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date: 21 September 2019

Aigues-Mortes [Lat. aquae mortuae: ‘dead waters’]locked

  • Whitney S. Stoddard

Extract

[Lat. aquae mortuae: ‘dead waters’]

Town in Gard, southern France, in the north-western section of the Rhône Delta or Camargue. It is one of the largest surviving medieval fortified towns. Although documents show that there was a port on the site of Aigues-Mortes in the late 12th century and first third of the 13th, the town was officially not founded until the Charter of 1246, which exempted inhabitants from taxes. Louis IX (reg 1226–70) conceived of the walled city. He wanted a port to establish a royal presence in, and access to, the Mediterranean, and he needed a fortified town to protect crusaders, pilgrims and merchants, providing a safe haven from which to launch crusades, as well as a commercial centre for trade between the Levant and northern France. The only land available for this purpose lay between that owned by the bishop of Maguelonne and king of Aragon (which included the region around Montpellier) on the west, and Provence controlled by Emperor Frederick II on the east. Negotiations with the Benedictine monks of Psalmodi for the acquisition of land for the walled city began in ...

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