Centre Ville: Narbonne Part I

Narbonne is located in the Aude département, approximately 8 miles from the the Mediterranean Sea.

Via Domita

The earliest settlement here was a defended Iron Age village at Montlaurès, about 4km north-west of the present city. Narbonne was the site of the first Roman settlement beyond the Alps in Gaul founded in 118 BC.

The Roman colony soon became the wealthiest city in southern Gaul, and was nominated by the emperor Augustus as capital of a province extending from Toulouse to Geneva.

During this time it was already a wine growing region. In AD92, the emperor Domitian ordered the destruction of half of the existing vineyards.

Narbonne lay on the Domitian Way and became the capital for all of Southern Gaul. While it had been a major port at the time  it now lies some 20 km from the sea.

413 – Narbonne was defeated by the Visigoths. Later they made it capital . In 719 the town was captured by the Moors and who maintained there hold on it until 759 when the city had become part of the Frankish kingdom under Pépin the Short who was the father of Charlemagne.

The Counts of Toulouse (as Dukes of Narbonne) ruled the southern part of town during the Middle Ages. In the northern part was under the control of the Episcopal Church.

11th and 12th centuries – Narbonne becomes the centre of an important Jewish exegetical school, which played a role in the growth and development of the Zarphatic and Shuadit languages. The Kabbalah was rediscovered and developed here. Jews had settled in Narbonne from about the 5th century, with a community that had grown to around 2000 in the 12th century.

The Gothic cathedral – Work begins in 1272 . In 1347 the work was stopped by a lawsuit by the city council. To this day the cathedral remains unfinished. This action was crucial to protect the ramparts. The city wall protected the city during the Hundred Years’ War. 

A flood in 1320 created a build up of silt causing the River Aude to change course and thus this major fishing port now is a vineyard covered plain.

1348  Black Death struck the Languedoc as it spead across Europe through Italian trade routes. Nearly half of the population died. Like they did in other cities across Europe, Christian leaders created tales that the disease was caused by infected well water and that wells had been poisoned by Jews. Like other cities, surviving members of the local Jewish community were burned alive for these invented crimes.

The Hundred Years’ War added to Narbonne’s misery and by the late 14th century.

1507 – Narbonne now part of France.

17th century – Attempts were made to restore Narbonne’s former grandeur by Paul Riquet, architect of the Canal du Midi. Frustrated by the manuvers of antagonistic officials of neighbouring villages. His grand efforts did not come into fruition until the completion of Canal de la Robine (connecting  Narbonne to the Canal du Midi) in 1786.

Bisous,

Léa

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