Dordogne

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Dordogne (Occitan: Dordonha) is a départment in south-west France. The départment is located in the region of Aquitaine, between the Loire valley and the High Pyrénées named after the great river Dordogne that runs through it. It roughly corresponds with the ancient county of Périgord.

Contents

History

The county of Périgord dates back to when the area was inhabited by the Gauls, it was home to four tribes, the name for "four tribes" in the Gaulish language was "Petrocore". The area eventually became known as the county of Le Périgord and its inhabitants became known as the Périgordins (or Périgourdins). There are four Périgords in the Dordogne: the "Périgord Vert" (Green Périgord) with its main town of Nontron, consists of verdant valleys in a region crossed by many rivers and streams; the "Périgord Blanc" (White Périgord) situated around the department's capital of Périgueux, is a region of limestone plateaux, wide valleys and meadows; the "Périgord Pourpre" (Purple Périgord) with its capital of Bergerac, is a wine region; and the "Périgord Noir" (Black Périgord) surrounding the administrative center of Sarlat, overlooks the valleys of the Vézère and the Dordogne, where the woods of oak and pine give it its name.

The Petrocores took part in the resistance against Rome. Concentrated in two or three major sites are the vestiges of the Gallo-Roman period - the gigantic ruined tower and arenas in Périgueux (formerly Vesone), the Périgord museum's archaeological collections, villa remains in Montcaret and the Roman tower of La Rigale Castle in Villetoureix. The first cluzeaux, or artificial caves either above or below ground, are found throughout the Dordogne. These subterranean refuges and lookout huts could shelter entire populations. According to Julius Caesar the Gauls took refuge there.

Since the Guienne province had returned to the Crown under the Plantagenets following the re-marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152, Périgord passed by right under English suze-rainty. Being situated at the boundaries of influence of the monarchies of France and England, it was to oscillate between the two dynasties for a long time. Over three hundred years of struggle until 1453 and the end of the Hundred Years' War were to tear apart and, as a consequence, model its physiognomy.

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