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Aquitaine (French pronunciation: [akitɛn]; Occitan: Aquitània; Basque: Akitania), archaic Guyenne/Guienne (Occitan: Guiana), is one of the 26 regions of France, in the south-western part of metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It comprises the 5 departments of Dordogne, Lot et Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes and Gironde. In the Middle Ages Aquitaine was a kingdom and later a duchy, with boundaries considerably larger than the modern ones.



Ancient Age

There are traces of human settlement by prehistoric peoples, especially in the Périgord, but the earliest attested inhabitants in the south-west were the Aquitani, who were not proper Celtic people, but more akin to the Iberians (see Gallia Aquitania). The original Aquitania (named after the inhabitants) comprised at the time of Caesar's conquest of Gaul the area bounded by the Garonne River, the Pyrenees and the Atlantic ocean. The name may stem from Latin 'aqua', maybe derived from the town "Aquae Augustae", "Aquae Tarbellicae" or just "Aquis" (Dax, Akize in modern Basque) or as a more general geographical feature.

Under Augustus' Roman rule, since 27 BC the province of Aquitania was further stretched to the north till the River Loire, so including proper Gaul tribes along with old Aquitani south of the Garonne (cf. Novempopulania and Gascony) within the same region. In 392, the Roman imperial provinces were restructured and Aquitania Prima, Aquitania Secunda and Aquitania Tertia (or Novempopulania) were established in south-western Gaul.

Early Middle Ages

Accounts on Aquitania during the Early Middle Ages are blurry, lacking accuracy, but there was much unrest. The Visigoths were called into Gaul as foederati, but eventually established themselves as the de-facto rulers in south-west Gaul as central Roman rule collapsed. The Visigoths established their capital in Toulouse, but their actual tenure on Aquitaine was feeble. Furthermore, in 507 they were expelled south to Hispania after their defeat in the Battle of Vouillé by the Franks, who became the new rulers in the area.

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