County of Nice

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County of Nice
Countèa de Nissa  (Provençal)
Contea di Nizza  (Italian)
Comté de Nice  (French)
Comitatus Nicaeensis  (Medieval Latin)
Comte de Nice flag.svg
Arms of Nice.svg
Coat of arms
County of Nice.png
The county inside modern France
Capital Nice
Common languages Niçard, Ligurian, Italian, French
Roman Catholic
 independent republic of Ligurian league
 part of County of Provence
 independent republic of Ligurian league
 part of County of Savoy
 part of Duchy of Savoy
 part of Kingdom of Sardinia
 part of Kingdom of Sardinia
 French annexation, arrondissement of Nice
Currency Piedmontese scudo (to 1816)
French franc (1800–1814)
Sardinian lira (1816–1848)
Today part of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur,

The County of Nice (French : Comté de Nice / Pays Niçois, Italian : Contea di Nizza/Paese Nizzardo, Niçard Occitan : Countèa de Nissa/Paìs Nissart) is a historical region of France located around the southeastern city of Nice and roughly equivalent to the modern arrondissement of Nice.



The County of Nice was annexed by France in 1792, western part and 1860, eastern part. Italy 1796.svg
The County of Nice was annexed by France in 1792, western part and 1860, eastern part.

Its territory lies between the Mediterranean Sea (Côte d'Azur), Var River and the southernmost crest of the Alps.

Ligurian tribes populated the County of Nice prior to its occupation by the Romans. These tribes, conquered by Augustus, had become fully Romanized (according to Theodore Mommsen) by the 4th century, when the barbarian invasions began. In those Roman centuries, the area was part of the Regio IX Liguria of Italy.

The Franks conquered the region after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, and the local Romance populations became integrated within the County of Provence, with a period of independence as a maritime republic (1108–1176). It was initially a semi-autonomous part of the ancient County of Provence.

Part of Savoy

In 1388, the citizens of Nice decided to hand over the city and its surrounding areas to the count of Savoy. Within Savoy, the region was initially named Terres neuves de Provence. The region received the name County of Nice around 1500, after its integration into the Piedmontese state. County is meant here as an administrative unit rather than as a medieval fief. From 1388 to 1860, the history of the County of Nice was tied to that of Savoy and then Piedmont-Sardinia. Its historical capital city is Nice.

Annexation to France

A map of the County of Nice showing the area of the Kingdom of Sardinia annexed in 1860 to France (light brown). The red area around Grasse was already part of France since 1792 County of nice.svg
A map of the County of Nice showing the area of the Kingdom of Sardinia annexed in 1860 to France (light brown). The red area around Grasse was already part of France since 1792
French annexation in 1860 (black) Italia 1843-en.svg
French annexation in 1860 (black)

France annexed the eastern part of County of Nice in 1860 (western part around Grasse already being annexed in 1792), during the Italian Wars of Independence. By an 1858 secret agreement concluded at Plombières between Napoleon III of France and Sardinian Prime Minister Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, France agreed to support Piedmont in a war against Austria in order to wrest the provinces of Lombardy and Venetia from Austrian rule. In exchange for French military assistance, Piedmont was to cede remaining part of the County of Nice and the Duchy of Savoy to France. The annexation was temporarily put in doubt after the Italian war of 1859, during which Napoleon III concluded a separate peace with Austria before Venetia could be captured.

In March 1860, however, as Piedmont was in the process of annexing Parma, Modena and the Marches, Napoleon III agreed to sanction Piedmont's Italian acquisitions in exchange for Nice and Duchy of Savoy. France annexed the provinces by the provisions of the Treaty of Turin, signed on 24 March 1860. There followed a deeply flawed plebiscites in Nice on 15 and 16 April and in Savoy on 22 and 23 April, in which "apparently and without any doubt" the vast majority of the inhabitants of the two territories voted to approve the treaty and join France. France took formal possession of Nice and Savoy on 12 June 1860.

Nevertheless, the Italian nationalist leader Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was born in Nice, strongly opposed the cession of his home city to France, arguing that the County of Nice was essentially Italian and should not be given as a "ransom" to French expansionism.

Though not among the most prized territories coveted by Italian nationalists after 1860, some Italian nationalists considered the County of Nice as part of "Italia irredenta", Italy's "unredeemed territories". During World War II, when Italy occupied parts of Southeastern France, it briefly (between 1940-43) included Nice administratively in the Kingdom of Italy.

Creation of Alpes-Maritimes

As the county was too small to form its own department, the Government of France added it to the arrondissement of Grasse, detached from the neighbouring Var department, to create the Alpes-Maritimes department. Since 1860, the county has been largely coterminous with the arrondissement of Nice, one of two arrondissements of the Alpes-Maritimes, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. Nevertheless, the term County of Nice (Countea de Nissa in Niçard dialect) continues in use today to identify the territory as a distinct cultural and historical region, particularly to distinguish it from neighbouring Provence.

The historical language used by inhabitants of the County of Nice was Niçard, though it has been almost entirely supplanted by French since 1860. Since 2010, the statue Neuf Lignes Obliques on the Promenade des Anglais commemorates the 150th year of Nice's annexation.

See also


Coordinates: 43°42′N7°16′E / 43.70°N 7.27°E / 43.70; 7.27

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