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History of Limousin

The foothills of the Massif Central may seem an unlikely region for settlements to grow, but the region of Limousin has witnessed civilisations take up residence here for millennia. Over the ages, visitors have come and gone, leaving their mark on the landscape in the form of majestic structures, yet there has been no ruinous effect on the natural splendour of the region, whose stunning beauty and isolated setting make it a destination like no other.

Ancient history

Among the earliest-known inhabitants of the region were a Celtic tribe known as the Lemovices, from whom the area takes its name, and who settled in the land that surrounds modern day Limoges. With the conquering of Gaul by the Roman Empire, much of the nation felt its influence across every part of life. Yet for the Lemonvices, whose territory became part of the province of Aquitania, the occupation of the Limousin was relatively undisturbed.

Following the demise of Roman influence across Europe, control over Limousin would fall to the Merovingian and then Carolingian Franks, before the region’s division into a number of seigneuries controlled as a feudal society.

Middle Ages

This division would see the counts of Limousin rule their own territory independently, leading to the first of many grand châteaux being constructed throughout the 11th century and beyond. One such château became infamous in 1199 as being the death place of one of the great heroes of the Middle Ages.

During Richard the Lionheart’s sorties into the territories of southern France, the English king would laid seige to the Château de Chalus-Chabrol to suppress an uprising by Viscount Aimar V of Limoges. Here Richard was fatally wounded and his body laid to rest. A later battle between French and English for control of Limousin occurred during the Hundred Years’ War, with the English finally expelled following heavy fighting across the region.

Industrial influence

Royal control of Limousin was ultimately achieved in 1607, and the following centuries began to see growth thanks to the high profile porcelain industry. Still revered today, the porcelain and ceramic products from Limoges brought wealth to the region, while the agricultural influence – not least of the famous Limousin cattle breed – on the area has been significant to the continued success of the economy.

In more modern times, Limousin has embraced the tourism industry, with its fabulous châteaux, and the porcelain and textile industries, offering visitors tradition and artistry in equal measure.