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Provinces of France

Provinces of FranceProvinces of France

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The Kingdom of France was organized into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the department (French: département) system superseded provinces.

The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England.

They came into their final form over the course of many hundreds of years, as many dozens of semi-independent fiefs and former independent countries came to be incorporated into the French royal domain. Because of the haphazard manner in which the provinces evolved, each had its own sets of feudal traditions, laws, taxation systems, courts, etc., and the system represented an impediment to effective administration of the entire country from Paris.

During the early years of the French Revolution, in an attempt to centralize the administration of the whole country, and to remove the influence of the French nobility over the country, the entirety of the province system was abolished and replaced by the system of departments in use today.

In some cases, several modern regions or departments share names with the historic provinces, and their borders may cover roughly the same territory.

List of former provinces of France

The list below shows the major provinces of France at the time of their dissolution during the French Revolution. Capital cities are shown in parentheses. Bold indicates a city that was also the seat of a judicial and quasi-legislative body called either a parlement (not to be confused with a parliament) or a conseil souverain (sovereign council). In some cases, this body met in a different city from the capital.

Provinces of France in 1789 relative to the modern borders of FranceNote: The Comtat Venaissin (annexed 1791), Mulhouse (annexed 1798), Montbéliard (annexed 1816), Savoy and Nice (annexed 1860), and small portions of other provinces were not part of the Kingdom of France.

Map showing former provinces (in colours), with modern department boundaries in black

Île-de-France (Paris)
Berry (Bourges)
Orléanais (Orléans)
Normandy (Rouen)
Languedoc (Toulouse)
Lyonnais (Lyon)
Dauphiné (Grenoble)
Champagne (Troyes)
Aunis (La Rochelle)
Saintonge (Saintes)
Poitou (Poitiers)
Guyenne and Gascony (Bordeaux)
Burgundy (Dijon)
Picardy (Amiens)
Anjou (Angers)
Provence (Aix-en-Provence)
Angoumois (Angoulême)
Bourbonnais (Moulins)
Marche (Guéret)
Brittany (Rennes)
Maine (Le Mans)
Touraine (Tours)
Limousin (Limoges)
Foix (Foix)
Auvergne (Clermont-Ferrand)
Béarn (Pau)
Alsace (Strasbourg, conseils souverains in Colmar)
Artois (Arras)
Roussillon (Perpignan)
Flanders and Hainaut (Lille, conseils souverains in Douai)
Franche-Comté (Besançon)
Lorraine (Nancy);
Trois-Évêchés (Three Bishoprics within Lorraine): Metz, Toul and Verdun
Corsica (Ajaccio, conseils souverains in Bastia)
Nivernais (Nevers)

Areas that were not part of the Kingdom of France, though they are currently parts of Metropolitan France

35. Comtat Venaissin, a Papal fief (Avignon)
36. Imperial Free City of Mulhouse
37. Savoy (Chambéry), a Sardinian fief
38. Nice (Nice), a Sardinian fief
39. Montbéliard (Montbéliard), a fief of Württemberg

Coat of Arms of the Provinces of France

See also: Gallery of French coats of arms

Partial display of historical provincial arms:

Alençon 15.
Anjou 28.
Artois 2.
Berry 13.
Burgundy 20.
Brittany 8.
Champagne 7.
Dauphiné 24.
Foix 12.
Gévaudan 32.
Lorraine 21.
Maine 19.
Marche 4.
Normandy 37.
Savoy 22.

See also

Ancien Régime in France

Gallery of French coats of arms

Coat of armsHeraldry

Categories: Former provinces of France

Subdivisions of France