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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Septimania was the western region of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed under the control of the Visigoths in 462, when Septimania was ceded to their king, Theodoric II. Under the Visigoths it was known as simply Gallia or Narbonensis. It corresponded roughly with the former administrative region of Languedoc-Roussillon of modern France. It passed briefly to the Emirate of Córdoba in the eighth century before its conquest by the Franks, who by the end of the ninth century termed it Gothia or the Gothic March (Marca Gothica).

Septimania was a march of the Carolingian Empire and then West Francia down to the thirteenth century, though it was culturally and politically separate from northern France and the central royal government. The region was under the influence of the people from Toulouse, Provence, and ancient County of Barcelona. It was part of the cultural and linguistic region named Occitania that was finally brought within the control of the French kings in the early 13th century as a result of the Albigensian Crusade after which it came under French governors. From the end of the thirteenth century it was known as Languedoc and its history is tied up with that of France.

The name "Septimania" may derive from part of the Roman name of the city of Béziers, Colonia Julia Septimanorum Beaterrae, which in turn alludes to the settlement of veterans of the Roman VII Legion in the city. Another possible derivation of the name is in reference to the seven cities (civitates) of the territory: Béziers, Elne, Agde, Narbonne, Lodève, Maguelonne, and Nîmes. Septimania extended to a line halfway between the Mediterranean and the Garonne River in the northwest; in the east the Rhône separated it from Provence; and to the south its boundary was formed by the Pyrenees.

Muslim Septimania

The Arabs, under Al-Samh ibn Malik, the governor-general of al-Andalus, sweeping up the Iberian peninsula, by 719 overran Septimania; al-Samh set up his capital from 720 at Narbonne, which the Moors called "Arbuna", offering the still largely Arianist Christian inhabitants generous terms and quickly pacifying the other cities. Following the conquest, al-Andalus was divided into five administrative areas, roughly corresponding to present Andalusia, Galicia and Lusitania, Castile and Léon, Aragon and Catalonia, and the ancient province of Septimania. With Narbonne secure, and equally important, its port, for the Arab mariners were masters now of the Western Mediterranean, al-Samh swiftly subdued the largely unresisting cities, still controlled by their Visigoth counts: taking Alet and Béziers, Agde, Lodève, Maguelonne and Nîmes. thumb|300px|Military campaigns around the Pyrenees and Septimania By 721 he was reinforced and ready to lay siege to Toulouse, a possession that would open up bordering Aquitaine to him on the same terms as Septimania. But his plans were thwarted in the disastrous Battle of Toulouse (721), with immense losses, in which al-Samh was so seriously wounded that he soon died at Narbonne. Arab forces, soundly based in Narbonne and easily resupplied by sea, struck in the 720s, conquering Carcassonne on the north-western fringes of Septimania (725) and penetrating eastwards as far as Autun (725).

In 731, the Berber lord of the region of Cerdagne Uthman ibn Naissa, called "Munuza" by the Franks, was an ally of the Duke of Aquitaine Odo the Great after he revolted against Cordova, but the rebel lord was defeated and killed by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, so opening Aquitaine to the Umayyads.

After capturing Bordeaux on the wake of duke Hunald's detachment attempt, Charles Martel directed his attention to Septimania and Provence. While his reasons for leading a military expedition south remain unclear, it seems that he wanted to seal his newly secured grip on Burgundy, now threatened by Umayyad occupation of several cities lying in the lower Rhone, or maybe it provided the excuse he needed to intervene in this territory ruled by Gothic and Roman law, far off from the Frankish centre in the north of Gaul. In 737 the Frankish leader went on to attack Narbonne, but the city held firm, defended by its Goths and Jews under the command of its governor Yusuf, 'Abd er-Rahman's heir. Charles had to go back north without subduing Narbonne, leaving behind a trail of destroyed cities, i.e. Avignon, Nîmes and other Septimanian fortresses.

Around 747 the government of the Septimania region (and the Upper March, from Pyrénées to Ebro River) was given to Umar ibn Umar. In 752 Pippin headed south to Septimania. Gothic counts of Nîmes, Melguelh, Agde and Béziers refused allegiance to the emir at Cordova and declared their loyalty to the Frankish king—the count of Nîmes, Ansemund, having some authority over the remaining counts. The Gothic counts and the Franks then began to besiege Narbonne, where Miló was probably the count (as successor of the count Gilbert). However, the strongly Gothic Narbonne under Muslim rule resisted to the Carolingian thrust. Moreover, attacks on the rearguard by a Basque army under the Aquitanian duke Waifer didn't make things easy to Pippin.

In 754 an anti-Frank reaction, led by Ermeniard, killed Ansemund, but the uprising was without success and Radulf was designated new count by the Frankish court. About 755 Abd ar-Rahman ibn Uqba replaced Umar ibn Umar. Narbonne capitulated in 759 only after Pippin promised the defenders of the city to uphold the Gothic law, and the county was granted to Miló, the Gothic count in Muslim times, thus earning the loyalty of Septimania's Goths against Waifer.

Islamic burials have been found in Nîmes

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Septimania" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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