The defensive possibilities of Les Baux led to the site being settled early on in human history. Traces of habitation have been found dating back as far as 6000 BC, and the site was used by the Celts as a hill fort or oppidum around the 2nd century BC. During the Middle Ages it became the seat of a powerful feudal lordship that controlled 79 towns and villages in the vicinity. The lords of Baux sought control of Provence for many years. They claimed ancestry from the Magus king Balthazar and placed the Star of Bethlehem on their coat of arms. Despite their strengths, the lords of Baux were deposed in the 12th century. However, the great castle at Les Baux became renowned for its court, famed for a high level of ornateness, culture and chivalry. The domain was finally extinguished in the 15th century with the death of the last princess of Baux, Alice of Baux. Les Baux was later joined, along with Provence, to the French crown under the governance of the Manville family. It became a centre for Protestantism and its unsuccessful revolt against the crown led Cardinal Richelieu in 1632 to order that the castle and its walls should be demolished. The town was granted in 1642 to the Grimaldi family, rulers of Monaco, as a French marquisiate. To this day the title of Marquis des Baux remains with the Grimaldis, although administratively the town is entirely French. The title is traditionally given to the heir to the throne of Monaco. Princess Caroline of Monaco uses the style Marquise des Baux, but, being a French title it can only pass through a male line under Salic law. It lapsed on the death of her grandfather Prince Louis II, the last male in a direct line. In 1822 the mineral bauxite was discovered near Les Baux by the geologist Pierre Berthier. It was mined extensively in the area, but by the end of the 20th century had been completely worked out; France now imports most of its bauxite from west Africa. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Baux-de-Provence
Towards the southern end of Les Baux, you will find the Eglise Saint-Vincent, (church of Saint Vincen...
Would we have ever left the Middle Ages if ice cream had been available? Here in the midst of the rui...
Les Baux is a village in Provence with ruins of a fortress dating back hundreds of years. However, it...
In its day, the fortress at Les Baux must have been impressive. Its ruins still are. You can see here...
As you can see from this vantage point, Les Baux is a perfect location for a defensive fortress. You ...
France is affectionately referred to as "the Hexagon" for its overall shape.
French history goes back to the Gauls, a Celtic tribe which inhabited the area circa 300BC until being conquered by Julius Caesar.
The Franks were the first tribe to adopt Catholic Christianity after the Roman Empire collapsed. France became an independent location in the Treaty of Verdun in (843 AD), which divided up Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire into several portions.
The French monarchy reached its zenith during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, who stood for seventy-two years as the Monarch of all Monarchs. His palace of Versailles and its Hall of Mirrors are a splendid treasure-trove of Baroque art.
The French Revolution ended the rule of the monarchy with the motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" On July 14th, 1789 angry mobs stormed La Bastille prison and began the Revolution in which Louis XVI, his wife Marie-Antoinette and thousands of others met the guillotine.
One decade after the revolution, Napolean Bonaparte seized control of the Republic and named himself Emperor. His armies conquered most of Europe and his Napoleonic Code became a lasting legal foundation for concepts of personal status and property.
During the period of colonization France controlled the largest empire in the world, second only to Britain.
France is one of the founding members of the European Union and the United Nations, as well as one of the nuclear armed nations of the world.
Text by Steve Smith.