Provincia Gallia Narbonensis, Septimania, the Kindom of Narbonne, Gothia, County of Toulouse, Province of Languedoc, Occitania and Languedoc-Roussillon


The Languedoc has a long history, complicated by the fact
that its name has changed several times, as have its borders,
sometimes radically. The region was settled by Celts,
with a Greek colony at what is now Marseille. It started taking
form under the Romans as their first province outside Italy,
Gallia Narbonensis. In the fifth century as the Roman
Empire fell apart this province was ceded to the Visigoths
as Visigothic
Septimania (aka Gallia or Narbonensis). Due to Burgundian
incursions it shrank to become the Kingdom
of Narbonne and later expanded again as the Gothic
province of Gallia. In the eighth century it was over-run
by Moors and became Moorish
Septimania an outpost of al-Andalus. Later in the same
century it was again overrun, this time by the Franks, now
becoming Carolingian
Gothia. As Frankish influence waned, the area became identified
as the
County of Toulouse, an independent state, sharing a common
culture with a broader area known as Languedoc
or Occitania, both names preferring to Occitan, the common
language of the area. After it was annexed to France
in 1272, the County of Toulouse became a province of the Kingdom
of France. Known as the
Province of the Languedoc. After the revolution in 1789
the province of the Languedoc was divided into two, the eastern
part being having the Roussillon attached to it, and being
known as the Languedoc-Roussillon

In summary the history is as follows:

Gaul. The area (corresponding roughly the modern
Languedoc and Provence) was part of Gaul occupied by Celts,
with a Greek colony at what is now Marseille.

More on the Languedoc in Celtic times

Provincia Gallia Narbonensis. The Romans founded
a colony (Provincia Gallia Narbonensis) in BC 123 covering
an area roughly corresponding to the modern Languedoc and
modern Provence.

More on Provincia
Gallia Narbonensis

Septimania. The western region of the Roman province
of Gallia Narbonensis passed under the control of the Visigoths
in 462 and was ceded to their king, Theodoric II. This area
was known as Septimania.

More on Visigothic
Septimania, Gallia, Narbonensis

Kingdom of Narbonne. As the area fragmented under
assaults from the King of Bugundy, the Goths established
a Kingdom of Narbonne.

More on the Kingdom
of Narbonne

Gothic province of Gallia. The area became a province
of the Visigothic Kingdom centred in Iberia.

More on the Gothic
province of Gallia

Moorish Septimania. The Moors, under Al-Samh ibn
Malik the governor-general of al-Andalus, sweeping up the
Iberian peninsula, by 719 overran Septimania.

More on Moorish

Carolingian Gothia (8th century). When the Franks
overran the area they called it Gothia after the reign of
Charlemagne. , referring to the previous rulers.

More on Carolingian

County of Toulouse. As Frankish power diminished,
a number of independent states were established in the area.

More on the .County
of Toulouse

Languedoc & Occitania. These terms were used
to denote an area with a distinct culture, stretching across
what is now southern France, of which the County of Toulouse
was the largest and central part.

More on Languedoc
& Occitania

The Province of the Languedoc. After it was annexed
to France in 1272, the County of Toulouse became a province
of the Kingdom of France.

More on The
Province of the Languedoc

The Languedoc-Roussillon. After the revolution in
1789 the province of the Languedoc was divided into two,
the eastern part being having the Roussillon attached to
it, and being known as the The Languedoc-Roussillon.

More on the Languedoc-Roussillon


  • the province of Agenais (now eastern half of the département
    of Lot-et-Garonne) to the west of Languedoc,
  • the province of Gévaudan (now département
    of Lozère),
  • the province of Velay (now the central and eastern part
    of the département of Haute-Loire),
  • the southern part of the province of Vivarais (now the
    southern part of the département of Ardèche)
  • the northern half of Provence.

After the French conquest the entire county was dismantled,
the central part of it being now called Languedoc.

The gouvernement of Languedoc was created in the middle of
the 16th century. In addition to Languedoc proper, it also
included the three small provinces of Gévaudan, Velay,
and Vivarais (in its entirety), these three provinces being
to the northeast of Languedoc.

Some people also consider that the region around Albi
was a traditional province, called Albigeois (now département
of Tarn), although it is most often considered as being part
of Languedoc proper. The provinces of Quercy and Rouergue,
despite their old ties with Toulouse,
were not incorporated into the gouvernement of Languedoc,
instead being attached to the gouvernement of Guienne and
its far-away capital Bordeaux. This decision was probably
intentional, to avoid reviving the independently-spirited
county of Toulouse.

The Province of Languedoc covered an area of approximately
42,700 km² (16,490 sq. miles), roughly the region between
the Rhône
River (border with Provence) and the Garonne River (border
with Gascony), extending northwards to the Cévennes
and the Massif Central (border with Auvergne).

The governors of Languedoc resided in Pézenas,
on the Mediterranean
coast, away from Toulouse
but close to Montpellier.
In time they had increased their power well beyond military
matters, and had become the l administrators and executive
power of the province, a trend seen in the other gouvernements
of France, but particularly acute in Languedoc. In the Languedoc
the Duke of Montmorency, governor of Languedoc, openly rebelled
against the king, was defeated and beheaded in Toulouse
in 1632 by the order of Richelieu. The kings of France became
fearful of the power of the governors, so after King Louis
XIV (the Sun King) they had to reside in Versailles and were
forbidden to enter the territory of their gouvernement. Thus
the gouvernements became hollow structures, but they still
carried a sense of the old provinces, and so their names and
limits have remained popular until today.

For administrative purposes, Languedoc was divided in two
généralités, the généralité
of Toulouse
and the généralité of Montpellier,
the combined territory of the two generalities exactly matching
that of the gouvernement of Languedoc. At the head of a generality
was an intendant, but in the case of Languedoc there was only
one intendant responsible for both generalities, and he was
often referred to as the intendant of Languedoc, even though
technically speaking he was in fact the intendant of the generality
of Toulouse
and intendant of the generality of Montpellier.

The generality of Toulouse
is also referred to as Upper Languedoc (Haut-Languedoc), while
the generality of Montpellier,
down to the level of the sea, is referred to as Lower Languedoc
(Bas-Languedoc). The intendants of Languedoc resided in Montpellier,
and they had a sub-delegate in Toulouse.
was chosen specifically to diminish the power of Toulouse,
which symbolised the old spirit of independence of the county
of Toulouse,
and whose parlement was very influential. The intendants replaced
the governors as administrators of Languedoc, but appointed
and dismissed at will by the king, they were no threat to
the central state in Versailles. By 1789 they were the most
important element of the local administration of the kingdom.

The Parlement of Toulouse

For judicial and legislative matters, Languedoc was overseen
by the Parlement of Toulouse, founded in the middle of the
15th century. It was the first parlement created outside of
Paris by the kings of France in order to be the equivalent
of the Parlement of Paris in the faraway southern territories
of the kingdom. The jurisdiction of the Parlement of Toulouse
included the whole of the territory of the gouvernement of
Languedoc, but it also included the province of Rouergue,
most of the province of Quercy, and a part of Gascony. The
Parlement of Toulouse was the supreme court of justice for
this vast area of France, the court of last resort whose rulings
could not be appealed, not even to the Parlement of Paris.
The Parlement of Toulouse could also create case law through
its decisions, as well as interpret the law. It was also in
charge of registering new royal edicts and laws, and could
decide to block them if it found them to be in contravention
with the liberties and laws of Languedoc.


For purposes of taxation, Languedoc was ruled by the States
of Languedoc, whose jurisdiction included only Languedoc proper
(and Albigeois), but not Gévaudan, Velay, and Vivarais,
which kept each their own provincial states until 1789. Languedoc
proper was one of the very few provinces of France which had
the privilege to decide over tax matters, the kings of France
having suppressed the provincial states in most other provinces
of the kingdom. This was a special favour from the kings to
ensure that an independently-spirited region faraway from
Versailles would remain faithful to the central state. The
States of Languedoc met in many different cities, and for
some time they established themselves in Pézenas,
but in the 18th century they were relocated definitively to
where they met once a year, until 1789.


For religious purposes, Languedoc was divided into a number
of ecclesiastical provinces.

Modern administrative divisions

Resulting from this intricate entanglement of administrations
and jurisdictions so typical of France before the French Revolution,
it is hard to say which city was the capital city of Languedoc.
and Montpellier
both often claim to be the capital of Languedoc. As a matter
of fact, in the 18th century the monarchy clearly favouredMontpellier,
a city much smaller than Toulouse,
and with less history and memories attached to it than the
ancient metropolis of Toulouse,
of which the kings of France were always fearful. However,
most people consider that Toulouse
is the real capital city of the province of Languedoc, due
to its old status as centre of the county of Toulouse,
and due to the mighty power of its parlement. On maps (both
ancient and modern) showing the provinces of France in 1789
(or rather the gouvernements), Toulouse
is always marked as the capital city of Languedoc.

The province of Languedoc has been divided between four modern-day

  • 55.5% of its former territory lies in the Languedoc-Roussillon
    région, capital city Montpellier,
    covering the départements of Gard,
    and the extreme-north of Pyrénées-Orientales,
    which account for 86.5% of the territory of Languedoc-Roussillon.
    The remaining 13.5% is Roussillon
    (Pyrénées-Orientales), a province which
    was never part of Languedoc historically.
  • 24.8% of its former territory lies in the Midi-Pyrénées
    région, capital city Toulouse,
    covering the département of Tarn, as well as the
    eastern half of Haute-Garonne, the southeast of Tarn-et-Garonne,
    and the Northwest and Northeast of Ariège, which
    account for 23.4% of the territory of Midi-Pyrénées.
    The remaining 76.6% is made of Quercy and Rouergue, as well
    as the province of County of Foix (which had been a vassal
    of the county of Toulouse
    in the Middle Ages), several small provinces of the Pyrenees
    mountains, and a large part of Gascony.
  • 13% lies in the Rhône-Alpes région, covering
    the département of Ardèche, which accounts
    for 12.7% of the territory of Rhône-Alpes
  • 6.7% lies in the Auvergne région, covering the
    central and eastern part of the département of Haute-Loire,
    which account for 11% of the territory of modern-day Auvergne

Population and cities

On the traditional territory of the province of Languedoc
there live approximately 3,650,000 people (as of 1999 census),
52% of these in the Languedoc-Roussillon région, 35%
in the Midi-Pyrénées région, 8% in the
Rhône-Alpes région, and 5% in the Auvergne région.

The territory of the former province shows a stark contrast
between some densely populated areas (coastal plains as well
as metropolitan area of Toulouse
in the interior) where density is between 150 inhabitants
per km²/390 inh. per sq. mile (coastal plains) and 300
inh. Per km²/780 inh. Per sq. mile (plain of Toulouse),
and the hilly and mountainous interior where density is extremely
low, the Cévennes area in the south of Lozère
having one of the lowest densities of Europe with only 7.4
inhabitants per km² (19 inh. Per sq. mile).

The five largest metropolitan areas on the territory of the
former province of Languedoc are (as of 1999 census): Toulouse
(964,797), Montpellier
(459,916), Nîmes
(221,455), Béziers
(124,967), and Alès (89,390).

The population of the former province of Languedoc is currently
the fastest-growing in France, and also among the fastest-growing
in Europe, as an increasing flow of people from northern France
and the north of Europe relocating to the sunbelt of Europe,
in which Languedoc is located. Growth is particularly strong
in the metropolitan areas of Toulouse
and Montpellier,
which are the two fastest growing metropolitan areas in Europe
at the moment. However, the interior of Languedoc is still
losing inhabitants, which increases the difference of density.

Population of the coast of Languedoc as well as the region
of Toulouse
is young, educated, and affluent, whereas in the interior
the population tends to be much older, with significantly
lower incomes, and with a lower percentage of high school
and especially college graduates.




Lengadòc-Rosselhon; Catalan: Llenguadoc-Rosselló)
is one of the 26 regions of France. It comprises five departments,
and borders the other French regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte
d’Azur, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne, Midi-Pyrénées
on the one side, and Spain, Andorra and the Mediterranean
Sea on the other side.

The region is made up of the following historical provinces:

68.7% of Languedoc-Roussillon was formerly part the province
of Languedoc: the departments of Aude,
the extreme south and extreme east of Lozère,
and the extreme north of Pyrénées-Orientales.
The former province of Languedoc also extends over the Midi-Pyrénées
region, including the old capital of Languedoc Toulouse.

17.9% of Languedoc-Roussillon was formerly the province of
Gévaudan: Lozère
department. A small part of the former Gévaudan lies
inside the current Auvergne region. Gévaudan is often
considered to be a sub-province inside the province of Languedoc,
in which case Languedoc would account for 86.6% of Languedoc-Roussillon.

13.4% of Languedoc-Roussillon, located in the southernmost
part of the region, is a collection of five historical Catalan
pays: Roussillon,
Vallespir, Conflent, Capcir, and Cerdagne, all of which are
in turn included -east to west- in the Pyrénées-Orientales
département. These pays were part of the Ancient Regime
province of Roussillon,
owning its name to the largest and most populous of the five
pays, Roussillon.
« Province of Roussillon and adjacent lands of Cerdagne »
was indeed the name that was officially used after the area
became French in 1659, based on the historical division of
the five pays between the county of Roussillon
(Roussillon and Vallespir) and the county of Cerdagne (Cerdagne,
Capcir, and Conflent).

Llívia is a town of Cerdanya, province of Girona,
Catalonia, Spain, that forms a Spanish exclave surrounded
by French territory (Pyrénées-Orientales


At the regional elections in March 2004, the socialist mayor
of Montpellier
Georges Frêche, a maverick in French politics, conquered
the region, defeating its center-right president. Since then,
Georges Frêche has embarked on a complete overhaul of
the region and its institutions. The flag of the region, which
displayed the cross of Languedoc as well as the Flag of Roussillon
(the « Senyera »), was changed for a new nondescript
flag with no reference to the old provinces, except in terms
of the colours (red and yellow), which are the colours of
both Languedoc and all the territories from the former Crown
of Aragon.

Frêche also wanted to change the name of the region,
wishing to erase its duality (Languedoc vs. Roussillon)
and strengthen its unity. Thus, he wanted to rename the region
« Septimanie » (Septimania), the name created by the
Romans at the end of the Roman Empire for the coastal area
corresponding quite well to present day Languedoc-Roussillon
(including Roussillon,
but not including Gévaudan), and used in the early
Middle Ages for the area. A strong opposition of the population
led to Georges Frêche giving up on his idea.

Catalan nationalists in Roussillon
would like the Pyrénées-Orientales
department to secede from Languedoc-Roussillon and become
a region in its own right, under the proposed name of « Catalunya
Nord » (Northern Catalonia).

On the other hand there are some who would like to merge
the Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions,
reunifying the old province of Languedoc, and creating a large

Prior to the 1960s, Occitan
and Catalan were the dominant languages of the area.

Occitan literature – still sometimes called Provençal
literature – is a body of texts written in Occitan
in what is nowadays the South of France. It originated in
the poetry of the eleventh- and twelfth- century Troubadours,
and inspired the rise of vernacular literature throughout
medieval Europe.

Music. Aimeric de Peguilhan, Giraut de Bornelh and
Bertran de Born were major influences in troubadour composition,
in the High Middle Ages. The troubadour tradition is associated
with originating from the region.

The Romantic music composer Déodat de Séverac
was born in the region, and, following his schooling in Paris,
he returned to the region to compose. He sought to incorporate
the music indigenous to the area in his compositions.

Wine. The Languedoc-Roussillon region is a major wine
producing area – the largest in the world – dominated by 740,300
acres (2,996 km2) of vineyards, three times the area of all
the vineyards in Bordeaux. The region has been an important
wine making centre for centuries. Grapevines are said to have
existed in the South of France since the Pliocene period –
before the existence of Homo sapiens. The first vineyards
of Gaul developed around two towns: Béziers
and Narbonne.
The Mediterranean
climate and plentiful land with soil ranging from rocky
sand to thick clay was very suitable for the production of
wine, and it is estimated that one in ten bottles of the world’s
wine was produced in this region during the 20th century.

The region is the largest contributor to the European Union’s
glut of wine known as the wine lake.

Sud de France. The Languedoc-Roussillon region has
adopted a marque to help market its products, in particular,
but not limited to, wine. The ‘Sud de France’ (Southern France)
marque was adopted in 2006 to help customers abroad not familiar
with the Appellation system to recognise those wines that
originated in the L-R area, but the marque is also used for
other products, some of which include cheeses, olive oils
and pies.




The present Languedoc
represents the southern half of the area covered by the
ancient Roman’s first province outside Italy. The northern
part is now called Provence.
The area shares much common history with the Languedoc, having
successively been connected and disconnected over the centuries.
For more on Provence and its history, click on the following
link which will open a new window to Beyond
the French Riviera





The Frankish king Clovis defeated the Visigoths in
the Battle of Vouillé. Afterwards, the child-king
Amalaric was carried for safety into the Iberian Peninsula.
Aquitania passed into the hands of the Franks, and Septimania,
with other Visigothic territories in Gaul, was ruled
by Amalaric’s maternal grandfather, Theodoric the Great.


Theodoric the Great created the first kingdom of Septimania,
retaining its traditional capital at Narbonne.
He appointed as his regent an Ostrogothic nobleman named


The young Amalaric was proclaimed king.


Theodoric died. Amalaric assumed full royal power in
the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania, relinquishing
Provence to his cousin Athalaric. He married Clotilda,
daughter of Clovis, but found, as other royal husbands
of Merovingian princesses found, that the entanglement
brought on him the penalty of a Frankish invasion.


Amalaric lost his life in the Frankish invasion, and
Arian Visigothic Septimania was the last part of Gaul
to remain in Visigothic hands.


Prince Theudebert son of Theuderic of Austrasia (Merovingian
Frankish not Gothic) invaded Septimania in concert with
Prince Gunthar son of King Chlothar. Gunthar stopped
at Rodez and did not invade Septimania. Theudebert took
and held the country as far as Béziers
and Carbiriers from which he took the woman Deuteria
as a wife. Theudebert and his half brother Childebert
invaded Spain as far as Saragossa 534-538. At some point
soon after this, the Visigoths regained the territory
they had lost in Theudebert’s invasion.


Merovingian King of Burgundy Guntram raised a force
to invade Septimania as a prelude to conquest of Spain.
His forces plundered from Nîmes
to Carcassonne
(where the Frankish Count Terentiolus of Limoges was
killed) but were unable to take the walled cities. Visigothic
Prince Recared came in response from Spain to Narbonne
and as far as Nîmes
and invaded nearby Frankish territories as far as Tolosa
for plunder and to punish the Franks for the invasion
(Gregory of Tours Book VIII 30-31 and 38). Frankish
rebel Dukes Desiderius and Austrovald at that time in
control of Tolosa raised an army and attacked Carcassonne.
Desiderius was defeated and killed and Austrovald retreated
with his for Tolosa (Gregory of Tours Book VIII 44).


Septimania came under Catholic Rule in 587 with the
conversion of Recared, who had become the King of the
Visigoths in 586 with his father, Leovigild’s death.
At that time Arian Bishop Athaloc and Counts Granista
and Wildigern revolted against Recared in Septimania
but were defeated (Gregory of Tours Book IX 15 and John
of Biclar) Most of the Christian population of the province
were already Catholic and Arian Christians largely converted
with the death of Athaloc soon after Recared’s conversion.


Merovingian King of Burgundy Guntram again tried to
invade Septimania sending Austrovald to Carcassonne
and Boso and Antestius to other cities. King Recared
sent General Claudius who defeated the Franks and preserved
the territory of Septimania under Visigothic Rule.


The Moors over-ran Septimania.


Al-Samh set up his capital at Narbonne,
which the Moors called Arb?na. He offered the still
largely Arian inhabitants generous terms.

Al-Samh quickly pacified the other cities. With Narbonne
secure, and equally important, its port, for the Arab
mariners were masters now of the Western Mediterranean
, he swiftly subdued the largely unresisting cities,
still controlled by their Visigoth counts: taking Alet
and Béziers,
Agde, Lodève, Maguelonne and Nîmes


By now Al-Samh was reinforced and ready to lay siege
to Toulouse,
a possession that would open up Aquitaine to him on
the same terms as Septimania. But his plans were overthrown
in the disastrous Battle of Toulouse (721), with immense
losses, in which al-Samh was so seriously wounded that
he soon died at Narbonne.


Arab forces soundly based in Narbonne
and easily resupplied by sea, struck eastwards.


Arab raid on Autun.


The Berber wali of Narbonne
and the region of Cerdanya, Uthman ibn Naissa, called
« Munuza » by the Franks, who was recently linked
by marriage to duke Eudes of Aquitaine, revolted against
Córdoba, and was defeated and killed.


October: An Islamic invasion force made up primarily
of Berber and Arab cavalry under Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi
encountered Charles Martel and his veteran Frankish
army between Tours and Poitiers and was defeated, and
Abd er-Rahman was killed, at what the majority of historians
consider the macrohistorical « Battle of Tours »
that stopped the Moorish advance.

  Frankish Conquest

The Franks took the territory round Toulouse.
Charles Martel directed his attention to Narbonne.


Charles Martel destroyed Arles, Avignon, and Nîmes,
but unsuccessfully attacked Narbonne,
which was defended by its Goths, and Jews
under the command of its governor Yusuf, ‘Abd er-Rahman’s
heir. Having crushed the relief force at the River Berre,
he left Narbonne

around 747: The government of the Septimania region
(and the Upper Mark, from the Pyrenees
to the river Ebro) was given to Aumar Ben Aumar.

752: The Gothic counts of Nîmes,
Melguelh, Agde and Béziers
refused allegiance to the emir at Córdoba and declared
their loyalty to the Frankish king. The count of Nîmes,
Ansemund, had some authority over the remaining counts.
The Gothic counts and the Franks then began to besiege
where Miló was probably the count (as successor
of the count Gilbert), but Narbonne

An anti-Frank reaction, led by Ermeniard, killed Ansemund,
but the uprising was without success and Radulf was
designated new count by the Frankish court.

About 755: Abd al-Rahman Ben Uqba replaced Aumar Ben

759: Charles Martel’s son, Pippin the Younger besiegedNarbonne,
which capitulated. The county was granted to Miló,
who was the Gothic count in Muslim times.
760: The Franks took the region of Roussillon.
767: After the fight against Waifred of Aquitaine, Albi,
Rouergue, Gévaudan, and the city of Toulouse
were conquered.
777: The wali of Barcelona, Sulayman al-Arabi, and the wali
of Huesca, Abu Taur, offered their submission to Charlemagne
and also the submission of Husayn, wali of Zaragoza.
778: Charlemagne invaded the Upper Mark. Husayn refused allegiance
and Charlemagne had to retreat.
778: August 15: In the Pyrenees
, the Basques defeated Charlemagne’s forces in the Roncesvalles.
Charlemagne found Septimania and the borderlands so devastated
and depopulated by warfare, with the inhabitants hiding
among the mountains, that he made grants of land that
were some of the earliest identifiable fiefs to Visigothic
and other refugees. He also founded several monasteries
in Septimania, around which the people gathered for protection.
Beyond Septimania to the south Charlemagne established
the Hispanic Marches in the borderlands of his empire.
Septimania passed to Louis, king in Aquitaine, but it
was governed by Frankish margraves and then dukes (from
817) of Septimania.
826: The Frankish noble Bernat of Septimania (also, Bernat
of Gothia) became ruler of Septimania and the Hispanic
Marches and ruled them until 832. His career characterised
the turbulent 9th century in Septimania. His appointment
as Count of Barcelona in 826 occasioned a general uprising
of the Catalan lords at this intrusion of Frankish power.
For suppressing Berenguer of Toulouse
and the Catalans, Louis the Pious rewarded Bernat with
a series of counties, which roughly delimit 9th century
Septimania: Narbonne,
Agde, Magalona, Nîmes
and Uzès.
843: Bernard rose against Charles the Bald.
844: Bernard was apprehended at Toulouse
and beheaded.