Today the French Mediterranean coast is known for soft sandy beaches and elegant resorts. Thirteen centuries ago the region was on the brink of years of battle and bloodshed.
Septimania was a vaguely rectangular region that ran from the French southwest Mediterranean coast to the northeast for perhaps 150 miles, and from the sea to about fifty miles inland. It was bounded by the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean, and the river Rhone to the east. First named for the Roman seventh legion who settled there, the region included one of the first Roman roads in Gaul, the Via Domitia, that ran from Italy to Spain. The Via Aquitania split off from that and ran to Bordeaux. The towns of Narbonne and Agde were ports and trading sites in Roman times, and salt was extracted from around Narbonne. The province remained more Roman than Rome as the barbarians closed around the mother city in the fourth and fifth centuries. Finally in 462 the Romans handed it to the Visigoths.