Burgundians - History and Cultural Relations

Earliest traces of human activity in Burgundy date from more than 100,000 years ago; archaeology yields evidence of a considerable hunting (reindeer, horses) and gathering population during the predominantly glacial late Pleistocene (40,000-12,000 B.P. ). After the glaciers retreated, the population developed the mixed farming, horticulture, and husbandry still characteristic of the region today. Earliest literary records, Greek accounts dating from the fifth century B.C.E. , indicate that the Celtic Aedui and their clients held the bulk of what is now Burgundy, engaging in commercial trade, industrial manufacture (especially ironworking), and agriculture. About the time of the Roman conquest in 52 B.C.E. viticulture was introduced. Christianity was well established in Burgundy by the fourth century. After the collapse of Roman hegemony, Burgundy was ruled by the Germanic Burgunds ( A.D. 466-534) and the Frankish Merovingians ( A.D. 534-731), although the latter's control was never absolute and regional authority was periodically reasserted. After the Saracens (Muslim Arabs) sacked Autun in 731, Carolingians held sway until A.D. 955. Control was reasserted by the Capetian dukes, who, along with those of Valois, held sway over Burgundy and then all of France by the fourteenth Century. Burgundy continues to play an important role in national politics: President François Mitterrand began his political career as a deputy from Nièvre.

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