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This article is about the former French province, for the warship see French aircraft carrier Béarn


Béarn (Gascon: Bearn or Biarn; ) is a former province of France, located in the Pyreneesmarker mountains and in the plain at their feet, in southwest Francemarker. Along with the three Basque provinces of Soule, Lower Navarre, and Labourd, the principality of Bidachemarker, as well as small parts of Gasconymarker, it forms in the southwest the current département of Pyrénées-Atlantiquesmarker (64). The capitals of Bearn were Morlaàsmarker (starting ca. 1100), Orthezmarker (starting second half of 13th century), then Paumarker (beginning in the mid 15th century).

Béarn is bordered by Basque provinces Soule and Lower Navarre to the west, by Gascony (Landesmarker and Armagnac) to the north, by Bigorre to the east, and by Spainmarker (Aragonmarker) to the south.

Officially, the name Bearn comes from Beneharnum, a city destroyed by Vikings by 840. According to Joel Supéry, this name which is appearing after the year 1000, may be scandinavic and refer to Björn or Bjarni. The Viking chief who conquered Gascony was anxious to take the control over the pyrenean passes. The area of Bearn controls the Somport to Jaca and the Pouralet. This chief also gave his name to the Pays de Born where the Vikings had a naval base in Mimizan according to local charts (Bréviaire de Lescar).

Today, the mainstays of the Béarn area are the petroleum business, the aerospace industry through the helicopter manufacturer Turbomeca, tourism and agriculture (much of which is corn grown for seed). 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 Gasconmarker is neither surprising nor incorrect, as Béarn is sometimes considered a part of Gascony.

In the eastern part of the province are two small exclaves belonging to Bigorre. They are the result of how early Bearn grew to its traditional boundaries: some old lesser viscounties were added by marriage, and absorbed into Bearn: Oloron to the south/southwest ca. 1050, Montanérès in the east in 1085, and Dax in the west in 1194. When Montanérès was added, five communities or parishes (Villenave-Près-Béarn, Escaunets, Séron, Gardères, and Luquet) were not part of the dowry; they remained, or became, part of Bigorre.[92862] However, they were absorbed into the département to which Bearn now belongs, Pyrénées-Atlantiquesmarker, rather than following Bigorre into Hautes-Pyrénéesmarker.

People from Béarn



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