Provinces of France

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Map of the provinces of France as they appeared in 1789. They were abolished the following year. Vidal-Lablache ndeg9 - Provinces en 1789.jpg
Map of the provinces of France as they appeared in 1789. They were abolished the following year.

Under the Ancien Régime, the Kingdom of France was subdivided in multiple different ways (judicial, military, ecclesiastical, etc.) into several administrative units, until the National Constituent Assembly adopted a more uniform division into departments (départements) and districts in late 1789. The provinces continued to exist administratively until 21 September 1791. [1]

Contents

The country was subdivided ecclesiastically into dioceses, judicially into généralités, militarily into general governments. None of these entities was called "province" by their contemporaries. However, later interpretations confused the term of "general government" (a military division) with that of a cultural province, since the general governments often used the names and borders of a province. It was not always the case, which causes confusion as to the borders of some provinces. [2]

Today, the term "province" is used to name the resulting regional areas, which retain a cultural and linguistic identity.

Borrowed from the institutions of the Roman Empire, the word first appeared in the 15th century and has continued to spread, both in official documents and in popular or common usage. Whatever the century or dictionary consulted, the definition of the word often remains vague, due to the coexistence of several territorial division systems under the Ancien Régime. Some geographers, even some of the most famous, such as Onésime Reclus, have widely criticised the idea of provinces and provincial identity, sometimes denying that the word covers any tangible reality. In fact, the many lists and maps showing the provinces of France are neither perfectly superimposable nor exactly comparable. The fact remains, however, that the names of many of the territorial subdivisions of the Ancien Régime refer to Gallic civitates.

Before the French Revolution, France was made up of territorial divisions resulting from history, geography and settlement, which differed according to the different powers that were exercised there, with different categories such as metropolises, dioceses, duchies, baronies, governments, states, elections, generalities, intendances, parliaments, countries, bailliages, seneschaussées, etc. Each of these categories took the name of a province, without covering the same geographical area. For example, the jurisdiction of the parlement d'Artois did not correspond to the same territory as the gouvernement d'Artois or the intendance d'Artois.

The Constituent Assembly of 1789, having abolished all the rights and customs specific to the different regions (also known as privileges, such as those of the classes, nobility and clergy) during the night of 4 August, decided to establish a uniform division of the territory, the départements, and that this division would be the same for the different functions of the State: military, religious, fiscal, administrative, university, judicial, etc. The town chosen as the capital of each department would have to be the seat of each of these functions, and at the same time have a prefecture, a court, a university, a military post, a bishopric, a stock exchange, a fair, a hospital, etc. The protests of the towns which had always fulfilled one of these functions and which were thus deprived of their court of appeal, their arsenal, their university or their fair, prevented this plan from being completely implemented.[ citation needed ]

In some cases, modern regions share names with the historic provinces; their borders may cover roughly the same territory.

History and preceding divisions

Gallish civitates

It's worth noting that the old Gallic states retained their names, their boundaries and a kind of moral existence in people's memories and affections until very recently. Neither the Romans, nor the Germans, nor feudalism, nor monarchy destroyed these enduring units; they can still be found in the provinces and countries of present-day France.

Fustel de Coulanges, Histoire des institutions politiques de l'ancienne France

Gaul was occupied by fifty-four main peoples and more than a hundred individual peoples (300 according to Flavius Josephus), some with very different customs. Julius Caesar called each of these independent states civitas (city, without the word in this case referring to the idea of town or village), some of which were subdivided into pagi. Many of the smaller Gallic peoples were clients of their neighbors, and therefore dependent on them, sometimes paying them tribute. These confederations, the best-known of which are those of the Arverni, Aedui and Armoricans, formed a kind of province before Roman reorganization.

The Gallic cities, with their territory and the name given to their chief town, became dioceses under the Lower Empire; their status as "mainmorte", having escaped the division of patrimonial domains, explains why they remained almost intact until the end of the Ancien Régime. These divisions were subsequently taken over and partly regrouped to form the generalités, then the départements, but replacing their former ethnic names (e.g. Poitou for the country of Pictons, Auvergne for the country of Arverni, Rouergue for the country of Ruteni, Périgord for country of Pétrocores, etc.) with a physical geographic name (giving respectively the départements of Vienne, Puy-de-Dôme, Aveyron, Dordogne, etc.).

Roman provinces

The Latin etymology of the term provincia gives us an idea of its original meaning: pro vincere, conquered in advance.[ citation needed ] Each of Gaul's Roman provinces had a precise legal definition, clearly defined boundaries and codified administrative structures. The number of provinces, their organization and boundaries varied widely over the course of five centuries, and each was headed by a proconsul or propraetor. In addition to Provincia (Provence), which was already Roman, Caesar divided Gaul into three provinces: Aquitanica, Celtica and Belgica. Over the course of four centuries of Roman control, the number of provinces increased from three to eleven, due to both the expansion of the empire and the reduction in size of the original provinces: 1st and 2nd Germania, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Lugdunensis, 1st and 2nd Aquitanica, 1st and 2nd Belgica, 1st and 2nd Narbonensis, Novempopulanie, Sequanorum, Viennensis, Alpes Cottiarum, Alpes Maritimae, Alpes Graiae et Poeninae. These provinces were subdivided into cities (civitas or civitates in the plural), the number of which rose from 33 to 113.

Ecclesiastical provinces and dioceses

Dioceses in the Kingdom of France in 1789. France Ancien Regime Dioceses 1789.png
Dioceses in the Kingdom of France in 1789.

Metropolises are territories under the jurisdiction of a metropolitan archbishop, also known as provinces because they originate from the Roman provinces administered by the first bishops after the fall of the Roman Empire.

They are made up of the dioceses which, by the same process, succeeded the ancient civitas or romanized Gallic cities, and which almost always retained the name of an ancient Gallic people, also given to the diocesan capital. Dioceses were made up of parishes, groups of inhabitants who could gather in the same church, whose names and boundaries have been preserved in the 36,000 French communes.

Ecclesiastical districts, by virtue of their mainmortal status, are the oldest and most stable territorial circumscriptions, from late antiquity to the general reorganization of 1802. Today, these 130 or so districts are grouped into the 90 départements and their capital cities, although their ethnonyms have been replaced by names related to physical geography: rivers, mountains, coasts.

Judicial provinces: parliaments, bailiwicks, and seneschalties

Parlements in the Kingdom of France in 1789. Parlements Royaume de France couleur (1789).svg
Parlements in the Kingdom of France in 1789.

Depending on their laws, customs and languages, the territory of the kingdom is divided into countries of written law (roughly south of a line from La Rochelle to Geneva) and countries of customary law (north of the same line).

Each of these groups includes several parliaments, which are appeal courts whose jurisdictions form as many judicial provinces, and to which belong all the royal jurisdictions, baillages (bailiwicks) and seneschaussées (seneschalties). They are made up of several countries, each corresponding to a general custom, or even a particular custom corresponding to former vici that have retained local customs. For example, the seneschalty of Quercy is made up of five secondary bailiwicks, corresponding to five former vigueries.

Fiscal provinces: generalities

Generalities in the kingdom of France in 1789. Generalites.svg
Generalities in the kingdom of France in 1789.

Some authors attempt to equate the concept of province with that of generality. The concepts do occasionally coincide, when the extent of a generality more or less overlaps that of an older territorial entity, but they are not synonymous.

Military provinces: general governments

These are the fiefs that depend directly on the crown (duchies, counties and marches) and owe it military aid.

In addition to the Duchy of France, which became part of the royal domain, the first six major fiefs have the title of peerage:

Their holders were considered electors of the King of France, along with six other ecclesiastical peers:

The number of grand fiefs varies with history (inheritances, confiscations, conquests, losses, treaties) and increases with the definitive attachment of the County of Provence, the Duchy of Anjou, the Duchy of Burgundy, the Duchy of Brittany, the Duchy of Lorraine, and so on. Some of these provinces were simply the return to the crown of a former fiefdom, such as the Duchy of Burgundy, which had been held by Hugues Capet's brother. Others, such as the Duchy of Savoy, Corsica, Comtat-Vénessin and the County of Nice, were acquired from the Empire or the Holy See.

Unlike the ecclesiastical provinces, their extent varies over the course of history according to the possessions of their holders, or to political reorganizations. For example, the Duchy of Gascony disappeared in the 11th century, and the Duchy of Normandy was divided into two military governments.

In modern times, the "thirty-six governments" corresponded to the provinces on which all the fiefs and arrière-fiefs depended, providing territorial districts for defense and marshaling, the raising of men-at-arms, the construction of squares, arsenals and castles, judges-at-arms, and therefore also all questions of nobility, armorial bearings, etc.

At the end of the Ancien Régime, not counting overseas territories such as the French islands of America, Pondicherry, Mauritius or New France (a province from 1663 to 1763, when it was ceded to Great Britain and Spain), there were thirty-six regions with a governor in charge of defense, called governments. Each had its own nobility.

Together with the regions attached to France since 1791, these thirty-six governments correspond to what are usually known today as the "former provinces of France".

List of former general governments of France

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.

General governments of France in 1789, superimposed by modern administrative boundaries and the names of current regions 1789 + 2022 France, noms des regions.png
General governments of France in 1789, superimposed by modern administrative boundaries and the names of current regions
Provinces of France in 1789 relative to the modern borders of France
Note: The Comtat Venaissin (annexed 1791), Mulhouse (annexed 1798), Montbeliard (annexed 1816), Savoy and Nice (annexed 1860), as well as small portions of other provinces were not part of the Kingdom of France. Provinces of France (numered).svg
Provinces of France in 1789 relative to the modern borders of France
Note: The Comtat Venaissin (annexed 1791), Mulhouse (annexed 1798), Montbéliard (annexed 1816), Savoy and Nice (annexed 1860), as well as small portions of other provinces were not part of the Kingdom of France.
  1. Île-de-France ( Paris )
  2. Berry (Bourges) [3]
  3. Orléanais (Orléans) [4]
  4. Normandy ( Rouen ) [5]
  5. Languedoc ( Toulouse ) [6]
  6. Lyonnais (Lyon)
  7. Dauphiné ( Grenoble ) [7]
  8. Champagne (Troyes) [8]
  9. Aunis (La Rochelle)
  10. Saintonge (Saintes) [9]
  11. Poitou (Poitiers) [10]
  12. Guyenne and Gascony ( Bordeaux ) [11]
  13. Burgundy ( Dijon ) [12]
  14. Picardy (Amiens) [13]
  15. Anjou (Angers)
  16. Provence ( Aix-en-Provence ) [14]
  17. Angoumois (Angoulême) [15]
  18. Bourbonnais (Moulins)
  19. Marche (Guéret) [16]
  20. Brittany ( Rennes ) [17]
  21. Maine and Perche (Le Mans) [18]
  22. Touraine (Tours) [19]
  23. Limousin (Limoges) [20]
  24. Foix (Foix)
  25. Auvergne (Clermont-Ferrand) [21]
  26. Béarn ( Pau )
  27. Alsace (Strasbourg, conseils souverains in Colmar ) [22]
  28. Artois (Arras) [23]
  29. Roussillon ( Perpignan ) [24]
  30. Flanders and Hainaut (Lille, conseils souverains in Douai )
  31. Franche-Comté ( Besançon ) [25]
  32. Lorraine and Barrois ( Nancy ); Trois-Évêchés (Three Bishoprics within Lorraine): Metz , Toul and Verdun [26]
  33. Corsica (Ajaccio, conseils souverains in Bastia )
  34. Nivernais (Nevers) [27]

Areas that were not part of the Kingdom of France, though they are currently parts of Metropolitan France:

Arms

Partial display of historical provincial arms:

Alençon 15. Anjou 28. Artois 2. Berry 13. Burgundy 20. Brittany 8.Champagne 7. Dauphiné 24. Foix
Arms of Pierre dAlencon.svg Arms of Jean dAnjou.svg Arms of Robert dArtois.svg Arms of Charles de Berry.svg Arms of the Duke of Burgundy (1364-1404).svg BlasonBretagne.svg Arms of the French Region of Champagne-Ardenne.svg Arms of the Dauphin of France.svg Arms of the Counts of Foix.svg
12. Gascony Gévaudan 5. Languedoc 32. Lorraine 21. Maine 19. Marche 4. Normandy 37. Savoy 22. Touraine Valois
Blason province fr Gascogne.svg Blason province fr Gevaudan.svg Arms of Languedoc.svg BlasonLorraine.svg Blason du Maine.svg Arms of Jacques Ier de Bourbon-La Marche.svg Arms of William the Conqueror (1066-1087).svg Arms of the House of Savoy.svg Arms of Philip II of Burgundy and the Count of Touraine.svg Arms of Philippe de Valois.svg

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References

  1. Legay, Marie-Laure (2003). "La fin du pouvoir provincial (4 août 1789-21 septembre 1791)". Annales historiques de la Révolution française (332): 25–53. doi: 10.4000/ahrf.821 . ISSN   0003-4436.
  2. texte, Société historique de Haute-Picardie (1944- ) Auteur du; texte, Société historique de Haute-Picardie (1914-1944) Auteur du (1922). "Bulletin de la Société historique de Haute-Picardie". Gallica (in French). Retrieved 2023-10-01. L'« ancienne » France n'a jamais connu trente-deux provinces. Au point de vue administratif, elle était divisée en généralités, portant tantôt le nom de leur capitale, tantôt celui d'une province ; au point de vue militaire, en gouvernements généraux, prenant tous le nom d'une province. Mais toutes ces circonscriptions avaient un caractère arbitraire ; leurs délimitations variaient suivant les besoins de chaque siècle. Officiellement il n'y avait pas de provinces tout au moins jusqu'à la grande réforme de 1787, qui accorda aux généralités qui en étaient dépourvues le droit d'élire des assemblées délibérantes. Elles prirent le titre de province. C'est ainsi que pendant trois ans la généralité de Soissons, composée artificiellement, deux siècles en çà, des élections de Soissons, Laon, Guise, Noyon, Crépy-en-Valois, Clermont et Château - Thierry, s'appela la province du Soissonnais. Les cartes officielles, auxquelles il est fait allusion plus haut, paraissent ignorer cette grande révolution pacifique, comme la plupart des manuels d'histoire du reste. Trompées par la similitude de noms, sous la rubrique de provinces, elles nous donnent les limites des gouvernements militaires. Sans doute province et gouvernement voyaient généralement leurs limites se confondre ; mais au cours des temps, des modifications sont survenues.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Berry". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 809.
  4. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Orléanais". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 281.
  5. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Normandy". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 749.
  6. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Languedoc". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 179.
  7. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Dauphiné". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 851.
  8. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Champagne". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 829.
  9. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Saintonge". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 34.
  10. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Poitou". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 899.
  11. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gascony". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 494–495.
  12. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Burgundy". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 821.
  13. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Picardy". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 576.
  14. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Provence". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 503.
  15. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Angoumois". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 42.
  16. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Marche (France)". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 689–690.
  17. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Brittany". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 617.
  18. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Maine (province)". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 433.
  19. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Touraine". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 102–103.
  20. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Limousin". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 701.
  21. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Auvergne". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 49.
  22. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Alsace". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 755.
  23. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Artois". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 698.
  24. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Roussillon". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 780.
  25. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Franche-Comté". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 931.
  26. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lorraine". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 9.
  27. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Nièvre". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 673.

Further reading

See also