Tuesday, 8 December 2009

History of Narbonne

Narbonne (Narbona in Catalan and in Occitan, commonly Narbo especially when referring to the Ancient Rome era) is a town and commune of southwestern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon région. It lies 849 km from Paris in the Aude département, of which it is a sous-préfecture. Once a prosperous port, it is now located about 15 km from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It is marginally the largest commune in the Aude département, although the préfecture (capital) resides in the slightly smaller commune of Carcassonne.

Narbonne is linked to the nearby Canal du Midi and the Aude River by the Canal de la Robine, which runs through the centre of town.

Cathedral in Narbonne

Narbonne was established in Gaul in 118 BC, as Colonia Narbo Martius. It was located on
the Via Domitia, the first Roman road in Gaul, built at the time of the foundation of the colony, and connecting Italy to Spain. Geographically, Narbonne was therefore located at a very important crossroads because it was situated where the Via Domitia connected to the Via Aquitania, which led toward the Atlantic across Toulouse and Bordeaux. In addition, it was crossed by the Aude River.

Politically, Narbonne gained importance as a competitor to Marseille. Julius Caesar settled veterans from his 10th legion there and attempted to develop its port while Marseille was revolting against Roman control.

Later, the provincia of southern Gaul was named "Gallia Narbonensis", after the city, and Narbonne was made its capital. Seat of a powerful administration, the city enjoyed economic and architectural expansion.

It was subsequently the capital of the Visigothic province of Septimania. It was part of the Emirate of Cordoba until conquered by the Franks after which it became part of the Carolingian Viscounty of Narbonne. In the 12th century, the court of Ermengarde of Narbonne (reigned 1134 to 1192) presided over one of the cultural centers where the spirit of courtly love was developed.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, Narbonne was home to an important Jewish exegetical school, which played a pivotal role in the growth and development of the Zarphatic (Judæo-French) and Shuadit (Judæo-Provençal) languages. Jews had settled in Narbonne from about the 5th century, with a community that had risen to approximately 2000 in the 12th century. At this time, Narbonne was frequently mentioned in Talmudic works in connection with its scholars. One source, Abraham ibn Daud of Toledo, gives them an importance similar to the exilarchs of Babylon[1]. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the community went through a series of ups and downs before settling into extended decline.

Narbonne itself fell into slow decline in the 14th century, for a variety of reasons. The decline was due to a change in the course of the Aude River causing increasing silting of the navigational access. The Aude river had a long history of overflowing its banks. When it was a port the distance from the coast was around 20 to 30 kilometres - but the access to the sea was deep enough. Over time as the Aude river fluctuated in flow, direction and sediment, and as the Mediterranean sea level slowly rose the 'sea port' aspect of Narbonne declined due to relentless silting, and could thus no longer serve directly as a port.

From the 16th century, anxious to maintain a link to important trade, the people of Narbonne began costly work to the vestiges of the Aude River's access to the sea so that it would remain navigable to a limited draft of vessel and also a link with the Royal Canal. The major undertaking of works finished with the construction of the Canal de la Robine, which was finally linked with the Canal du Midi (then the Royal Canal) in 1787. In the 19th century, the canal system in the south of France came into competition with an expanding rail network but kept some importance due to the flourishing wine trade.

Hence, despite its decline from Roman times, Narbonne managed to hold on to a more limited importance as a trading route, particularly through the more recent centuries.

Cathedral in Narbonne
Saint-Just cathedral dating from 1272
The "Palais des Archevêques" or Archbishop's Palace and its "donjon" with views over Narbonne
Musee Archeologique - an archaeological museum in the town centre
The Roman Horreum, a former grain warehouse, built underground as a cryptoporticus
Remains of the Via Domitia in the city center
The canal, "Canal de la Robine", running through the centre of the town
The Halles de Narbonne covered market operates every day. The busiest times are Sunday and Thursday mornings.
The nearby limestone massif known as "La Clape" and the beach at Narbonne plage
Narbonne's union team, Racing Club de Narbonne Méditerannée
Notable people from Narbonne
Charles Trenet
Léon Blum
Saint Sébastien
Dimitri Szarzewski Digg It! Stumble Delicious Technorati Tweet It! Facebook

Enjoy a romp around the Aude, Languedoc

This Aude Languedoc property site is designed to give extra credibilty to buy property and find property for sale in the Aude, Languedoc as a holiday home or main residence.

There is detailed information on all you need to know about buying property in France and especially in the Aude,Languedoc. This can be found on http://www.languedoc-property-site.com

If you come to the Aude to buy Property, and need a Gite to stay in, have a look here:

Happy romp!!