Gascony (/ˈɡæskəni/; French: Gascogne [ɡaskɔɲ]; Gascon:
Gasconha [ɡasˈkuɲɔ]; Basque: Gaskoinia) is an area of southwest
France that was part of the "Province of
Guyenne and Gascony" prior to
the French Revolution. The region is vaguely defined, and the
Gascony is unclear; by some they are
seen to overlap, while others consider
Gascony a part of Guyenne. Most
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
of Gers, Hautes-Pyrénées, southwestern Tarn-et-Garonne, and western
Gascony was historically inhabited by Basque-related people who appear
to have spoken a language similar to Basque. The name
from the same root as the word Basque (see Wasconia below). From
medieval times until today, the
Gascon language has been spoken,
although it is classified as a regional variant of the Occitan
Gascony is the land of d'Artagnan, who inspired Alexandre Dumas's
character d'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers. It is also home to Henry
III of Navarre, who later became king of France as Henry IV.
1.4 Angevin Empire
5 External links
Typical view of the hilly countryside of Gascony, with the Pyrenees
mountains in the far distance
In pre-Roman times, the inhabitants of
Gascony were the Aquitanians
(Latin: Aquitani), who spoke a non-Indo-European language related to
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.
Visigoths were defeated by the Franks in 507, and fled into Spain
and Septimania, as well as Albania. Novempopulania
then became part of the
Frankish Kingdom like the rest of southern
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.
Main article: Duchy of Vasconia
Dukes of Gascony
Dukes of Gascony and
Basque people in the Early Middle Ages
The Duchy was meant to hold sway over the Basques (Vascones)
Old historical literature sometimes 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
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", as stated in the Royal Frankish Annals, for one).
The word Vasconia evolved into Wasconia, and then into Gasconia (w-
often evolved into g- under the influence of Romance languages, cf.
warranty and guarantee, 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. It was heavily influenced by the original
Aquitanian language (for example, Latin f- became h-, cf. Latin
fortia, French force, Spanish fuerza, Occitan fòrça, but Gascon
hòrça). Quite paradoxically (or logically) the Basques from the
French side of the Basque Country traditionally call anyone who does
not speak Basque a Gascon.
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.
Main article: Angevin Empire
His 1152 marriage to
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine allowed the future Henry II
to gain control of his new wife's possessions of
Gascony. This addition to his already plentiful holdings made Henry
the most powerful vassal in France.
Homage of Edward I (kneeling) to Philip IV (seated)
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
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 1295, Philip
"confiscated" the lands. Between 1295 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
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
Gascony should be taken back into Philip's hands, thus
Hundred Years War
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 most important towns are:
Auch, the historical capital
Bayonne, with both Basque and Gascon identity
The main economic activities are:
fruit and vegetables
wine and brandy
gas and oil
wood products and packaging
^ Juan José Larrea, Pierre Bonnassie: La Navarre du IVe au XIIe
siècle: peuplement et société, page 123-129, De Boeck Université,
^ "The Development of Southern French and Catalan Society,
718–1050". THE LIBRARY OF IBERIAN RESOURCES ONLINE. Retrieved 26
^ Harvey, The Plantagenets, p.47
^ p276 Chronicle of Britain ISBN 1-872031-35-8
^ p280 Chronicle of Britain ISBN 1-872031-35-8
^ p297 Chronicle of Britain ISBN 1-872031-35-8
^ Chris Given-Wilson, ed. (2010). Fourteenth Century England VI: 6.
London: Boydell Press. pp. 34–36.
^ Previte-Orton, C.W (1978). The shorter Cambridge Medieval History 2.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 872.
^ Sumption, Jonathan (1991). The
Hundred Years War
Hundred Years War I: Trial by Battle.
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 184.
^ Wagner, John A (2006). Encyclopedia of the Hundred Years War.
Westport CT: Greenwood Press. p. 79.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gascogne.
Gascony in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Old flag. Given to the Gascons by
Pope Clement III
Pope Clement III during the Third
Historical provinces of France
Flanders and Hainaut
Coordinates: 43°58′37″N 0°10′34″W / 43.977°N
0.176°W / 43