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Coat of arms of the Bearn
Béarn Province
Pau with the river Gave
Orthez - Pont Vieux

The Béarn is a historic French province at the foot of the Pyrenees . Together with the French Basque Country , it forms the Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64) department.


From a linguistic point of view, Béarn belongs to Occitania , as its traditional language, Béarnais , is a form of Gaskognischen , i.e. Occitan . Romanized Basques , i.e. people of Basque origin with French as their mother tongue (e.g. according to their family name), are sometimes referred to as Béarn Basques in France (see: gascognisch, vasco , Basque).


Béarn, which is rather flat in the north and at heights of approx. 100 to 200  m , but hilly to mountainous in the south, is bounded in the west by the Soule region , in the north-west by the former heather and today's woodland of the Landes and by the region Armagnac , to the east by the Bigorre and to the south by the Pyrenees ; The highest peaks in the region are likely to be the Orhi ( 2017  m ) in the southwest and the Pic du Midi d'Ossau ( 2884  m ) in the southeast. The Gave de Pau with its numerous tributaries and the Gave d'Oloron are the most important rivers in the Béarn; they flow into the Adour , which flows into the Bay of Biscay near Bayonne . The largest cities are Pau (approx. 80,000), Orthez (approx. 11,000), Oloron-Sainte-Marie (approx. 11,000) and Lescar (approx. 10,000).


The Béarn is largely agricultural, with agriculture and viticulture dominating in the north and cattle breeding in the south . In the outskirts of the cities, industrial parks with small and medium-sized companies emerged. A large refinery complex was built in the village of Lacq , based on the natural gas and sulfur deposits discovered here .


Legend has it that the area around the late ancient city ​​of Beneharnum was (re) Christianized around 500 AD by Julianus of Lescar, who was later revered as saint , because the inhabitants had turned to idol worship . In the Middle Ages, Oloron-Sainte-Marie was an important stop on the Way of St. James ( Via Tolosana ) . Johanna III. von Navarra (1528–1572), better known as Jeanne d'Albret , was a devout Protestant and passed her faith on to her son, who later became King Henry IV. In 1583, he founded the Académie protestante du in Orthez Béarn was raised to the rank of university and four years after his accession to the throne (1594) issued the Edict of Nantes , which guaranteed religious freedom to the Huguenots . With the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV (1685) and the ordered expulsion of the Protestants, the Béarn ultimately became Catholic again.


Although the Béarn was included in the Treaty of Verdun (843) in the original borders of the West Franconian Empire , the actual membership in the kingdom was disputed for a long time. While the Béarn belonged to the County of Foix and the Count Gaston Fébus was ready to pay homage to the king for his County Foix, he refused this for the Béarn. Later the province was under the rule of the kings of Navarre . Eventually the Béarn fell to Henry IV through maternal inheritance (simultaneously, albeit theoretically, with the entire Kingdom of Navarre , which was almost entirely annexed by Spain ). After his accession to the throne, he gave in to the constant demand of parliament and formally united the Béarn with the crown domain , because according to tradition, the King of France should not have a personal domain. The final integration of the Béarn with France, however, only took place under Louis XIII. in 1620.

When the edict of Villers-Cotterêts was published (1539), which among other things ordered that all legal acts should be drafted in French (especially at the expense of Latin , but sometimes also the local languages), the province was not yet French, and the edict was not applied to them; thus all legal acts in the Béarn up to the French Revolution were written in Occitan .


The towns of Lescar, Orthez and Pau are particularly worth seeing; the city of Oloron-Sainte-Marie, on the Way of St. James, has an important Romanesque church.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Béarn - Religion