Thursday, January 30, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 127

Narbonne, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Usually I have several postcards ready and waiting for a few weeks ahead.  This week I thought I’d take one from the stack and move it forward.  My oldest grandson is currently serving an LDS mission in southern France (the France Lyon Mission).  At the present time he is living in Narbonne, France and sent this postcard with views of the city and the shield or coat of arms at the lower right corner.  I wanted to know a little more about the city and thought perhaps some of his cousins would like to see where he is and learn a little about this area of France too, hence today’s postcard choice.

Narbonne is in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France and is just a little over 500 US miles from Paris and about 9 miles from the Mediterranean Sea.  It is a very old city once called Colonia Narbo Martius established in 118 BC on the first Roman road in Gaul.  It was a major city during the time of the Romans and for many hundreds of years afterward as it was an important crossroads connecting Italy and Spain and leading toward the Atlantic Ocean through Toulouse and Bordeaux.  Julius Caesar gave land in the area to survivors of his Legio X Equestris.  At one time it became the capital of southern Gaul.  For 40 years during the 700s it was part of the Emirate of Cordoba.  Then in 759 Pepin the Short conquered the city and took it from the Muslims.  About this same time prominent Jews from Baghdad were encouraged to settle in Narbonne to establish a major Jewish learning center for Western Europe.  Because of this Narbonne was frequently mentioned in connection with its Talmudic scholars.

The city experienced a general decline beginning in the 12th and 13th centuries.   By the 14th century Narbonne was no longer a major route to the sea due in part to a huge river flood in 1320, silt accumulation and the Aude River eventually changing its course.  A series of events beginning with the raid of Edward, the Black Prince in the early 1340s and the subsequent devastation that brought was followed by the Black Death or bubonic plague of 1348/1349 that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.  

The upper middle picture on the postcard shows the Narbonne Cathedral of St. Justus and St. Pastor.  This cathedral was an ambitious project that was never completed as the misfortunes of the city, illness and war took their tolls.  It was interesting to note that if the cathedral had been completed as designed part of the city wall would have needed to be demolished.  It is still one of the tallest cathedrals in France and although it is no longer the seat of a bishop or archbishop it remains a primary place of worship for Roman Catholics with the choir, side chapels, sacristy, and courtyard still intact.

Beginning in the 16th century the people of Narbonne began to re-establish access to the sea via the Aude River by building the Canal de la Robine.  The canal runs through the center of the city and a portion of the canal can be seen in the lower left picture on the card. 

Narbonne is famous for its rosemary flower honey that was popular among the Romans. 

For more information about Narbonne, see:

I write to my grandson often but know that his time to respond is very limited.  His main letter writing is to his parents who then post his letters on a blog.  I was, therefore, very surprised and pleased to get the postcard.  He writes wonderful letters and often includes photographs.  To read his letters from Narbonne, see:

Just a note about the stamp on the card--France is known as a fashion center with many famous clothing designers.  The stamp shows the mannequins or dressmaker’s models used when sewing garments.

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