Brioude, a town of central France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Haute-Loire, on the left bank of the Allier, 1467 ft. above the sea, 47 m. N.W. of Le Puy on the Paris-Lyon railway. Pop. (1906) 4581. Brioude has to a great extent escaped modernization and still has many old houses and fountains. Its streets are narrow and irregular, but the town is surrounded by wide boulevards lined with trees. The only building of consequence is the church of St Julian (12th and 13th centuries) in the Romanesque style of Auvergne, of which the choir, with its apse and radiating chapels and the mosaic ornamentation of the exterior, is a fine example. Brioude is the seat of a sub-prefect, and of tribunals of first instance and of commerce. The plain in which it is situated is of great fertility; the grain trade of the town is considerable, and market-gardening is carried on in the outskirts. The industries include brewing, saw-milling, lace-making and antimony mining and founding.
Brioude, the ancient Brinas, was formerly a place of considerable importance. It was in turn besieged and captured by the Goths (532), the Burgundians, the Saracens (732) and the Normans. In 1181 the viscount of Polignac, who had sacked the town two years previously, made public apology in front of the church, and established a body of twenty-five knights to defend the relics of St Julian. For some time after 1361 the town was the headquarters of Bérenger, lord of Castelnau, who was at the head of one of the bands of military adventurers which then devastated France. The knights (or canons, as they afterwards became) of St Julian bore the title of counts of Brioude, and for a long time opposed themselves to the civic liberties of the inhabitants.