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France was organized into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the department (French: département) system superseded provinces. The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England. They came into their final form over the course of many hundreds of years, as many dozens of semi-independent fiefs and former independent countries came to be incorporated into the French royal domain. Because of the haphazard manner in which the provinces evolved, each had its own sets of feudal traditions, laws, taxation systems, courts, etc., and the system represented an impediment to effective administration of the entire country from Paris. During the early years of the French Revolution, in an attempt to centralize the administration of the whole country, and to remove the influence of the French nobility over the country, the entirety of the province system was abolished and replaced by the system of departments in use today.
In some cases, several modern regions or departments share names with the historic provinces, and their borders may cover roughly the same territory.
The list below shows the major provinces of France at the time of their dissolution during the French Revolution. Capital cities are shown in parentheses. Bold indicates a city that was also the seat of a judicial and quasi-legislative body called either a parlement (not to be confused with a parliament) or a conseil souverain (sovereign council). In some cases, this body met in a different city from the capital.
Areas that were not part of the Kingdom of France, though they are currently parts of Metropolitan France:
Partial display of historical provincial arms:
|Alençon||15. Anjou||28. Artois||2. Berry||13. Burgundy||20. Brittany||8.Champagne||7. Dauphiné||24. Foix|
|12. Gascony||Gévaudan||32. Lorraine||21. Maine||19. Marche||4. Normandy||37. Savoy||22. Touraine||Valois|
In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-five departments are in metropolitan France, and five are overseas departments, which are also classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; the last two have no autonomy, and are used for the organisation of police, fire departments, and sometimes, elections.
An independent city or independent town is a city or town that does not form part of another general-purpose local government entity.
Languedoc is a former province of France. Its territory is now contained in the modern-day region of Occitanie in the south of France. Its capital city was Toulouse. It had an area of approximately 42,700 square kilometers.
Midi-Pyrénées is a former administrative region of France. Since 1 January 2016, it has been part of the new region Occitanie. It was the largest region of Metropolitan France by area, larger than the Netherlands or Denmark.
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is one of the 18 administrative regions of France, the far southeastern on the mainland. Its capital is Marseille. The region is roughly coterminous with the former French province of Provence, with the addition of the following adjacent areas: the former papal territory of Avignon, known as Comtat Venaissin; the former Sardinian-Piedmontese county of Nice, whose coastline is known in English as the French Riviera, and in French as the Côte d'Azur; and the southeastern part of the former French province of Dauphiné, in the French Alps. Previously known by the acronym PACA, the region adopted the name Région Sud as a commercial name or nickname in December 2017. 4,935,576 people live in the region according to the 2012 census.
Foix is a commune, the former capital of the County of Foix. Today it is the Préfecture of the Ariège department in southwestern France in the Occitanie region. It is the second least populous administrative centre of a department in all of France, the least-populous being Privas. Foix lies south of Toulouse, close to the border with Spain and Andorra. At the 2009 census, the city had a population of 9,861 people. It is only the second city of the department after Pamiers which is one of the two sub-prefectures. Foix is twinned with the English cathedral city of Ripon.
The County of Bar was a principality of the Holy Roman Empire encompassing the pays de Barrois and centred on the city of Bar-le-Duc. It was held by the House of Montbéliard from the 11th century. Part of the county, the so-called Barrois mouvant, became a fief of the Kingdom of France in 1301 and was elevated to the Duchy of Bar in 1354. The Barrois non-mouvant remained a part of the Empire. From 1480, it was united to the imperial Duchy of Lorraine.
Lower Navarre is a traditional region of the present-day French département of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. It corresponds to the northernmost merindad of the Kingdom of Navarre during the Middle Ages. After the Spanish conquest of Iberian Navarre (1512–24), this merindad was restored to the rule of the native king, Henry II. Its capitals were Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Saint-Palais. In the extreme north there was the little sovereign Principality of Bidache, with an area of 1,284 km2 (496 sq mi) and a decreasing population of 44,450, 25,356.
A territorial collectivity is a chartered subdivision of France, with recognized governing authority. It is the generic name for any subdivision with an elective form of local government and local regulatory authority. The nature of a French territorial collectivity is set forth in Article 72 of the French constitution of 1958, which provides for local autonomy within limits prescribed by law.
The Kingdom of France in the early modern period, from the Renaissance to the Revolution (1789–1804), was a monarchy ruled by the House of Bourbon. This corresponds to the so-called Ancien Régime. The territory of France during this period increased until it included essentially the extent of the modern country, and it also included the territories of the first French colonial empire overseas.
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.
Nébouzan was a small province of France located in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains, in the southwest of France. It was not a contiguous province, but it was made up of several detached territories, approximately half of them around the town of Saint-Gaudens in the south of the present-day département of Haute-Garonne, and the other half around the town of Lannemezan in the east of the present-day département of Hautes-Pyrénées. The capital of Nébouzan was Saint-Gaudens.
The Ancien Régime was the political and social system of the Kingdom of France from the Late Middle Ages until 1789, when hereditary monarchy and the feudal system of French nobility were abolished by the French Revolution. The Ancien Régime was ruled by the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties. The term is occasionally used to refer to the similar feudal systems of the time elsewhere in Europe. The administrative and social structures of the Ancien Régime were the result of years of state-building, legislative acts, internal conflicts, and civil wars, but they remained and the Valois Dynasty's attempts at re-establishing control over the scattered political centres of the country were hindered by the Huguenot Wars. Much of the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XIII and the early years of Louis XIV were focused on administrative centralization. Despite, however, the notion of absolute monarchy and the efforts by the kings to create a centralized state, the Kingdom of France retained its irregularities: authority regularly overlapped and nobles struggled to retain autonomy.
The Secretary of State was the name of several official governmental positions – supervising war, foreign affairs, the navy, the king's household, the clergy, Paris, and Protestant affairs – during the Ancien Régime in France, roughly equivalent to the positions of governmental ministers today. The positions were created in 1547, but gained in importance only after 1588. The various secretaries of state were considered part of the Great Officers of the Crown of France.
The County of Nice is a historical region of France located around the south-eastern city of Nice, and roughly equivalent to the modern arrondissement of Nice.
The Council of Paris is the deliberative body responsible for the governing of Paris, the capital of France. It possesses simultaneously the powers of a Paris Municipal Council and those of a General Council for the Département de Paris, as defined by the so-called PLM Law of 1982 that redefined the governance of Paris, Lyon, and Marseilles. Paris is, in effect, the only territorial collectivity in France to be, at one time, a commune and a département, and this arrangement has been a fact even longer, since the passage of the law of 10 July 1964 which totally reorganized the Paris region.
This article describes the process by which the territorial extent of metropolitan France came to be as it is since 1947. The territory of the French State is spread throughout the world. Metropolitan France is that part which is in Europe.
The Protestant Reformed Church of Alsace and Lorraine is a Reformed denomination in Alsace and Northeastern Lorraine, France. As a church body it enjoys the status as an établissement public du culte.
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, sometimes abbreviated BFC, is a region in the east of France created by the territorial reform of French Regions in 2014, from a merger of Burgundy and Franche-Comté. The new region came into existence on 1 January 2016, after the regional elections of December 2015, electing 100 members to the regional council of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.