Mans, Le lə mäN [key], city (1990 pop. 148,465), capital of Sarthe dept., NW France, on the Sarthe River. The historical capital of Maine, it is also an important manufacturing, commercial, educational, and communications center. Its service industries, especially insurance, are important. Le Mans, which dates from pre-Roman times and before Charlemagne was a Merovingian capital, has witnessed frequent sieges and battles throughout its history. The Cathedral of St. Julien du Mans (11th–13th cent.), which contains the tomb of Berengaria, queen of Richard Cœur de Lion (Richard I of England), is partly Romanesque; its Gothic part has perhaps the most daring system of flying buttresses of any Gothic cathedral. Le Mans was the birthplace of Henry II of England and John II of France. Today, Le Mans is famous for its annual international auto race, which is run on local roads.
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