Montpellier

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Montpellier

Montpellier (Occitan: Montpelhièr) is a city in southern France. It is the capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, as well as the Hérault department. Montpellier is the 8th largest city of the country, and is also the fastest growing city in France over the past 25 years.[1]

Contents

History

Montpellier is one of the few large cities in France without a (Gallo-)Roman background.

Medieval period

In the Early Middle Ages, the nearby episcopal town of Maguelone was the major settlement in the area, but raids by pirates encouraged settlement a little further inland. Montpellier, first mentioned in a document of 985, was founded under a local feudal dynasty, the Guillem counts of Toulouse, who joined together two hamlets and built a castle and walls around the united settlement. The two surviving towers of the city walls, the Tour des Pins and the Tour de la Babotte are later in date, however. Montpellier came to prominence in the 10th century as a trading centre, with trading links across the Mediterranean world and a rich Jewish cultural life and traditions of tolerance of its Muslims, Jews and Cathars—and later of its Protestants. William VII of Montpellier established a faculty of medicine in 1180, recognised by Pope Nicholas IV; the city's university was established in 1220 and was one of the chief centers for the teaching of medicine. This marked the high point of Montpellier's prominence. The city became a possession of the kings of Aragon in 1213 by the marriage of Peter II of Aragon with Marie of Montpellier, who brought the city as her dowry. Montpellier gained a charter in 1204 when Peter and Marie confirmed the city's traditional freedoms and granted the city the right to choose twelve governing consuls annually. Montpellier remained a possession of the crown of Aragon until it passed to James III of Majorca, who sold the city to the French king Philip VI in 1349, to raise funds for his ongoing struggle with Peter IV of Aragon. In the 14th century, Montpellier gained a church (not yet a cathedral) dedicated to Saint Peter, noteworthy for its very unusual porch supported by two high, somewhat rocket-like towers. With its importance steadily increasing, the city finally gained a bishop, who moved from Maguelone in 1536 and sat in the neighbouring community of Montpelliéret (eventually absorbed into Montpellier proper). In 1432, Jacques Cœur established himself in the city and it became an important economic centre, until 1481 when Marseille took over this role.

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