Provence

In the sixth century BC, Phocean Greek merchant-explorers established a trading post and colony at a natural harbor called Massalia. They traded with the Celts and Ligurians of the hinterland and later with the burgeoning city of Rome and its dependencies. Following a war with local tribes in the second century BC, Roman settlements began to take hold in the region. In 49 BC, Massalioites sided with Pompey against Julius Caesar, and in retaliaton Caesar captured the city and stripped it of its colonies, making it part of Rome. Christianity would follow Roman rule in the first century AD.

As Roman power waned in the fifth century, the region was overrun by successive waves of barbarian invaders, including the Visigoths, Burgondes, and Ostrogoths; Berber and Arab pirates followed soon after. The Burgondes established control over the area, but this was lost to the Franks in 536 and Provence was incorporated into the Merovingian and Carolingian empires. After the death of Charles the Bald in 879, Provence became an independent county.

During the ninth century, Normans raided Provence and Saracens from Iberia invaded the province, establishing strongholds to control the region, but they were thrown out by a rebellion in 973. By the eleventh century Provence was a fiefdom of the Holy Roman Empire, and would remain so for the next two hundred years.

The county of Provence became the prize in a series of feudal conflicts between the counts of Barcelona, the kings of Burgundy, the Empire, and the Angevin rulers of France and Naples. By the end of the thirteenth century, the county of Provence was part of the kingdom of Naples. A portion of the county was stripped away to form the county of Nizza (Nice) during this period.

Beginning in the 15th century, war broke out between the kings of Naples and Aragon; the king of Naples, René I, was forced to flee to Provence where he would remain for the last ten years of his life. He undertook projects aimed at improving the economy of Provence, but he also engaged in a series of fruitless wars with his neighbors. Shortly after his death, the county of Provence passed to King Louis XI of France and became part of the royal domaine in 1486.

A seat of Catholic resistance during the Wars of Religion, the province was among the last to be surrendered by the Catholic League.

The frontier province of Provence is France’s gateway to the Mediterranean and the Levant through its busy port of Marseille and to Italy through the passes of the Alps. It’s a rugged region of mountain ranges, fast moving rivers and steep seaside cliffs, but it enjoys a mild climate relative to the rest of France, supporting olive orchards and vineyards which spread across the dry and brushy slopes.

Cities, Towns, and Villages —

The Landscape —

Provence

Le Ballet de l'Acier Black_Vulmea