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Gascony(găs`kənē), Fr. Gascogne, region of SW France. It is now coextensive with the departments of Landes, Gers, and Hautes-Pyrénées and parts of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Lot-et-Garonne, Tarn-et-Garonne, Haute-Garonne, Gironde, and Ariège. The sandy and swampy LandesLandes
, region, SW France. It is a vast, flat, nearly triangular tract of sand and marshland, stretching along the Atlantic coast for more than 100 mi (160 km) between the Adour River and the Médoc region and reaching inland as far as 40 mi (60 km).
..... Click the link for more information. along the Atlantic coast, the majestic Pyrenees forming the border with Spain, and the hilly ArmagnacArmagnac
, region and former county, SW France, in Gascony, roughly coextensive with Gers dept. Auch is the chief town. Armagnac is famous for the brandy bearing the same name. The counts of Armagnac originated in the 10th cent. as vassals of the dukes of Gascony.
..... Click the link for more information. region between the Adour and Garonne rivers are the main geographic areas of Gascony. Fishing, stock raising, wine making, brandy distilling, and the tourist trade are the chief industries. The historical capital is AuchAuch
, town (1990 pop. 24,728), capital of Gers dept., SW France, in Gascony, on the Gers River. It is a farm market and commercial center with a variety of manufactures and an important trade in Armagnac brandy, poultry, wine, and grain.
..... Click the link for more information. ; other important towns are BayonneBayonne
, town (1990 pop. 41,846), Pyrénées-Atlantiques dept., SW France, in Gascony, on the Adour River near its entrance into the Bay of Biscay. Despite a shifting sandbar at the mouth of the Adour, it is a seaport, exporting sulfur, oil, and natural gas.
..... Click the link for more information. , BiarritzBiarritz
, town (1990 pop. 28,887), Pyrénées-Atlantiques dept., SW France, on the Bay of Biscay near the Spanish border. An ancient fishing village, it was a favorite vacation spot of Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie, whose visits sparked the growth of
..... Click the link for more information. , Luchon (see Bagnères-de-LuchonBagnères-de-Luchon
, town, Haute-Garonne dept., S France, at the foot of the Maladetta Mts. It is an important resort in the Pyrenees. Its warm sulfur springs have been known since Roman times.
..... Click the link for more information. ), TarbesTarbes
, city (1990 pop. 50,228), capital of Hautes-Pyrénées dept., SW France, on the Adour River. It is an industrial, commercial, and tourist center in a cattle- and horse-raising area.
..... Click the link for more information. , DaxDax
, town (1990 pop. 20,119), Landes dept., SW France, in Gascony, on the Adour River. It has long been famous for its hot mineral springs. An aviation school is in the town.
..... Click the link for more information. , and LourdesLourdes
, town (1990 pop. 16,581), Hautes-Pyrénées dept., SW France, at the foot of the Pyrénées. It is famous for its Roman Catholic shrine where Our Lady of Lourdes (Feast: Feb. 11) is believed to have repeatedly appeared (1858) to St. Bernadette.
..... Click the link for more information. . Under the Romans the region was known first as Aquitania Propria and later as Novempopulana or Aquitania Tertia and was inhabited by the Vascones, or BasquesBasques
, people of N Spain and SW France. There are about 2 million Basques in the three Basque provs. and Navarre, Spain; some 250,000 in Labourd, Soule, and Lower Navarre, France; and communities of various sizes in Central and South America and other parts of the world.
..... Click the link for more information. , who since prehistoric times had lived in the lands N and S of the Pyrenees. Except in the region SW of the Adour, where the Basque language and customs have persisted to the present, Latin soon became the tongue of Novempopulana. Conquered by the Visigoths (5th cent.) and by the Franks (6th cent.), Novempopulana was invaded in turn by the Basque-speaking peoples (the Vascones) from S of the Pyrenees, who in 601 set up the duchy of Vasconia or Gascony. The duchy's borders fluctuated as the Basques fought the Visigoths, the Franks, and the Arabs throughout the MerovingianMerovingians,
dynasty of Frankish kings, descended, according to tradition, from Merovech, chief of the Salian Franks, whose son was Childeric I and whose grandson was Clovis I, the founder of the Frankish monarchy.
..... Click the link for more information. period. The duchy kept an independent spirit throughout its history, even when Charlemagne forced the duke of Gascony to recognize Louis the Pious, king of Aquitaine, as his suzerain (9th cent.). Invaded by Norsemen early in the 9th cent., Gascony fell into anarchy and split up into small counties and seigniories. In 1052, with the exception of lower NavarreNavarre
, Span. Navarra , province (1990 pop. 527,318), N Spain, bordering on France, between the W Pyrenees and the Ebro River. Pamplona is the capital. Land and Economy
Navarre province forms the autonomous region of Navarra.
..... Click the link for more information. and BéarnBéarn
, former province, SW France, in the Pyrenees. It is now the inland part of Pyrénées-Atlantiques dept. Its valleys are well cultivated, and cattle are bred. Pau replaced Orthez as the capital in the 15th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. , which continued separate, the remainder of Gascony passed to the duchy of AquitaineAquitaine
, Lat. Aquitania, former duchy and kingdom in SW France. Julius Caesar conquered the Aquitani, an Iberian people of SW Gaul, in 56 B.C. The province that he created occupied the territory between the Garonne River and the Pyrenees; under Roman rule it was
..... Click the link for more information. . Gascony shared the fate of Aquitaine, fell under English control in 1154, and was a major battleground in the Hundred Years War (1337–1453); it was completely recovered by France in 1453. Gascony was then not a political unit; most of its territory was held by the counts of Armagnac, the counts of FoixFoix
, town (1990 pop. 10,466), capital of Ariège dept., S France, on the Ariège River at the foot of the Pyrenees. It is an administrative and tourist center with some small industry.
..... Click the link for more information. , and the lords of AlbretAlbret
, former duchy, SW France, in the Landes of Gascony. The powerful lords of Albret became kings of Navarre by the marriage (1484) of Jean d'Albret with Catherine de Foix, queen of Navarre, who also brought him Foix and Béarn.
..... Click the link for more information. . All these lands passed, through marriage and inheritance, to Henry of Navarre, who became king of France as Henry IV in 1589. The lands were united with the royal domain in 1607. The resulting province of Guienne and Gascony was divided under the jurisdictions of the parlements of Bordeaux and of Toulouse.
a former province of SW France