Verdun (Anc. Verodunum), a town of Lorraine, France, in the department of Meuse, on the river Meuse, 130 m. E. N. E. of Paris; pop. in 1872, 10,738. The Meuse, which.is navigable here, separates into several streams within the walls, which reunite on leaving the town. It has fine promenades, a cathedral and other churches, an episcopal palace and garden, an ecclesiastical seminary, a public library, and a theatre. The trade is in wine, liqueurs, confectionery, oil, grain, timber, and cattle; and linen and woollen fabrics, leather, etc, are manufactured. It has a strong citadel designed by Vauban, separated from the town by an esplanade, and the enceinte consists of ten fronts. - Verdun was a town of some importance under the Romans. Charlemagne's Frankish empire was divided into three kingdoms by the treaty of Verdun in August, 843. The Verdunois territory belonged to the dukes of Lorraine, who governed it through local counts. Baldwin, the brother of Godfrey of Bouillon, sold it to the bishop of Verdun, who gave it in fief for some time as a viscounty to the count of Moncon and Bar. Verdun early became a free imperial city of the German empire; but the bishops claimed absolute authority, and the numerous conflicts resulted in 1552 in French domination, which the Westphalian treaty sanctioned.
The royalists surrendered the town to the Prussians, Sept. 2, 1792, in consequence of which the commander of the citadel (Beauregard) shot himself, and subsequently many of the former were executed by the republican authorities. In the war of 1870 Verdun surrendered after a siege of about a month, Nov. 8. Many officers and much artillery and war material fell into the hands of the Germans. Verdun was substituted for Belfort as a pledge to the Germans until the final payment of the war indemnity in 1873.