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Béarn

Béarn

[bey-ahrn]
Béarn, former province, SW France, in the Pyrenees. It is now the inland part of Pyrénées-Atlantiques dept. Its valleys are well cultivated, and cattle are bred. Pau replaced Orthez as the capital in the 15th cent. The Bearnese are related to the Basques but speak French. Béarn was part of Roman Aquitania. It came (6th cent.) under the control of Gascony and was made (9th cent.) a county. In 1290 it passed to the counts of Foix, who later became kings of Navarre, and in 1484 to the house of Albret. Protestantism was imposed by Jeanne d'Albret. When her son became Henry IV of France, Béarn passed to the crown. However, it remained autonomous until 1620, when Louis XIII annexed it as an anti-Protestant measure. With the Basque districts of French or Lower Navarre, it became a French province under the jurisdiction of the parlement of Navarre, which sat at Pau.
This article is about the former French province, for the warship see French aircraft carrier Béarn
Béarn (Gascon: Bearn or Biarn; Basque: Biarno) is a former province of France, located in the Pyrenees mountains and in the plain at their feet, in southwest France. Along with the three Basque provinces of Soule, Lower Navarre, and Labourd, the principality of Bidache, as well as small parts of Gascony, it forms in the southwest the current département of Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64). Pau was the capital of the former viscountcy of Béarn.

Béarn is bordered by Basque provinces Soule and Lower Navarre to the west, by Gascony (Landes and Armagnac) to the north, by Bigorre to the east, and by Spain (Aragon) to the south.

Today the mainstays of the Béarn area are the petroleum business, the aerospace industry through the helicopter manufacturer Turbomeca, tourism and agriculture. Pau was the birthplace of Elf Aquitaine, which has now become a part of Total petroleum company.

In Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers series, the protagonist d'Artagnan was from Béarn (he mentions having attended his father's funeral there in the second book, Twenty Years After). That d'Artagnan is usually referred to as a Gascon is neither surprising nor incorrect, as Béarn is sometimes considered a part of Gascony.

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