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Gascony ( // ; French : Gascogne [ɡaskɔɲ] ; Gascon: Gasconha [ɡasˈkuɲɔ] ; Basque : Gaskoinia) was a province of southwestern France that was part of the "Province of Guyenne and Gascony" prior to the French Revolution. The region is vaguely defined, and the distinction between Guyenne and Gascony is unclear; by some they are seen to overlap, while others consider Gascony a part of Guyenne. Most definitions put Gascony east and south of Bordeaux.
It is currently divided between the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine (departments of Landes, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, southwestern Gironde, and southern Lot-et-Garonne) and the region of Occitanie (departments of Gers, Hautes-Pyrénées, southwestern Tarn-et-Garonne, and western Haute-Garonne).
Gascony was historically inhabited by Basque-related people who appear to have spoken a language similar to Basque. The name Gascony comes from the same root as the word Basque (see Wasconia below). From the Middle Ages until today, the Gascon language has been spoken, although it is classified as a regional variant of the Occitan language.
Gascony is the land of d'Artagnan, who inspired Alexandre Dumas's character d'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers, as well as the land of Cyrano de Bergerac, who inspired the play of the same name by Edmond Rostand. It is also home to Henry III of Navarre, who later became king of France as Henry IV.
In pre-Roman times, the inhabitants of Gascony were the Aquitanians (Latin : Aquitani), who spoke a non-Indo-European language related to modern Basque.
The Aquitanians inhabited a territory limited to the north and east by the Garonne River, to the south by the Pyrenees mountain range, and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean. The Romans called this territory Aquitania, either from the Latin word aqua (meaning "water"), in reference to the many rivers flowing from the Pyrenees through the area, or from the name of the Aquitanian Ausci tribe, in which case Aquitania would mean "land of the Ausci".
In the 50s BC, Aquitania was conquered by lieutenants of Julius Caesar and became part of the Roman Empire.
Later, in 27 BC, during the reign of Emperor Augustus, the province of Gallia Aquitania was created. Gallia Aquitania was far larger than the original Aquitania, as it extended north of the Garonne River, in fact all the way north to the Loire River, thus including the Celtic Gauls that inhabited the regions between the Garonne and the Loire rivers.
In 297, as Emperor Diocletian reformed the administrative structures of the Roman Empire, Aquitania was split into three provinces. The territory south of the Garonne River, corresponding to the original Aquitania, was made a province called Novempopulania (that is, "land of the nine tribes"), while the part of Gallia Aquitania north of the Garonne became the province of Aquitanica I and the province of Aquitanica II. The territory of Novempopulania corresponded quite well to what we call now Gascony.
The Aquitania Novempopulana or Novempopulania suffered like the rest of the Western Roman Empire from the invasions of Germanic tribes, most notably the Vandals in 407–409. In 416–418, Novempopulania was delivered to the Visigoths as their federate settlement lands and became part of the Visigoth kingdom of Toulouse, while other than the region of the Garonne river their actual grip on the area may have been rather loose.
The Visigoths were defeated by the Franks in 507, and fled into Spain and Septimania. Novempopulania then became part of the Frankish Kingdom like the rest of southern France. However, Novempopulania was far away from the home base of the Franks in northern France, and was only very loosely controlled by the Franks. During all the troubled and historically obscure period, starting from early 5th-century accounts, the bagaudae are often cited, social uprisings against tax exaction and feudalization, largely associated to Vasconic unrest.
Old historical literature[ example needed ] sometimes[ when? ] claims the Basques took control of the whole of Novempopulania in the Early Middle Ages, founding its claims on the testimony of Gregory of Tours, on the etymological link between the words "Basque" and "Gascon" – both derived from "Vascones" or "Wasconia", the latter being used to name the whole of Novempopulania.
Modern historians reject this hypothesis, which is sustained by no archeological evidence. For Juan José Larrea, and Pierre Bonnassie, "a Vascon expansionism in Aquitany is not proved and is not necessary to understand the historical evolution of this region".This Basque-related culture and race is, whatever the origin, attested in (mainly Carolingian) Medieval documents, while their exact boundaries remain unclear ("Wascones, qui trans Garonnam et circa Pirineum montem habitant" -- "Wascones, who live across the Garonne and around the Pyrenees mountains", as stated in the Royal Frankish Annals, for one).
The word Vasconia[ citation needed ] (w often evolved into g under the influence of Romance languages; cf. warranty and guarantee, warden and guardian, wile and guile, William and Guillaume). The gradual abandonment of the Basque-related Aquitanian language in favor of a local Vulgar Latin was not reversed. The replacing local Vulgar Latin evolved into Gascon. [ citation needed ] (for example, Latin f became h; cf. Latin fortia, French force, Spanish fuerza, Occitan fòrça, but Gascon hòrça). [ citation needed ]
Meanwhile, Viking raiders conquered several Gascon towns, among them Bayonne in 842–844. Their attacks in Gascony may have helped the political disintegration of the Duchy until their defeat against William II Sánchez of Gascony in 982. In turn, the weakened ethnic polity known as Duchy of Wasconia/Wascones, unable to get round the general spread of feudalization, gave way to a myriad of counties founded by Gascon lords.
His 1152 marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine allowed the future Henry II to gain control of his new wife's possessions of Aquitaine and Gascony. This addition to his already plentiful holdings made Henry the most powerful vassal in France.
In 1248, Simon de Montfort was appointed Governor in the unsettled Duchy of Gascony. Bitter complaints were excited by de Montfort's rigour in suppressing the excesses of both the seigneurs of the nobility and the contending factions in the great communes. Henry III yielded to the outcry and instituted a formal inquiry into Simon's administration. Simon was formally acquitted of the charges, but in August 1252 he was nevertheless dismissed. Henry then himself went to Gascony, pursuing a policy of conciliation; he arranged the marriage between Edward, his 14-year-old son, and Eleanor of Castile, daughter of Alfonso X. Alfonso renounced all claims to Gascony and assisted the Plantagenets against rebels such as Gaston de Bearn, who had taken control of the Pyrenees.
In December 1259, Louis IX of France ceded to Henry land north and east of Gascony.In return, Henry renounced his claim to many of the territories that had been lost by King John.
In May 1286, King Edward I paid homage before the new king, Philip IV of France, for the lands in Gascony. However, in May 1294, Philip confiscated the lands. Between 1294 and 1298, Edward sent three expeditionary forces to recover Gascony, but Philip was able to retain most of the territory until the Treaty of Paris in 1303.
In 1324 when Edward II of England, in his capacity as Duke of Aquitaine, failed to pay homage to the French king after a dispute, Charles IV declared the duchy forfeit at the end of June 1324, and military action by the French followed. Edward sent his wife Isabella, who was sister to the French king, to negotiate a settlement. The Queen departed for France on 9 March 1325, and in September was joined by her son, the heir to the throne, Prince Edward (later Edward III of England). Isabella's negotiations were successful, and it was agreed that the young Prince Edward would perform homage in the king's place, which he did on 24 September and so the duchy was returned to the English crown.
When France's Charles IV died in 1328 leaving only daughters, his nearest male relative was Edward III of England, the son of Isabella, the sister of the dead king; but the question arose whether she could legally transmit the inheritance of the throne of France to her son even though she herself, as a woman, could not inherit the throne. The assemblies of the French barons and prelates and the University of Paris decided that males who derive their right to inheritance through their mother should be excluded. Thus the nearest heir through male ancestry was Charles IV's first cousin, Philip, Count of Valois, and it was decided that he should be crowned Philip VI of France. Philip believed that Edward III was in breach of his obligations as vassal, so in May 1337 he met with his Great Council in Paris. It was agreed that Gascony should be taken back into Philip's hands, thus precipitating the Hundred Years War between England and France.At the end of the Hundred Years' War, after Gascony had changed hands several times, the English were finally defeated at the Battle of Castillon on 17 July 1453; Gascony remained French from then on.
The Saltire, lo Sautèr
|Names||Union Gascona, Flag of Gascony|
The Gascony does not have any institutional unity since the 11th century, hence several flag versions are currently used on the territory.
The Saltire, sometimes called "Union Gascona" (Gascon Union) is a white Saint-Andrew's cross on a red background. Some say that it was originally given by Pope Clement III at the time of the Third Crusade but there has been no evidence of that assumption yet.
It is often said that the text of the chronicler Roger of Howden mentioned that Pope Clement III gave crosses to the kings of France and England (Richard I of England as well duke of Aquitania and Gascony) during the Gisors conference in 1188 and that these kings then assigned flags, with the cross on it, to their respective nations. The following text ("The French flags" on the website Heraldica, accessed 04-22-2010) is about this event: The kings of France and England were in a peace conference in a field between Gisors and Trie, in January 1188, when the archbishop of Tyre arrived with the news of the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladdin, and an urgent plea for a new crusade. The event is told by the contemporary chronicler Roger de Hoveden (R. de Houedene, Chronica, ed. William Stubbs, vol. 2, London, 1869, p. 335). At this conference came the archbishop of Tyre, who [...] moved their hearts to taking the cross. And those who were enemies before, by his predication and God’s help, became friends that day, and received the cross from his hand ; and in that moment the sign of the cross appeared above them in the sky. On seeing that miracle, many rushed in droves to take the cross. And said kings, when taking the cross, chose a visible sign for themselves and their people to identify their nation. The king of France and his people took red crosses ; the king of England with his people took white crosses ; and Philip count of Flanders with his people took green crosses ; and thus everyone returned home to provide for the needs of his journey. [… ad cognoscendam gentem suam signum evidens sibi et suis providerunt, ... et sic unusquisque ...]
The original text of Howden stops here. What comes next is an addition from F. Velde: "It is often said that the system was extended to other regions or nations : Brittany’s cross was black, Lorraine green, Italy and Sweden yellow, Burgundy a red Saint Andrew’s, Gascony a white Saint Andrew’s."
Thus we cannot confirm that the gascon saltire comes from the Crusades or even the Middle Ages. At least was it known at the time when F. Velde wrote this article. As Saint Andrew is the patron of Bordeaux that could be a hint for its origin.
In the tome 14 of the Grande Encyclopédie, published in France between 1886 and 1902 by Henri Lamirault, one can read that
" aux temps difficiles de la guerre de Cent ans et des luttes terribles entre les Armagnacs représentant le parti national (croix blanche) et les Bourguignons alliés des Anglais (croix rouge et croix rouge de Saint-André), le drapeau des Anglais victorieux finit par réunir, en 1422, sous Henri VI, sur son champ les croix blanche et rouge de France et d'Angleterre, les croix de Saint-André, blanche et rouge de Guyenne et de Bourgogne. "
(During the hard times of the Hundred Years' War and the terrible struggles between the Armagnacs, representing the national party (white cross) and the Burgundians, allied to the English (red cross and red Saint-Andrews' cross), the flag of the victorious English ends up gathering, in 1422, under Henri VI, on its field the white and red crosses of France and England, the white and red Saint-Andrew's crosses of Guyenne and Burgundy.)
On the website Gasconha.com a message from M. Fourment (12-15-2006) returns to the website svowebmaster.free.fr on which would be written that the Saltire was declared "official flag of Gascony" on 13 January in 1903, but without any other precision, nor source (perhaps was it in the context of the Félibrige that was then developing).
The red and white colors are statistically dominants in the heraldry of the gascon countries. This red and white flag, or Saltire, lo(u) Sautèr, is considered as being the flag of the Gascon people.
Therefore this gascon saltire could have picked up some ancient traditions. Even if it would only be dated from the end of the 19th century of the beginning of the 20th, it follows the rules of vexillology (simplicity, distant readability). It corresponds to the color and the pattern of the talenquères in many bullrings in Gascony.
The Quarterly, l'Esquarterat
However, another flag is used: the Quarterly. It corresponds to the arms of the ancient province of Gascony put in a banner.
This province was smaller than the current Gascony (also called "cultural and linguistic Gascony), it included neither the Béarn nor the gascon part of the Guyenne, but it included the basque provinces of the Labourd and the Soule.
Gascony is limited by the Atlantic Ocean (western limit) and the Pyrenees mountains (southern limit); as the area of Gascon language, it extends to the Garonne (North), and close to the Ariège (river) (East) from the Pyrenees to the confluence of the Garonne with the Ariège. The other most important river is Adour, along with its tributaries Gave de Pau and Gave d'Oloron.
The most important towns are:
Bayonne, Dax and Tarbes are crossed by the Adour. Pau and Lourdes are crossed by the Gave de Pau. Mont-de-Marsan also belongs to the drainage basin of the Adour. The Gers (river), a tributary of the Garonne, flows through Auch.
The main economic activities are:
Aquitaine, archaic Guyenne or Guienne, is an historical region of southwestern France and a former administrative region of the country. Since 1 January 2016 it has been part of the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It is situated in the far southwest corner of Metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It is composed of the five departments of Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes and Gironde. In the Middle Ages, Aquitaine was a kingdom and a duchy, whose boundaries fluctuated considerably.
Guyenne or Guienne was an old French province which corresponded roughly to the Roman province of Aquitania Secunda and the archdiocese of Bordeaux.
Pyrénées-Atlantiques is a department in the southwest corner of France and of the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Named after the Pyrenees mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean, it covers the French Basque Country and the Béarn. Its prefecture is Pau. In 2017, it had a population of 677,309.
Gascon is a Romance language spoken in southwest France. While often described as a dialect of Occitan, Gascon is considered by several authors to be a separate language altogether.
Gallia Aquitania, also known as Aquitaine or Aquitaine Gaul, was a province of the Roman Empire. It lies in present-day southwest France, where it gives its name to the modern region of Aquitaine. It was bordered by the provinces of Gallia Lugdunensis, Gallia Narbonensis, and Hispania Tarraconensis.
The Duchy of Aquitaine was a historical fiefdom in western, central and southern areas of present-day France to the south of the Loire River, although its extent, as well as its name, fluctuated greatly over the centuries, at times comprising much of what is now southwestern France (Gascony) and central France.
The county of Armagnac, situated between the Adour and Garonne rivers in the lower foothills of the Pyrenées, is a historic county of the Duchy of Gascony, established in 601 in Aquitaine. It is a region in southwestern France that includes parts of the Departments of Gers, Landes, and Lot-et-Garonne.
Soule is a former viscounty and French province and part of the present-day Pyrénées-Atlantiques département. It is divided into two cantons of the arrondissement (district) of Oloron-Sainte-Marie, and a part of the canton of Saint Palais.
Labourd is a former French province and part of the present-day Pyrénées Atlantiques département. It is one of the traditional Basque provinces, and identified as one of the territorial component parts of the Basque Country by many, especially by the Basque nationalists.
The Vascones were a pre-Roman tribe who, on the arrival of the Romans in the 1st century, inhabited a territory that spanned between the upper course of the Ebro river and the southern basin of the western Pyrenees, a region that coincides with present-day Navarre, western Aragon and northeastern La Rioja, in the Iberian Peninsula. The Vascones are often considered ancestors of the present-day Basques to whom they left their name.
Bigorre is a region in southwest France, historically an independent county and later a French province, located in the upper watershed of the Adour, on the northern slopes of the Pyrenees, part of the larger region known as Gascony. Today Bigorre comprises the centre and west of the département of Hautes-Pyrénées, with two small exclaves in the neighbouring Pyrénées Atlantiques. Its inhabitants are called Bigourdans.
Couserans is a small former province of France located in the Pyrenees mountains. Today Couserans makes up the western half of the Ariège département, around the towns of Saint-Girons and Saint-Lizier. A small part of Couserans is also in the extreme south of Haute-Garonne, just across the border from Ariège.
The Aquitanian people lived in the area of present-day southern Nouvelle-Aquitaine and southwestern Midi-Pyrénées, France - in the region between the Pyrenees, the Atlantic ocean, and the Garonne, in present-day southwestern France in the 1st century BCE. The Romans, dubbed this region Gallia Aquitania. Classical authors such as Julius Caesar and Strabo clearly distinguish the Aquitani from the other peoples of Gaul, and note their similarity to others in the Iberian Peninsula.
The Aquitanian language was the language of the ancient Aquitani, spoken on both sides of the western Pyrenees in ancient Aquitaine and in the areas south of the Pyrenees in the valleys of the Basque Country before the Roman conquest. It probably survived in Aquitania north of the Pyrenees until the Early Middle Ages.
The French Basque Country, or Northern Basque Country is a region lying on the west of the French department of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Since 1 January 2017, it constitutes the Basque Municipal Community presided over by Jean-René Etchegaray.
Seguin I Lupo was Duke of Gascony from 812 until 816, when Louis the Pious deposed him "because of his boundless arrogance and wicked ways", according to the contemporary Frankish chroniclers. The "Basques across the Garonne and around the Pyrenees" rebelled against the removal of their duke, but the Frankish king received the submission of the rebels in Dax. The emperor crossed the Pyrenees and "settled matters" in Pamplona. This could imply that the Gascony of Seguin's day was trans-Pyrenean, i.e., comprised lands on both sides of the mountains.
The Duchy of Gascony or Duchy of Vasconia was a duchy located in present-day southwestern France and northeastern Spain, an area encompassing the modern region of Gascony. The Duchy of Gascony, then known as Wasconia, was originally a Frankish march formed to hold sway over the Basques (Vascones). However, the Duchy went through different periods, from its early years with its distinctively Basque element to the merger in personal union with the Duchy of Aquitaine to the later period as a dependency of the Plantagenet kings of England.
Novempopulania was one of the provinces created by Diocletian out of Gallia Aquitania, which was also called Aquitania Tertia.
Occitanie, Occitany or Occitania, is the southernmost administrative region of metropolitan France excluding Corsica, created on 1 January 2016 from the former regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. The Council of State approved Occitanie as the new name of the region on 28 September 2016, coming into effect on 30 September 2016.
The Gascon campaign of 1294 to 1303 was a military conflict between English and French forces over the Duchy of Aquitaine, including the Duchy of Gascony. The Duchy of Aquitaine was held in fief by King Edward I of England as a vassal of King Philip IV of France. Starting with a fishing fleet dispute and then naval warfare, the conflict escalated to open warfare between the two countries. In spite of a French military victory on the ground, the war ended when the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1303, which restored the status quo. The war was a premise to future tensions between the two nations culminating in the Hundred Years' War.
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