This region has been inhabited for over 400,000 years, as proven by the remains of what is considered to be the first European, the Man of Tautavel.
Like in other parts of Western Europe, different ethnic groups, such as the Celts,would come to settle here. The Greeks visited whereasthe Romans,Vandals, Visigoths and Moors conquered.For a brief spell, this was part of the Kingdoms of Toledo and Granada.
In the midst of this turbulent history, the Roman period stands out under the name of Septimanie, a word that conjures up dreams of a bygone era. From what we know from medieval poems and prose, Septimanie referred to the part of the Roman Empire that is now the south of France. It covered the seven provinces or dioceses - hence the name – that would later give rise to the Duchy of Toulouse. It then became Occitanie, spreading from Beaucaire to Toulouse. It was Christianised by St. Sermin and fell under the Kingdoms of Aragon and then Barcelona.
Having become Catalan, it would reach its heyday under the kings of Majorca, whose palace may be visited in Perpignan. Following the Crusade against the Cathars, it would be absorbed into France, but under a split administration. Montpellier would be sold to France, and the kingdom of Majorca annexed to Aragon.
In spite of all the geopolitical changes it underwent along the years, modern-day Catalonia, on both sides of the Spanish-French border, teems with life, united by language and by its folk traditions.
En Pays Catalan