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County of Nice (Traditional province, France)

Comté de Nice

Last modified: 2010-11-12 by ivan sache
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[County of Nice]

Flag of County of Nice - Image by Pierre Gay, 26 May 2003

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History of the County of Nice

The County of Nice (Italian, Nizza), limited by the Mediterranean Sea (south), the Alps mountains (north and east) and the river Var (west), forms the southeasternmost part of France.

Remains of human settlements, dated back to 400,000 years have been found on the fossil beach of Terra Amata, now in the center of the town of Nice. The area was subsequently occupied by the Ligurians, who mixed with the Celts in the 8th century BC to form the Celto-Ligurian civilisation.
In the 4th century BC, Greeks colonists from Massilia ( Marseilles) founded the counter of Nikaia (Nice). In 154 BC, the Romans intervened against the Oxybians and the Deciats, who threatened the colonies of Nikaia and Antipolis (Antibes, on the other side of the river Var). This started the process of Roman colonization, which led to the formation of the Provincia, later Provence. In 6 BP, Emperor Augustus built in La Turbie the Trophy or the Alps, commemorating the pacification of the southern Alps and the submission of the tribes. Augustus previously expelled the Vediantii from their fortress of Cemeneleum (Cimiez), located in the upper part of Nice. The province of Southern Alps was created in 69, with Nice as its capital.

In the 9th century, Provence (then including Nice) became an independent state, nominally vassal of the Holy Roman Empire in 1032. The towns of Grasse and Nice increased their wealth due to commerce with the Italian towns of Pisa and Genoa, elected their own Consuls and hardly recognized the authority of the Count of Provence. In 1166, Count Raymond Béranger III was killed during an expedition against Nice. In 1215, Nice acknowledged the protection of Genoa. Count of Provence Raymond Béranger V eventually submitted Nice in 1229.
In 1380, Countess Joan I of Provence (1348-1382, better known as Queen Jeanne, from several apocryphal stories) adopted Louis of Anjou. Louis' cousin, Charles of Duras (or Durazzo), led the Union of Aix, the Provencal anti-Anjou party, and strangled Jeanne. In 1388, the Anjou party won. Taking advantage of the troubles, Count of Savoy Amadeus VII negociated with John Grimaldi, Governor of Nice, the so-called dédition de Nice, by which Nice and its viguerie (administrative division), the town of Puget-Théniers and the valley of Lantosque formed the terres neuves de Provence (new lands of Provence), also called simply terres de Provence, and were incorporated into Savoy.
The name of County of Nice did not appear before the reign of Charles of Savoy (1504-1553).

In 1543, Nice was besieged by an Ottoman fleet commanded by Barbarossa, following the alliance between the Sultan and King of France Francis I against the German Emperor Charles V. The lower town was seized after twenty days but the last defendors resisted in the castle, causing the Ottoman fleet to withdraw.
In 1614, Duke Charles Emmanuel I established in Nice a free port and a Senate. The revolt of Count of Beuil was stopped in 1621. The County of Nice was relatively stable compared with the neighbouring Provence, where revolts and riots were common. The war between France and Savoy resumed at the end of the 17th century and the County of Nice was occupied by France from 1691 to 1697 and 1707 to 1713.

In 1789, Nice became a center of counter-revolutionary activity. The Southern Army (Armée du Midi) of the French Republic entered Nice on 29 September 1792. On 31 January 1793, the Convention ordered the incorporation of the County of Nice to France as the department of Alpes-Maritimes (Southern Alps). The barbets carried on the struggle against the French occupation in the hinterland of Nice. A place located near the village of Duranus is named Saut des Français (French's Leap) because a group of barbets captured here French soldiers and pushed them down into the river Vésubie.
During the First Empire, Prefet Dubouchage developed Nice with the support of the notables of the town.

On 23 April 1814, the County of Nice was given back to King of Sardinia Victor Emmanuel I (1759-1824, King 1802-1821). In 1859, France and Sardinia set up an alliance to expell Austria from northern Italy. France would receive Savoy and the County of Nice as a reward for its help. The same year, Napolèon III signed the Treaty of Villafranca di Verona, which ended the Italian campaign. However, Venetia remained Austrian and England opposed to the incorporation of Savoy and Nice to France.
In 1860, Napoléon III and Victor Emmanuel II signed the Treaty of Turin, which prescribed the reincorporation of Nice to France "without any pressure, from the will of the inhabitants". The plebiscit yielded 25,743 "yes" and 260 "no". The County of Nice, increased with the arrondissement of Grasse, formed the new Department of Alpes-Maritimes. On 14 June 1860, the French troops entered Nice and the annexation was celebrated. On 12 September, Napoléon III and Eugénie de Montijo were offerred by the Mayor of Nice the gilded keys of the town. The Treaty of Turin stated that the municipalities of Tende and La Brigue should remain Italian for 87 years (mostly because they were the favourite hunting places of Count Cavour). These municipalities were eventually incorporated to France on 10 February 1947, so that the French-Italian border matches now the natural border constituted by the top of the Alps mountains.

Ivan Sache, 26 May 2003

Flag of the County of Nice

The flag of the County of Nice is a banner of the arms< I>D'argent à l'aigle couronnée de gueules au vol abaissé, empiétant une montagne de trois coupeaux de sable issant d'une mer d'azur mouvant de la pointe et ondée d'argent (Argent, an eagle displayed gules crowned or standing on three rocks vert rising from water barry wavy azure and argent).

In his Notice historique sur les blasons des anciennes provinces de France (Historical note on the coats of arms of the ancient French provinces, 1941), Jacques Meurgey, recalling that the County of Nice never had specific arms, assigned to the province the old arms of Nice, D'argent à l'aigle essorante sur une montagne de sable (Argent an eagle rising on a mount sable), after Bara, Blason des Armoiries, Paris, 1628). The sea (labelled au naturel, "proper", by Meurgey) is a recent addition to the arms.

Ivan Sache, 14 June 2009