FRANCE - BORDEAUX HISTORY
A Celtic tribe, the Biturige Vivisci, founded the city of Bordeaux and
named it Burdigala. The city fell under Roman rule around 60 BC.
The city was plundered by the troops of Abd er Rahman in 732, after he
had defeated Duke Eudes and before he was killed during the Battle of
Tours on October 10. It was later plundered by the Vikings and
it suffered a succession of barbaric invasions—by the Vandals,
Wisigothics, Francs and Normans—until the 12th century.
Following the marriage of Duchess Alienor (Eleonor in English)
d'Aquitaine with the French speaking Count Henri Plantagenet, born in Le
Mans, who became, within months of their wedding, King Henry II of
England, the town came under English control.
The “English Era” of Bordeaux lasted for three centuries, a period
during which the town began to grow. The exportation of wine to England
in the 13th century gave Bordeaux its reputation in the wine trade. The
town reached its apogee under Edouard de Woodstock. English ownership
gradually dwindled, and by 1453 represented only a small band which
extended from Bordeaux to Biarritz. After the Hundred Years War, as a
result of the battle of Castillon, Bordeaux fell back under the
authority of the king of France. The town only regained its sovereignty
in 1462. Louis XIV gave Bordeaux the definitive status of a town in the
kingdom of France.
The 18th century was its golden age, because of the wine trade with
England and Germany and the trades with the West Indies. Many downtown
buildings (about 5,000), including those on the quays are from this
period. Victor Hugo found the town so beautiful he once said: " take
Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux". Baron Haussmann, a long
time prefect of Bordeaux, used Bordeaux' 18th century big scale
rebuilding as a model when he was asked by Emperor Napoleon III to
transform a then still quasi-medieval Paris into a "modern" capital that
would make France proud.
Like most cities in France, Bordeaux was hit by the French Revolution
and its consequences of Terror and the Empire. Trade suffered and did
not get back into full swing until the middle of the 19th century with
the sale of groundnuts. Once again Bordeaux became a commercial and
industrial centre. Unfortunately, phylloxera, a disease which infects
vines, had devastating consequences on Bordeaux's vineyards. At the
beginning of the 20th century, the town experienced a resurgence as a
result of weaponry.
The French government withdrew to the city during the wars of 1870, WWI
and WW II . At the end of World War II, Jacques
Chaban-Delmas, the radical socialist MP from Gironde, became the mayor
of Bordeaux in 1947 and remained in the position until the town
elections of 1995, when Alain Juppe succeeded him. Jaques Chaban Delmas
was mayor of the town for almost 50 years.