Historically, the Duchy of Gascony extended across the south west of France from the Garonne river to the Atlantic ocean and as far up as Bordeaux, but excluding the counties of Bearn and the Pays Basque. Vassal to the French crown since the conquest of Clovis in the 5th Century, Gascony only briefly flirted with independence in the 8th Century when Duke Gaifre attempted to form a separate Gascon state.
A century after Gaifre's rebellion was crushed, the Duchy of Gascony was split into separate counties (including Chalosse, Armagnac, Comminges and Bigorre) only for the Duchy to be reformed when the English royal family held possession of the territory from 1154 to 1450. One of the results of the English occupation was the increased production of wine in the region, a form of agriculture that had originally been introduced by the Romans and for the same reason - export to the mother country.
After 1450 the east of Gascony, now part of Guyenne, was under the control of the Armagnacs, who gave their name to the splendid brandy of the area. But the Armagnacs political quarrels with other French nobility lead to the mysterious deaths of two Counts and, in 1473, Armagnac was confiscated by Louis XI of France thus becoming a crown province. The General Estates of Auch were created in 1716, identifying Gascony as the area currently known as Gers with Auch as its capital.
Separated from the Pyrénées by Comminges and Bigorre, the scenery is more that of rolling hills and glacier formed flat valleys. Yet there are views of the Pyrénées from the southern hills. The towns and villages of Gascony tend to be small and far apart and the local economy is mainly agricultural - vineyards, cereals, cattle, and of course, ducks and geese for the famous Gascony preserves, pâtés and particularly foie gras.
|Very pleasant city and capital of the Gers|
|A capital of the Armagnac area|
|Picturesque centre of armagnac production|
|Known as the small capital of Armagnac|
|Old bastide town and foie gras centre|
|Vibrant bastide town with major jazz festival and large lake|
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