Occitania (historical region)

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Flag of the Occitan Autonomy Movement Coat of arms of the Counts of Toulouse
Flag of the Occitan Autonomy Movement Coat of arms of the Counts of Toulouse
Map of the historical Occitan-speaking area. The most important cities are Lemòtges / Limoges , Bordèu / Bordeaux , Tolosa / Toulouse , Marselha / Marseille and Niça / Nice as well as the unlisted Montpelhièr / Montpellier .

Occitan ( Occitan Occitània [utsi'tanjɔ] , French Occitanie ) is the name of a historic cultural landscape in southwestern Europe. Besides smaller areas in Spain and Italy, the main part is in the southern third of France . The landscape is shaped by its culture and language, Occitan , whose varieties (dialects) are spoken and written alongside the national languages ​​to this day. The name is derived from Occitania , a word that has been used in medieval Latin texts since the end of the 13th century. The first part of the word contains the Occitan affirmative formula òc (see Occitan language ). The ending -ania is possibly an analogy to Aquitania .

The administrative region of Occitania , which was named after the historical region, but only includes part of it, has existed since 2016 .


Although there was never a political unit of Occitania, Occitan as an independent language that is very similar to Catalan was , at least in the past, a strong link for the population of southern France. In recent years, some Occitan towns and villages have reaffirmed their historical legacy. As in Ireland or South Tyrol , place and street signs are again bilingual. The language is spoken and spoken by fewer than two million people in the entire Occitan third of France. Around 78,000 students learn Occitan in eight academies from Nice to Toulouse and Clermont-Ferrand .

The trobadors , Occitan minstrels , and the religious Cathar movement in the Middle Ages were particularly well known . Occitania west of the Rhone is equated with the Cathar country. Even today, the south of France has certain peculiarities in addition to the different climate and different vegetation: Here, as on the Iberian Peninsula , the tradition of bullfighting is maintained, there are culinary traditions, the most widespread sport - especially in the southwest, less so in the region around Marseille - here traditional rugby and not football , and also the pronunciation of French in the " Midi " deviates strongly from the Parisian standard.

Over the centuries there have been initiatives for self-administration and cultural self-assertion. In the 1970s the independent newspaper LUTTE OCCITANE - Occitan as drech a la paraula ( Occitan fight - Occitan, you have the right to speak ) was created. During these decades, resistance was directed against production conditions, which some farmers and winegrowers feel disadvantaged by, and against the conversion of the country into a holiday paradise for tourists.

In 1945 an Occitan cultural institute was founded, the Institut d'Estudis Occitans . It was not officially recognized by the French Ministry of Education until 1986. The Per Noste association for the care of the Occitan language and culture was founded in 1960.

The Partit Occitan sees itself as the regional party of Occitania .


From a prehistoric point of view, the area is divided into different regions, which left their own forms of megalithic evidence. Most of them are likely to belong to the Chassey culture . There are two regions with statue menhirs ( Languedoc , Rouergates ) and eight dolmen areas ( Aquitaine , Ardèche , Grand Causses , Languedoc, Minervois , Pays Basque , Quercy and Roussillon ).

In ancient times, several Celtic tribes (" Gauls ") and other peoples that are difficult to identify divided the south of France. There were also Greek settlements around the Mediterranean, such as: Nice ( Nikea ), Antibes ( Antipolis , okz: Antíbol ) etc. The other non-Celtic tribes were the Ligurians in the east, the Iberians in the west of the Mediterranean coast (French Catalonia ) , the Aquitans and the Basques of southern Aquitaine. Basically, southern France was less Celtized than northern France, with the notable exceptions of Massif Central and Limousin .

In the years 125 to 123 BC, the Romans under Flaccus conquered southern Gaul and named this province Gallia Ulterior and later Narbonensis . With the southern half of the later founded province of Gallia Aquitania , the later area of ​​Occitania was marked out.

Even after the end of the Roman Empire , the locals in the south stuck to Roman culture and consciousness. The cities continued to be ruled by aristocratic families, often descended directly from Roman senators .

The Visigoth Empire at the time of Alaric II.

After they had plundered Rome in 410, the Visigoths under King Athaulf moved through southern Gaul to Spain under constant conflict and from there conquered the southwestern part of Gaul from 418. They established the so-called Tolosan Empire with Toulouse as its capital.

The Goths were defeated in 507 against the Merovingian king Clovis I and lost their empire to the Franks except for Provence and a coastal strip near Narbonne .

The emerging Franconian empire also subjugated these areas in the 6th century. Until the end of the 9th century, Occitania remained largely in the territory of western France ; the center of the empire was in the north in the Île-de-France , which is why the south was able to develop independently.

In 721 Tolosa was besieged by Arabs unsuccessfully for several months at the Battle of Toulouse . Between 781 and 843 Toulouse was the seat of the Kingdom of Aquitaine , after which the independent county of Toulouse was founded . During this time the city was the center of the Languedoc culture.

After belonging to the Carolingian empire , the region became part of the Kingdom of France (987–1792) .

Around the year 1000 , the Occitan language emerged from Latin . It was spoken in various dialects such as Provençal and Gascon . In general, southern France became less Celtic, deeper Romanized, and then less Germanized than northern France.

In the High Middle Ages, shortly before and during the appearance of the Cathar movement, two dynasties shaped the area: on the one hand the Saint-Gilles family as Counts of Toulouse and on the other hand the Trencavel family , who succeeded in becoming vice counts of Albi , Carcassonne , and Béziers to become the Razès .

Although not a colony in the current sense of the word, but with the effect of a migration of Occitans into this enclave, Count Raimund of Toulouse founded the county of Tripoli north of Jerusalem in 1102 as a result of the Crusades . The culture of chivalry never really developed in the south, but in the north (e.g. tournaments never took place in the south of France). In contrast, it was the center of the high culture of the Trobador .

In three crusades against alleged heretics (1209 to 1244), the Occitan core rule of Saint-Gilles in Toulouse and the Trencavel in Carcassonne were conquered by barons from the north of France. The Occitan language and culture was then pushed back.

From the tradition of - even in absolutism and the Jacobins (during the French Revolution derived) - centrally oriented France in the 19th and 20th centuries has been long suppressed a separate identity, Southern France (Occitans) and Northern French merged in the French nation-state to the French nation .


Since 2016, " Occitanie " (French Occitanie ; Occitan and Catalan Occitània ) has also been the name of the French region resulting from the merger of the Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions, based on a resolution by the regional parliament . Toulouse was designated as their capital. This is the first time that "Occitania" is the name of a political entity. The renaming approved by the regional parliament took place on October 1, 2016.


  1. Occitan pronunciation varies depending on the dialect: [utsiˈtanjɔ, utsiˈtanje, utsiˈtanja, uksiˈtanjɔ, usi'tanjɔ, ukʃiˈtanjɔ, uksiˈtanja, owsi'tani].
  2. Basler Zeitung : Tens of thousands demonstrated for Occitan language ( memento of the original from September 30, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. March 17, 2007 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / baz.ch
  3. L'agonie du languedoc (studio of early music, CD EMI REFLEXE 7243 8 26500 2 7)
  4. Michel le Bris : Occitanie: volem viure! (ed. Gallimard)
  5. Maria Roanet: Maria Roanet (1975, LP VS3L 15 VENTADORN; distribution in Germany by TRIKONT)

Web links

Wiktionary: Occitania  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations