Narbonne's Short History
Narbonne - the "First Daughter of Rome outside Italy" - how is written on the traffic circle of its entrance is a town of a little over 50,000 inhabitants situated in Aude department.
Narbonne was founded in 118 BC by the Roman consul Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus - the first Roman colony in Gaul - under the name Colonia Narbo Martius.
At the time of its creation the town was to be a major stop on Via Domitia, the route that was linking Rome to the Iberic peninsula, whose remains are still visible today
During the 1st century BC Narbonne becomes a flourishing Mediterranean and the capital of the province of Narbonnaise.
In the 4th century AD the Latin poet Ausone was writing about Narbonne: "It is to you that the seas of the East and the Iberian ocean pour their goods and their treasures for you is that fleets sail on the waters of Libya and Sicily: and all vessels loaded in all directions which run the rivers and seas, all that navigates in the entire universe comes to addressing your banks."
As the Roman Empire fell into decline the Narbonne region was conquered by the Visigoth tribes in the 5th century AD and was even the capital of the Visigoth kingdom briefly during the 6th century AD.
During the first centuries after the Edict of Milan, in 313, that legalizes Christianity and makes it official religion of the Roman Empire, the Narbonne region is reached by the Christian missionaries - the first evangelists to come are Saint Paul (de Narbonne) and Saint Aphrodise (de Beziers) - and becomes an ecclesiastic province ruled by the archbishop that shares the power with the Viscount. This joint leadership is to last until the end of the Middle Ages.
Due to its situation as a maritime port, its local leather and wool industry Narbonne that is also spared by the Crusade against the Cathars flourishes and reaches a population of around 30,000 inhabitants in the middle of the 14th century*.
At the beginning of the 14th century the Jewish population of the town, actively involved in the thriving commerce, is expulsed. In 1320 the river Aude, breaks its dams, floods the fields around Narbonne and changes its course. The old river bed becomes a pestilent swamp that pollutes the town. The town suffers along with the whole Europe from the Black Death epidemic of 1348-1350 and is devastated in 1355 by the raids of the English troops led by the Black Prince. These events bring about the decline of Narbonne as a prosperous city.
In 1790 the town is also stripped of its rang as Archbishoprics and becomes only a Bishoprics title that is taken again in 1801.
In the 20th century the city of Narbonne is prosperous again this time due to the wine industry of the region.
* Jacqueline Caille, Medieval Narvonne, a city at the heart of the troubadour world.