Place:Bayonne, Basses-Pyrénées, France


Alt namesBaionasource: Wikipedia
Bayonasource: Wikipedia
Lapurdumsource: Times Atlas of World History (1993) p 348
Coordinates43.5°N 1.467°W
Located inBasses-Pyrénées, France
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Bayonne is a city and commune and one of the two sub-prefectures of the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwestern France. It is located at the confluence of the Nive and Adour rivers in the northern part of the cultural region of the Basque Country. Bayonne is alongside Biarritz the seat of the CA Pays Basque. This is also the southern part of Gascony, where the Aquitaine basin joins the beginning of the Pre-Pyrenees.

Together with nearby Anglet, Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and several smaller communes, Bayonne forms an urban area with 273,137 inhabitants at the 2018 census; 51,411 residents lived in the city of Bayonne proper. It is also a part of Basque Eurocity Bayonne-San Sebastián.

The site on the left bank of the Nive and the Adour was probably occupied before ancient times; a fortified enclosure was attested in the 1st century at the time when the Tarbelli occupied the territory. Archaeological studies have confirmed the presence of a Roman castrum, a stronghold in Novempopulania at the end of the 4th century, before the city was populated by the Vascones.

In 1023, Bayonne was the capital of Labourd. In the 12th century, it extended to the confluence and beyond of the Nive River. At that time the first bridge was built over the Adour. The city came under the domination of the English in 1152 through the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine: it became militarily and, above all, commercially important thanks to maritime trade. In 1177, Richard the Lion Heart of England took control of it, separating it from the Viscount of Labourd.

In 1451, the city was taken by the Crown of France after the Hundred Years' War. The loss of trade with the English was followed by the river gradually filling with silt and becoming impassable to ships. As the city developed to the north, its position was weakened compared to earlier times. The district of Saint-Esprit developed initially from settlement by Sephardic Jewish refugees fleeing the Spanish expulsions dictated by the Alhambra Decree. This community brought skill in chocolate making, and Bayonne gained a reputation for chocolate.

The course of the Adour was changed in 1578 by dredging under the direction of Louis de Foix, and the river returned to its former mouth. Bayonne flourished after regaining the maritime trade that it had lost for more than a hundred years. In the 17th century the city was fortified by Vauban, whose works were followed as models of defense for 100 years. In 1814, Bayonne and its surroundings were the scene of fighting between the Napoleonic troops and the Spanish-Anglo-Portuguese coalition led by the Duke of Wellington. It was the last time the city was under siege.

In 1951, the Lacq gas field was discovered in the region; its extracted sulphur and associated oil are shipped from the port of Bayonne. During the second half of the 20th century, many housing estates were built, forming new districts on the periphery. The city developed to form a conurbation with Anglet and Biarritz: this agglomeration became the heart of a vast Basque-Landes urban area.

In 2014, Bayonne was a commune with more than 45,000 inhabitants, the heart of the urban area of Bayonne and of the Agglomeration Côte Basque-Adour. This includes Anglet and Biarritz. It is an important part of the Basque Bayonne-San Sebastián Eurocity and it plays the role of economic capital of the Adour basin. Modern industry—metallurgy and chemicals—have been established to take advantage of procurement opportunities and sea shipments through the harbour. Business services today represent the largest source of employment. Bayonne is also a cultural capital, a city with strong Basque and Gascon influences, and a rich historical past. Its heritage is expressed in its architecture, the diversity of collections in museums, its gastronomic specialties, and traditional events such as the noted Fêtes de Bayonne.

The inhabitants of the commune are known as Bayonnais or Bayonnaises.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia


In the absence of accurate objective data there is some credence to the probable existence of a fishing village on the site in a period prior to ancient times. Numerous traces of human occupation have been found in the Bayonne region from the Middle Paleolithic especially in the discoveries at Saint-Pierre-d'Irube, a neighbouring locality. On the other hand, the presence of a mound about high has been detected in the current Cathedral Quarter overlooking the Nive which formed a natural protection and a usable port on the left bank of the Nive. At the time the mound was surrounded north and west by the Adour swamps. At its foot lies the famous "Bayonne Sea"—the junction of the two rivers—which may have been about wide between Saint-Esprit and the Grand Bayonne and totally covered the current location of Bourg-Neuf (in the district of Petit Bayonne). To the south the last bend of the Nive widens near the Saint-Léon hills. Despite this, the narrowing of the Adour valley allows easier crossing than anywhere else along the entire length of the estuary.

In conclusion, the strategic importance of this height was so obvious it must be presumed that it has always been inhabited.[1]

Ancient times

The oldest documented human occupation site is located on a hill overlooking the Nive and its confluence with the Adour.Cite error 3; Invalid call; invalid keys, e.g. too many or wrong key specified

In the 1st century AD, during the Roman occupation, Bayonne already seems to have been of some importance since the Romans surrounded the city with a wall to keep out the Tarbelli, Aquitani, or the proto-Basque who then occupied a territory that extended south of modern-day Landes, to the modern French Basque country, the Chalosse, the valleys of the Adour, the mountain streams of Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, and to the Gave d'Oloron.

The archaeological discoveries of October and November 1995 provided a shred of evidence to support this projection. In the four layers of sub-soil along the foundation of the Gothic cathedral (in the "apse of the cathedral" area) a 2-metre depth was found of old objects from the end of the 1st century—in particular sigillated Gallic ceramics from Montans imitating Italian styles, thin-walled bowls, and fragments of amphorae. In the "southern sector" near the cloister door there were objects from the second half of the 1st century as well as coins from the first half of the 3rd century.

A very high probability of human presence, not solely military, seems to provisionally confirm the occupation of the site at least around the third century.

A Roman castrum dating to the end of the 4th century has been proven as a fortified place of Novempopulania. Named Lapurdum, the name became the name of the province of Labourd. According to Eugene Goyheneche the name Baiona designated the city, the port, and the cathedral while that of Lapurdum was only a territorial designation. This Roman settlement was strategic as it allowed the monitoring of the trans-Pyrenean roads and of local people rebellious to the Roman power. The construction covered 6 to 10 hectares according to several authors.

Middle Ages

The geographical location of the locality at the crossroads of a river system oriented from east to west and the road network connecting Europe to the Iberian Peninsula from north to south predisposed the site to the double role of fortress and port. The city, after being Roman, alternated between the Vascones and the English for three centuries from the 12th to the 15th century.

The Romans left the city in the 4th century and the Basques, who had always been present, dominated the former Novempopulania province between the Garonne, the Ocean, and the Pyrénées. Novempopulania was renamed Vasconia and then Gascony after a Germanic deformation (resulting from the Visigoth and Frankish invasions). Basquisation of the plains region was too weak against the advance of romanization. From the mixture between the Basque and Latin language Gascon was created.

Documentation on Bayonne for the period from the High Middle Ages are virtually nonexistent. with the exception of two Norman intrusions: one questionable in 844 and a second attested in 892.

When Labourd was created in 1023 Bayonne was the capital and the Viscount resided there. The history of Bayonne proper started in 1056 when Raymond II the Younger, Bishop of Bazas, had the mission to build the Church of BayonneCite error 3; Invalid call; invalid keys, e.g. too many or wrong key specified

The construction was under the authority of Raymond III of Martres, Bishop of Bayonne from 1122 to 1125, combined with Viscount Bertrand for the Romanesque cathedral, the rear of which can still be seen today, and the first wooden bridge across the Adour extending the Mayou bridge over the Nive, which inaugurated the heyday of Bayonne.Cite error 3; Invalid call; invalid keys, e.g. too many or wrong key specified From 1120 new districts were created under population pressure. The development of areas between the old Roman city of Grand Bayonne and the Nive also developed during this period, then between the Nive and the Adour at the place that became Petit Bayonne. A Jacobin Convent was located there in 1225 then that of the Cordeliers in 1247.Cite error 3; Invalid call; invalid keys, e.g. too many or wrong key specified Construction of and modifications to the defences of the city also developed to protect the new districts.

In 1130, the King of Aragon Alfonso the Battler besieged the city without success. Bayonne came under English rule when Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henry II of England in 1152. This alliance gave Bayonne many commercial privileges. The Bayonnaises became carriers of Bordeaux wines and other south-western products like resin, ham, and woad to England. Bayonne was then an important military base. In 1177, King Richard separated the Viscounty of Labourd whose capital then became Ustaritz. Like many cities at the time, in 1215 Bayonne obtained the award of a municipal charter and was emancipated from feudal powers.

The official publication in 1273 of a Coutume unique to the city, remained in force for five centuries until the separation of Bayonne from Labourd.

Bayonnaise industry at that time was dominated by shipbuilding: wood (oak, beech, chestnut from the Pyrenees, and pine from Landes) being overabundant. There was also maritime activity in providing crews for whaling, commercial marine or, and it was often so at a time when it was easy to turn any merchant ship into a warship, the English Royal Navy.

Renaissance and modern times

Jean de Dunois – a former companion at arms of Joan of Arc—captured the city on 20 August 1451 and annexed it to the Crown "without making too many victims", but at the cost of a war indemnity of 40,000 gold Écus payable in a year,—thanks to the opportunism of the bishop who claimed to have seen "a large white cross surmounted by a crown which turns into a fleur-de-lis in the sky" to dissuade Bayonne from fighting against the royal troops.

The city continued to be fortified by the kings of France to protect it from danger from the Spanish border. In 1454, Charles VII created a separate judicial district: the Seneschal of Lannes a "single subdivision of Guyenne during the English period" which had jurisdiction over a wide area including Bayonne, Dax and Saint-Sever and which exercised civil justice, criminal jurisdiction within the competence of the district councilors. Over time, the "Seneschal of the Sword" which was at Dax lost any role other than protocol and Bayonne, along with Dax and Saint-Sever, became the de facto seat of a separate Seneschal under the authority of a "lieutenant-general of the Seneschal".

In May 1462 King Louis XI authorized the holding of two annual fairs by letters patent after signing the Treaty of Bayonne after which it was confirmed by the coutoumes of the inhabitants in July 1472 following the death of Charles de Valois, Duke de Berry, the king's brother.

At the time the Spanish Inquisition raged in the Iberian Peninsula Spanish and Portuguese Jews fled Spain and also later, Portugal, then settled in Southern France, including in Saint-Esprit (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), a northern district of Bayonne located along the northern bank of the Adour river. They brought with them chocolate and the recipe for its preparation. In 1750, the Jewish population in Saint-Esprit (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) is estimated to have reached about 3,500 people.

The golden age of the city ended in the 15th century with the loss of trade with England and the silting of the port of Bayonne created by the movement of the course of the Adour to the north.

At the beginning of the 16th century Labourd suffered the emergence of the plague. Its path can be tracked by reading the Registers. In July 1515 the city of Bayonne was "prohibited to welcome people from plague-stricken places" and on 21 October, "we inhibit and prohibit all peasants and residents of this city [...] to go Parish Bidart [...] because of the contagion of the plague". On 11 April 1518 the plague raged in Saint-Jean-de-Luz and the city of Bayonne "inhibited and prohibited for all peasants and city inhabitants and other foreigners to maintain relationships at the location and Parish of Saint-Jean-de-Luz where people have died of the plague". On 11 November 1518 plague was present in Bayonne to the point that in 1519 the city council moved to the district of Brindos (Berindos at the time) in Anglet.

In 1523, Marshal Odet of Foix, Viscount of Lautrec resisted the Spaniards under Philibert of Chalon in the service of Charles V and lifted the siege of Bayonne. It was at Château-Vieux that the ransom demand for the release of Francis I, taken prisoner after his defeat at the Battle of Pavia, was gathered.Cite error 3; Invalid call; invalid keys, e.g. too many or wrong key specified

The meeting in 1565 between Catherine de Medici and the envoy of Philip II: the Duke of Alba, is known as the Interview of Bayonne. At the time that Catholics and Protestants tore each other apart in parts of the kingdom of France, Bayonne seemed relatively untouched by these troubles. An iron fist from the city leaders did not appear to be unknown. In fact they never hesitated to use violence and criminal sanctions for keeping order in the name of the "public good". Two brothers, Saubat and Johannes Sorhaindo who were both lieutenants of the mayor of Bayonne in the second half of the 16th century, perfectly embody this period. They often wavered between Catholicism and Protestantism but always wanted to ensure the unity and prestige of the city.

In the 16th century the king's engineers, under the direction of Louis de Foix, were dispatched to rearrange the course of the Adour by creating an estuary to maintain the river bed. The river discharged in the right place to the Ocean on 28 October 1578. The port of Bayonne then attained a greater level of activity. Fishing for cod and whale ensured the wealth of fishermen and shipowners.

From 1611 to 1612 the college Principal of Bayonne was a man of 26 years old with a future: Cornelius Jansen known as Jansénius, the future Bishop of Ypres. Bayonne became the birthplace of Jansenism, an austere science which strongly disrupted the monarchy of Louis XIV.

During the sporadic conflicts that troubled the French countryside from the mid 17th century, Bayonne peasants were short of powder and projectiles. They attached the long hunting knives in the barrels of their muskets and that way they fashioned makeshift spears later called bayonets. In that same century, Vauban was charged by Louis XIV to fortify the city. He added a citadel built on a hill overlooking the district of San Espirit Cap deou do Punt.

French Revolution and Empire

Activity in Bayonne peaked in the 18th century. The Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1726. Trade with Spain, the Netherlands, the Antilles, the cod fishery off the shores of Newfoundland, and construction sites maintained a high level of activity in the port.

In 1792, the district of Saint-Esprit (that revolutionaries renamed Port-de-la-Montagne) located on the right bank of the Adour, was separated from the city and renamed Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It was reunited with Bayonne on 1 June 1857. For 65 years the autonomous commune was part of the department of Landes.

In 1808, at the Château of Marracq the act of abdication of the Spanish king Charles IV in favour of Napoleon was signed under the "friendly pressure" of the Emperor. In the process the Bayonne Statute was initialed as the first Spanish constitution.

Also in 1808 the French Empire imposed on the Duchy of Warsaw the Convention of Bayonne to buy from France the debts owed to it by Prussia. The debt, amounting to more than 43 million francs in gold, was bought at a discounted rate of 21 million francs.[2] However, although the duchy made its payments in installments to France over a four-year period, Prussia was unable to pay it (due to a very large indemnity it owed to France resulting from Treaties of Tilsit), causing the Polish economy to suffer heavily.

Trade was the wealth of the city in the 18th century but suffered greatly in the 19th century, severely sanctioned by conflict with Spain, its historic trading partner in the region. The Siege of Bayonne marked the end of the period with the surrender of the Napoleonic troops of Marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soult who were defeated by the coalition led by Wellington on 5 May 1814.

19th and 20th Centuries

In 1854, the railway arrived from Paris bringing many tourists eager to enjoy the beaches of Biarritz. Bayonne turned instead to the steel industry with the forges of the Adour. The Port took on an industrial look but its slow decline seemed inexorable in the 19th century. The discovery of the Lacq gas field restored a certain dynamism.

The Treaty of Bayonne was concluded on 2 December 1856. It overcame the disputes in fixing the Franco-Spanish border in the area extending from the mouth of the Bidassoa to the border between Navarre and Aragon.

The city built three light railway lines to connect to Biarritz at the beginning of the 20th century. The most direct line, that of the Tramway Bayonne-Lycée–Biarritz was operated from 1888 to 1948. In addition a line further north served Anglet, operated by the Chemin de fer Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz company from 1877 to 1953. Finally a line following the Adour to its mouth and to the Atlantic Ocean by the bar in Anglet, was operated by VFDM réseau basque from 1919 to 1948.

On the morning of 23 December 1933, sub-prefect Anthelme received Gustave Tissier, the director of the Crédit Municipal de Bayonne. He responded well, with some astonishment, to his persistent interview. It did not surprise him to see the man unpacking what became the scam of the century.

"Tissier, director of the Crédit Municipal, was arrested and imprisoned under suspicion of forgery and misappropriation of public funds. He had issued thousands of false bonds in the name of Crédit Municipal [...]"

This was the beginning of the Stavisky Affair which, together with other scandals and political crises, led to the Paris riots of 6 February 1934.

The World Wars

The 249th Infantry Regiment, created from the 49th Infantry Regiment, was engaged in operations in the First World War, including action at Chemin des Dames, especially on the plateau of Craonne. 700 Bayonnaises perished in the conflict.Cite error 3; Invalid call; invalid keys, e.g. too many or wrong key specified A centre for engagement of foreign volunteers was established in August 1914 in Bayonne. Many nationalities were represented, particularly the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Czechs, and the Poles

During the Second World War Bayonne was occupied by the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf from 27 June 1940 to 23 August 1944.

On 5 April 1942 the Allies made a landing attempt in Bayonne but after a barge penetrated the Adour with great difficulty, the operation was canceled.

On 21 August 1944, after blowing up twenty ships in port, German troops withdrew. On the 22nd a final convoy of five vehicles passed through the city. It transported Gestapo Customs agents and some elements of the Feldgendarmerie. One or more Germans opened fire with machine guns killing three people. On the 23rd there was an informal and immediate installation of a "special municipal delegation" by the young deputy prefect Guy Lamassoure representing the Provisional Government of the French Republic which had been established in Algiers since 27 June.


External links

  • For more information, see the FR Wikipedia article Bayonne.

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