The Celts are an indigenous people of central Europe with large numbers in the United Kingdom, in France, and in Ireland where they are in the majority.

The first literary reference to the Celtic people as keltoi or hidden people, is by the Greek Hecataeus in 517 BC.

“Celt” is pronounced /kelt/, and “celtic” as /keltIk/ (in SAMPA). The pronunciation /seltIk/ should only be used for certain sports teams (eg. Boston Celtics NBA team).

Read More »


The caves of Lascaux, in France, contain some of the earliest known representational art, dating to between 17,000 and 15,000 years before the present.

These Paleolithic cave paintings consist mostly of realistic images of large animals, most of which are known from fossil evidence to have lived in the area at the time. The other common theme of the paintings is outlines of the human hand.

Read More »


The Basques are an indigenous people who inhabit parts of both Spain and France. They are found predominantly in four provinces in Spain and three in France. This area is to be found around the western edge of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay.

Read More »

Wars of Religion

The religious wars began with overt hostilities in 1562 and lasted until the Edict of Nantes in 1598. It was warfare that devastated a generation, although conducted in rather desultory, inconclusive way. Although religion was certainly the basis for the conflict, it was much more than a confessional dispute.

“Une foi, un loi, un roi”

Read More »


Vercingetorix (died 46 BC), chieftain of the Arverni, led the great Gallic revolt against the Romans in 53 and 52 BC. His name in Gaulish means “over-king” (ver-rix) of warriors (cingetos).

As described in Julius Caesar’s Gallic_Wars, Rome had secured domination over the Celtic tribes beyond the Provincia Narbonensis (modern day Provence) through a careful strategy of divide and conquer. Vercingetorix ably unified the tribes, adopted the policy of retreating to natural fortifications, and undertook an early example of scorched_earth methods by burning the towns to prevent the Roman legions from living off the land.

Read More »

Albigensian Crusade

The Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229) was part of the Roman Catholic Church’s efforts to crush the Cathars.

The Cathars were especially numerous in southern France, in the region of Languedoc. They were termed Albigensians because of the movements presence in and around the city of Albi. Political control in Languedoc was split amongst many local lords and town councils, the area was relatively lightly oppressed and reasonably advanced.

Read More »


Catharism was a Gnostic heretical movement that originated around the middle of the 12th century AD. It existed throughout much of Western Europe, but its home was in Languedoc, in southern France. The name Cathars probably originated from catharos, the pure ones, maybe also from cattus cat which they were supposed to sexually abuse during their ceremonies, and one of the first recorded uses is Eckbert von Schönau who wrote on heretics from Cologne in 1181: Hos nostra germania catharos appellat The Cathars are also called Albigensians, this name originates from the end of the 12th century, and was used in 1181 by the chronicler Geoffroy de Vigeois.

Read More »

Bourbon Dynasty

House of Bourbon

Descended from France’s ruling Capetian dynasty, the house of Bourbon became monarchs of France, Spain and southern Italy.

The Bourbon Dynasty owes its name to the marriage (1268) of Robert, count of Clermont, sixth son of king Louis IX of France, to Beatrice, heiress to the lordship of Bourbon. Their son Louis was made duke of Bourbon in 1327. Though his line was dispossessed of the dukedom after two centuries, a junior line of the family went on to gain the crown of Navarre (1555) and of France (1589).

Read More »

Valois Dynasty

The Valois Dynasty succeeded the Capetian Dynasty as rulers of France. They were descendants of Charles of Valois, the second son of King Philip III of France.

  • Philippe VI, the Fortunate 1328-1350
    Jean II, the Good 1350-1364
    Charles V, the Wise 1364-1380
    Charles VI, the Well-Beloved 1380-1422
    Charles VII, the Victortius 1422-1461
    Louis XI 1461-1483
    Charles VIII , the Affable 1483-1498
    Louis XII, the Father of His People 1498-1515
    François I — 1515-1547
    Henri II — 1547-1559
    François II — 1559-1560
    Catherine de Medici (Regent) — 1560-1563
    Charles IX — 1560-1574
    Henri III — 1574-1589

The Bourbon Dynasty followed.

Read More »


Gallia (in English Gaul) is the Roman name for the region of western Europe occupied by present-day France, Belgium, western Switzerland and the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. In English the word Gaul also means one of the inhabitants of that region in ancient times.

The Gauls sacked Rome circa 390 BC, destroying all Roman historical records to that point.

Roman rule in Gaul was established by Julius Caesar, who defeated the Celtic tribes in Gaul 58-51 BC and described his experiences in De Bello Gallico, which means Of the Gallic War. The war cost the lives of more than a million Gauls, and a million further were enslaved.

Read More »