Béziers, a real history book...
6500 BC: During the digging of the northern ring road of the city, remains have been discovered, the study of which proves that the history and the settlement of Béziers, at the foot of the hill Saint Nazaire, Began 6500 years ago.
The Roman occupation: The city was founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC Then comes the Roman empire: Béziers, stronghold, is connected to Narbonne by the Domitian Way. Around the city of "Biterre", grows the cultivation of the vine and the olive tree, the forests of oaks are cleared. This "Gallo-Roman" floret was then invaded by the Visigoths, who ransomed the country and settled there.
Oh, but it's Charles Martel! If Charles Martel repulsed the Saracens in Poitiers in 732, he also conquered and occupied Béziers, in 737 (destroying in passing the Roman amphitheater), while he was completing "to escort" the Arab army towards the other Side of the Pyrenees...
The Crusade against the Cathars: "Kill all, God will recognize his own". These few words of a legate of the Pope of Rome give free rein to the "grande boucherie", of 22 July 1209. A "gran mazel" as they say in Occitan. The Albigensian crusade, against the "Cathar heresy", is thus translated by the bag, the burning of Béziers and the massacre of its population. The army of the king of France and of Rome will then forty years to complete this war of pillage, of burning piles.
Troubadours and commune: Béziers is one of the first cities of the south to obtain its communal charter: it is administered by consuls, who exercise their power on the site of the old Roman forum, city Hall. Béziers also very quickly espouses the culture of the troubadours. Here they are named Matfre Ermengaud, Azalaïs de Portiragnes... This sweetness of life, this cultural development, do not resist the invasions, famines, epidemics of the fourteenth century.
The Canal du Midi: to Pierre-Paul Riquet, France grateful. Pierre-Paul Riquet was born in Béziers in 1609. He designed and imagined the Canal du Midi, then obtained permission from Louis XIV to build it. Car Riquet found the solution - which the Romans were already looking for - to supply this canal permanently with water. By linking the Garonne (thus the Atlantic), to the Mediterranean, it ensures, develops and secures trade between the two seas. It follows a period of great prosperity of Béziers.
Fortunes viticoles and southern splendors: The most splendid period of the Biterroise history is in the XIXe century. The rise of industry, car and commerce opened the national and world wine market to the local vineyard. This provides work for thousands of people, resulting in unprecedented population growth. Thanks to the wine, colossal fortunes are created, the "châteaux pinardiers" flourish in the vineyards of Béziers. The Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Midi developed, the Alleys Paul Riquet, the Plateau des Poètes, the theater, the arenas (where Camille Saint-Saëns and Gabriel Fauré gave sumptuous performances). This opulence ends at the very beginning of the twentieth century. To the point that in 1907 the vine growers revolt, Clemenceau represses them to say the least severely.
Jean Moulin, the honor of France: The defeat of 1940 and the German occupation are a wound to the shameful pride of the Biterrois. It is from a house in the Champs de Mars, where it is born, that the great air of revolt rises. Jean Moulin, prefect by vocation, biterrois by birth, democrat and free by conviction, became the hero of the French Resistance. He coordinates it at the height of the Occupation. Before being betrayed, arrested, martyred. And to die in the train that takes him in deportation...
Béziers today... It is a city of almost 73 000 inhabitants, the heart of a community of agglomeration which counts 107 000. Installed in the middle of a region eminently tourist, where it finds its own place, Béziers traces its own path to the future: university development, diversification of the economic fabric, multiplication of access infrastructures (A9, A75, TGV to Spain...).