Limoges is the administrative capital of the Limousin area, West-central France. It is also the capital of Haute-Vienne department. The history of Limoges is almost 2000 years old. The excavated evidence points towards a Gaulish settlement before the actual city was created in the 10th century B.C.
In the 10th century B.C the Roman emperor Augustus is said to have founded the city along the typical Roman fashion. The city had a Roman square, which is at the crossing point of two two main roads. It had, in those days, all the Roman establishments like an amphitheatre, a forum, several baths and sanctuaries. It was named Augustoritum after the emperor Augustus.
Later of course the city was renamed after the original tribe that had occupied it. The tribe’s name was Lemovices and the city was named Limoges and the surrounding area came to be known as Limousin.
By the coming of Saint Martial and his companions in the middle of the 3rd century A.D Limoges turned evangelical. But later, the city was threatened with attacks from the Germanic tribes and hence became extremely unsafe. This made its occupants move away in search of more fortifiable places.
The Limoges history says, Puy Saint-Etienne, which is the center of present Limoges became the first Limoges settlement then. Later by 9th century the Abbey of Saint Martial was established and another settlement gathered around the abbey and was governed by bishops.
The Viscount of Limoges built a castle for himself in the 10th century and naturally a third settlement was formed around the castle. The three settlements were merged in 1792 to form a single Limoges city.
From 11th century onwards Limoges occupied a place in the world history. It flourished as a centre of art and music, thanks to the fabulous library in the Abbey of Saint Martial. The St. martial school of music had a reckonable place in the medieval music.
Limoges prospered with two fortified settlements – the City and the Chateau- and reached its zenith in the 13th century. In 1370 Edward the black prince invaded and sacked the city, which reeled under his attack and was never able to recover completely.
After the formation of the modern Limoges in 1792 it once again suffered under the French revolution. The revolutionaries destroyed everything that seemed to them as the symbol of the old order. Many heritage establishments including the Abbey of Saint Martial fell before the furry of the revolutionaries.
But the discovery of Kaolin clay in a place near Limoges opened a new era of splendor in front of Limoges. The secret of porcelain making, which was so far the monopoly of the Chinese, was revealed to Limoges and it soon became the main center of the Limoges porcelain industry and the main supplier of porcelain objects all through Europe.
The new found affluence prompted serious building activities in Limoges. So during the 19th century the construction of new buildings resulted in the replacement of the old city with the new city. This was inevitable in a way, because of the unhealthy situations created by poverty of the area. Riots and uprisings were very common during that time. During the World war two the Jews from Alsace migrated to the city.
But the modern Limoges is of the 153 cities that are declared as “Ville d’art et d’histoire” (City of Art and History). This is because of the 2000 year old Limoges heritage and its incredible diversity.
Limoges Boxes - lyxury gifts from France!
by Marina Chernyak
H: 1.25" W: 1.75" L: 1.75"
H: 2.25" W: 1.75" L: 2.00"
H: 2.50" W: 1.00" L: 1.00"