Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/31

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CHAPTER II

GASCONY


The province of Gascony—Protest against inclusion in Aquitaine—Union of Béarn, Foix, and Bigorre—Navarre—Interest of Gascony to English people—Gascony annexed to the Crown of England—Viscounty of Béarn—The Fors—Independence of the people—A babe with open hands—An elderly wife—John of Béarn's treatment of a Pope—Charles of Viana—Schemes of Juana—Murder of Blanche—The coveted crown—Death of Francis Phœbus—Choiceof a husband—Gascon braggarts.


THE province of Gascony included Labourde, of which Bayonne was the capital; the viscounty of Soule, with Mauleon as its chief town; Basse Navarre; Béarn, a viscounty, with its residential châteaux at Orthez and at Pau, and its cathedrals at Lescar and Oloron; Bigorre, a county with its capital at Tarbes; Cominges, and to the south of that Couserans; and finally the county of Foix, on the frontier of Languedoc.

The whole of this stretch of land was included by Augustus in Aquitaine. This the peoples of Vasconia did not like, and they sent to him an embassy to request that they might be organized into a separate province. To this the emperor agreed. Concerning this transaction history is silent; but we know about it from a Roman inscription at Hasparren, set up by the ambassador, to commemorate his journey and the favourable reply he received.

In the thirteenth century the viscounty of Béarn was

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