The third-century AD Saint Ursinus, also known as Saint Ursin, is considered the first bishop of the city. Bourges is the seat of an archbishopric. During the 8th century Bourges lay on the northern fringes of the Duchy of Aquitaine and was therefore the first town to come under Frankish attacks when the Franks crossed the Loire. The Frankish Charles Martel captured the town in 731, but Duke Odo the Great of Aquitaine immediately re-took it. It remained under the rule of counts who pledged allegiance to the Aquitanian dukes up to the destructive assault by Pepin the Short on independent Aquitaine starting in 760, when Basque troops are found defending the town along with its count.
The Gothic Cathedral of Saint Etienne, begun at the end of the twelfth century, ranks as a World Heritage Site. It is considered the earliest example of the High Gothic style of the thirteenth century.
During the Middle Ages, Bourges served as the capital of the Viscounty of Bourges until 1101. In the fourteenth century it became the capital of the Duchy of Berry. The future king of France, Charles VII (reigned 1422-1461), sought refuge there in the 1420s during the Hundred Years' War. His son, Louis XI, was born there in 1423. In 1438, Charles VII decreed the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. During this period, Bourges was also a major capital of alchemy.
The city has a long tradition of art and history. Apart from the cathedral, other sites of importance include the 15th-century Palace of Jacques Cœur and a sixty-five-hectare district of