History

Être avec des gens qu'on aime, cela suffit.

It is remarkable how the history of Aquitaine – “Land of water” has succeeded the history of France, or in fact preceded it…

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Until the 3rd century BC, the Gallic and Celts mingled with the local citizens and established Bordeaux and Perigueux. In 56 BC they were mastered by the Romans, which brought about civilization. Roads were built, city plans drawn and villas constructed. The first grapevines were planted and the province was given the nickname “Little Rome”.

In the 4
th century, the famous poet Ausone (309-394) – land owner in Bordeaux – recognized the region as his “Homeland known for Bacchus (Roman god of wine), its rivers and great men.”
After the Fall of Rome (476) the catholic church erupted in Aquitaine and the local citizens participated in the building of palaces for the bishops, monasteries and abbeys. This evolution continued with the development of several pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostella in Spain.

In the 10
th and 11th century the area was re-partitioned, this time between the dukedoms of Aquitaine and Gascogne, before it was united to one state to serve as the dowry for Eleanor, duchess of Aquitaine.


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The 100 years’ war whereby half of Aquitaine’s population fought for the English (Plantagenet), was won by the French (Valois) on July 17th, 1453. Those were difficult times for Aquitaine’s inhabitants: armies left a trail of destruction, epidemics and famine. Many of the region’s castles date back from these tempestuous times: e.g. Beynac (66km) in the Perigord and Bonaguil (35km) in the Lot & Garonne. 

Nevertheless the war was not endless and the period was also marked by a certain level of welfare. A growing population established itself in the fortified new cities, called ‘bastides’. It was also a time of growing commerce and the first successes of the Bordeaux wines. No less than 100.000 barrels, equaling 85 million liters of wine, were exported to England in 1308!
 
In the 18
th century, the merchants from Bordeaux were among the wealthiest, as Bordeaux had its economical peak and established itself as the most important city in Aquitaine. The beautiful architecture dating back from this period witnesses a golden era. The merchants imported exotic products (coffee, chocolate, cotton) and exported products to the US and Russia. There were even supporters of their compatriot Montesquieu (1689-1755) who refused to take part in the notorious slave trade. These were times where new ideas came to exist and gave rise to the French Revolution, after which the province was abolished and divided into five departments:  Gironde, Dordogne, Lot & Garonne, Lot and Aveyron.

Aquitaine’s previously dynamic economy was badly hit in the 19
th century, first of all by blockades and levies during the Napoleontic wars. Later on by the increasing English maritime predominance and finally because the global industrial revolution was not felt in the area. The situation improved in the 20th century with the expansive growth of agriculture, wine and food industry and tourism.