Agen's Short History
With around 33600 inhabitants Agen, the departmental capital of Lot-et-Garronne - Aquitaine region- is considered the 244 town of France.
The city has 33 historic monuments and protected buildings.
The origin of Agen date from the pre-roman times when it was the city of Aginnum inhabited by the Celtic population called Nitiobroges.
During the Roman occupation of Aquitaine Agen, between the 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, Agen was Civitas Agenensium a flourishing Roman city.
The development of the city was interrupted by the invasion of the migratory populations of the 5th and 6th centuries and later in the 8th century the one of the Moors.
Starting from the first half of the 11th century Agen becomes a part of the Dukedom of Aquitaine and as such follows in the 12th century its famous duchess, Eleanor of Aquitaine, to become first part of the kingdom of France at Eleanor's first marriage to King Louis VII of France and in 1152, after this first marriage is annulled, to the English Crown at the duchess' second marriage to King Henri II Plantagenet.
These evens mark for Agen as well as the rest of Aquitaine the start of three centuries of hands changing between the French and the English.
This is also a time when the first cathars of what is now the South West of France emerge together of course with the first accusations of heresy and stake burning that take place on what is now known as Place of Gravier in Agen.
In 1236 Agen sees its last Cathar Bishop, Vigoureaux de Barcelone, also burned at the stake.
In 1453 after the battle of Castillon that effectively ended the Hundred Years War, the French took definitive possession of Agen and its region.
In the century that elapses between the end of the Hudread Years War and the Religious Wars in France 1562–1598 the Agenais region experiences a relative boom period due to the development of the agriculture.
In 1531 one of Agen's most famous inhabitants, Nostradamus, settles there to practice medicine.
During the religious wars Agen is always loyal to the King of France and the Catholic party and in the 1585 becomes even the bastion of the Catholic League - the ultra-Catholics - under the leadership of Queen Marguerite (Countess of Agen) wife of the Huguenot Henri de Navarre! Starting from 1681 Agen owes its prosperity to the Canal du Midi, the water way that links the town to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. This new opportunity triggers also a wave of immigration of the local population to the New World, many returning back to their native land after making their fortunes in America.
The famous "pruneau d'Agen", the dried plum that became later the emblem of Agen, was sold to the sailors crossing the ocean that were eating it to avoid scurvy.
During the 18th and 19th centuries the town remained mostly a rural community.
Between 1839 and 1849 the "Agenais" built, what is now one of the most important tourist attractions of their city: the channel-bridge. A veritable work of art, this water bridge, part of the Channel of the Two Seas, is with its 23 arches and its length of 539 meters the second longest channel-bridge in France.