views updated Jun 11 2018

Gascony. French region lying between the river Garonne and the Pyrenees. In the 11th cent. it was acquired by the dukes of Aquitaine; the 1152 marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry II meant that it passed into the hands of the kings of England. As a result of military defeats suffered in John's reign, from the early 13th cent. onwards the duchy of Aquitaine generally consisted of little but Gascony. Except in the 1290s and 1330s the English spent little time and money on Gascony— Edward I was the last reigning king to visit it—but Gascon appreciation of the value of the English market for the Bordeaux wine trade, and their sense that Paris represented a greater threat to their traditional independence and way of life than did Westminster, meant that the duchy long remained loyal to the English crown. However, the total disarray of Henry VI's government following the sudden collapse of English Normandy in 1450 allowed the triumphant Charles VI of France to walk into Gascony virtually unopposed. An expeditionary force under Talbot (Shrewsbury) briefly took advantage of Gascon resentment of French rule, but in 1453 his defeat and death at Castillon marked the end of English Gascony.

John Gillingham


views updated May 21 2018


GASCONY , a duchy under English rule from 1152 to 1453, and later (with Guyenne) a province of the kingdom of France. There have been Jews in Gascony from at least the fourth century, especially in *Bordeaux. From 1242 or earlier the English ruler appointed special judges over the Jews, who were particularly numerous in *Agen and its vicinity. A first expulsion order was issued in 1289, even before the expulsion from England itself. Debts owing to the Jews were confiscated and collected at half their value for the king's treasury. Royal agents were appointed to seize the Jews and their belongings. However, the expulsion order was not vigorously enforced or rapidly became obsolete, for in 1292 there were again Jews in Gascony; the king ordered their expulsion once more. In 1305 they returned and must this time have obtained official authorization since in 1308 a judge was again in charge of Jewish affairs. A further expulsion order followed in 1310, which was repeated in 1313 and 1316. However, there were Jews in Gascony in 1320, when they were massacred by the *Pastoureaux. Some Jews were still found in Bordeaux until at least 1362. Jews bearing the surname of Gascon may have originated from there. Marrano refugees from Spain took refuge in this region from the close of the 15th century. Through them the Bordeaux community later became important again.


Gross, Gal Jud, 144–5; E. Gaullieur, in: rej, 11 (1885), 78–100; I. Rosenthal, in: paajr, 26 (1957), 127–34; Ch. Bemond and Y. Renouard (eds.), Rôles Gascons, 2 (1900), nos. 1067, 1128, 1181, 1192; 3 (1906), nos. 2054, 4786; 4 (1962), nos. 246, 488, 489, 490, 1127, 1138, 1233, 1670; Ch. Samaran, La Gascogne dans… Trésor des Chartes (1966), nos. 43, 44, 428; H.G. Richardson, English Jewry under Angevin Kings (1960), 225–7, 232–3.

[Bernhard Blumenkranz]


views updated Jun 27 2018

Gascony a region and former province of SW France, in the northern foothills of the Pyrenees, which having united with Aquitaine in the 11th century, was held by England between 1154 and 1453.

Gascons were traditionally said to be braggarts and boasters as well as impetuous (D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers is a Gascon). Gasconade is a poetic and literary term for extravagant boasting, and comes ultimately from French gasconner ‘talk like a Gascon, brag’.


views updated May 23 2018

Gascony Former province in sw France, bounded to the s by the Pyrenees and to the w by the Bay of Biscay. Part of Roman Gaul, it was later overrun by the Visigoths and the Franks. In the 6th century, it was conquered by the Vascones. It passed to Aquitaine in the 11th century. In 1154, Gascony fell to the English. It was a major battleground in the Hundred Years' War, and was finally restored to France in 1453.