Tours, France, the capital of the Department of Indre-et-Loire. The city is situated on the Loire River, about 130 miles (209 km) southwest of Paris. Tours is an important transportation and commercial center for the fertile region drained by the Loire. Many beautiful and historically important châteaus are within a short distance of the city.
When the Romans ruled Gaul, Tours was known as Caesarodunum. The city was taken in the fifth century A.D. by the Visigoths and in 507 by Clovis, king of the Franks. In 732 the Franks under Charles Martel defeated the Moors in a battle near Tours, ending the Muslim advance in Europe. After the scholar Alcuin became abbot of St. Martin's Abbey in 796, Tours became a major center of European culture. In 1154 Touraine, the county in which Tours was located, passed to England as part of the inheritance of King Henry II. It was conquered and restored to France in 1204 by the French king Philip II.
A prosperous silk industry was established at Tours in the 15th century. However, the industry, which was largely under Protestant control, was wiped out when the Protestants were driven out of France in the late 17th century. Tours went into an economic decline that lasted until late in the 19th century. For brief periods during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and World War II, Tours served as the temporary French capital.