alise-Sainte-Reine) to Sens, the other leading from Auxerre to Langres. Other roads already at that times connected Tonnerre with Troyes and with Noyers. The site of the first settlement was the elevated plateau which today is occupied by the church of St. Pierre. Towards the end of the 9th century, the place is mentioned as the seat of a count. In the 11th century the county passed by marriage to the counties of Nevers and Auxerre. The hospital Hôtel Dieu was founded in 1293 by the daughter-in-law of Saint Louis IX of France, Marguerite de Bourgogne who had retired to Tonnerre in 1287. The wars of the 14th and 15th centuries proved to be desastrous for Tonnerre. The town was looted and burnt to the ground, and great poverty was the lot of the citizens. During the 16th century the town flourished again, especially because of viniculture. During the French Revolution the county of Tonnerre was dissolved and incorporated into the département Auxerre, which in 1790 was renamed Yonne. The 19th century proved to be a flourishing period also for industry, especially when the stretch of the railroad from Paris to Tonnerre was opened in 1849. During World War II, parts of the town were destroyed by bomb raids.
The church of Saint Pierre [background]
was built to replace a Romanesque chapel which was destroyed in 1288 to make room for new fortifications.
The new church was built not far from this place. The mighty west tower was constructed around the turn of the 15th to the 16th century.
The large fire of 1556, which destroyed much of Tonnerre, also caused damage to the church, but did not destroy it so that some parts of the church
still date from the 13th and 15th centuries. Most of the church, however, was rebuilt between the end of the 16th and the mid-17th centuries.