Occitania (Occitan: Occitània, locally [u(k)siˈtanjɔ], [ukʃiˈtanjɔ] or [u(k)siˈtanja]) is the historical region in southern Europe where Occitan was historically the main language spoken,[1] and where it is sometimes still used, for the most part as a second language. This cultural area roughly encompasses the southern third of France, as well as part of Spain (Aran Valley), Monaco, and smaller parts of Italy (Occitan Valleys, Guardia Piemontese). Occitania has been recognized as a linguistic and cultural concept since the Middle Ages, but has never been a legal nor a political entity under this name, although the territory was united in Roman times as the Seven Provinces (Latin: Septem Provinciæ[2]) and in the Early Middle Ages (Aquitanica or the Visigothic Kingdom of Toulouse,[3] or the share of Louis the Pious following Thionville divisio regnorum in 806[4]).

Currently about 200,000–800,000[5][6] people out of 16 million living in the area are either native or proficient speakers of Occitan,[7] although the languages more usually spoken in the area are French, Catalan, Spanish and Italian. Since 2006, the Occitan language has been an official language of Catalonia, which includes the Aran Valley where Occitan gained official status in 1990.

Under Roman rule, most of Occitania was known as Aquitania,[8] the earlier conquered territories were known as Provincia Romana (see modern Provence), while the northern provinces of what is now France were called Gallia (Gaul). Under the Later Empire, both Aquitania and Provincia Romana were grouped in the Seven Provinces or Viennensis. So Provence and Gallia Aquitania (or Aquitanica) are the names used since medieval times for Occitania (i.e. Limousin, Auvergne, Languedoc and Gascony). Thus the historic Duchy of Aquitaine must not be confused with the modern French region called Aquitaine: this is the main reason why the term Occitania was revived in the mid-19th century. The names "Occitania"[9] and "Occitan language" (Occitana lingua) appeared in Latin texts from as early as 1242–1254[10] to 1290[11] and during the following years of the early 14th century; texts exist in which the area is referred to indirectly as "the country of the Occitan language" (Patria Linguae Occitanae). The name Lenga d'òc was used in Italian (Lingua d'òc) by Dante in the late 13th century. The somewhat uncommon ending of the term Occitania is most probably a portmanteau French clerks coined from òc [ɔk] and Aquitània [ɑkiˈtanjɑ], thus blending the language and the land in just one concept.[12]

On 28 September 2016 Occitanie became the name of the administrative region that succeeded the regions of Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon,[13] it is a small part of Occitania.

The name Occitanie appeared in the Middle Ages on the basis of a geographical, linguistic and cultural concept, to designate the part of the French royal domain speaking the langue d’oc.[26]

Its current definition is variable. In the most common usage, Occitania designates the territory where the Occitan has remained used until today,[27][28][29] within the limits defined between 1876[30] and the 20th century.[31] If Occitan language and culture are almost always associated with it,[27][28][29][32] we also find references to a common history,[32][33] an ethnic group,[32][33] a homeland,[34][35] to a people[36][37][38][39][40] or to a nation.[41][42][43][44] The first sociological study in Occitan language to know how the Occitan define themselves was started in 1976.[45] The survey shows that the Occitan reality is defined by language for 95% of people, culture (94%), characterization by a common history (69%), an ethnic group (50%), a nation (20%).[32] Occitania, as defined by the modern Occitan linguistic territory, covers most of the current Southern France, the Alpine valleys of the Western Piedmont, in Italy, Val d'Aran in Spain and Monaco[46][47] an area of approximately 190,000 km2. It had about fifteen million inhabitants in 1999[48] with about 20% inhabitants born outside the territory[49] and about 20% of the natives who left.[50] On the other hand, in the absence of a linguistic census, we know only imperfectly the number of speakers of Occitan.[51]

If the preceding notions are generally limited to the modern linguistic boundaries of Occitan, this term can also be used to designate a larger territory. The term "Occitania" becomes commonplace more and more in the vocabulary of scientists.[21] It is used particularly in a historical sense and anthropological by designating a region extending north to the Loire, ignoring contemporary linguistic boundaries.[22] In a book written by experts in medieval history, are included in Occitania of the year 1000 both the provinces of the north (now mainly in Poitou-Charentes) and Catalonia (without the Balearic Islands and the Valencian country) – p. 484.[52] The seven-pointed star, adopted as emblem by the Felibritge symbolized the seven provinces of Occitania, one of which was Catalan.[53] Occitanie is indeed divided by this association into seven maintenances (sections) of which one was that of Catalonia-Roussillon.

In 2016, the name Occitanie is used for the French administrative region Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées which is located on part of the traditional Occitania and includes the Roussillon.

Occitania comes from the medieval Latin Occitania. The first part of the name, Occ-, comes from Occitan òc and the expression langue d'oc, in Italian lingua d'oc. It is an appellation promoted by Dante Alighieri of Occitan by the way of saying "oui" in Old Occitan-Catalan; as opposed to the "langue de si" (Italian) and the "langue d'oïl" ("yes" in Old French). The ending -itania is probably an imitation of the name [Aqu] itania (Aquitaine). The term Occitania is a synonym for Languedoc and the Mediterranean coast in the Middle Ages.[54]

The first attestation of the use of Occitanie in French dates from 1556.[55][56][57] The first certificate of Occitania in Italy date 1549.[58] In German, we find the word Occitania in 1572.[59]

All the Occitan language countries have had various designations throughout history. The word Occitania has been the subject of whimsical etymologies, as, for example, Languedoc formerly understood as "land of Goth" or "language of Goth"[60]) As well as the rapprochement to the Occitan language exemplified in the names of the regions Languedoc and Occitania, we find in La Minerve Française, a collective work published in Paris in 1818, a history of name-changes of the provinces which reveals the word Occitanie to be a doublet of the word Occident formed in the Lower Empire, giving it the original meaning of "western regions",[61] and not a region where (necessarily) the Occitan language was spoken.

Like the Occitan language, Occitania has been designated under various successive names.[62] The terms are not exclusive: one can, at the same time, find authors who use different terms. Occitania or Pays d'Oc are the most frequently used terms today. However the term Provence is still used when the Felibritge sing the Copa Santa for example during the annual festival of Estello.

The term "Occitania" now covers a linguistic region. This meaning was used in medieval times attested since 1290.[77] On 29 May 1308, during the Council of Poitiers, it appears that the king of France was declared to reign over two nations: one of lingua gallica and the other of lingua occitana. This partition between Occitan language and langue d'oïl in the Gallo-Roman space is very ancient since it started with Romanisation itself. In 1381, the King Charles VI of France considered that his kingdom comprised two parts: the country of langue d'oc, or Occitania, and the oil-language country or Ouytanie "".[78] "Occitania" remained in force in the administration until the French Revolution of 1789. It was taken up again in the 19th century by the literary association of Felibritge[74] then it is again claimed since the 20th century, especially since the end of the 1960s. According to Frédéric Mistral's dictionary "Treasury of Felibritge", the term Occitania is sometimes used by scholars to describe Southern France in general but mainly for the former province of Languedoc.

Quas in nostro Regno occupare solebar tam in linguae Occitanae quam Ouytanae

The langue d'oc is a territorialized language, that is to say, spoken mainly on a territory whose boundaries can be described. This part attempts to describe the origins of the Occitanie concept, the different names that this territory has taken and the creation of the modern concept of Occitania.

The speakers of the Occitan language do not use a single meaning of their language because Occitan is not a monolithic language with for example a single dictionary where each speaker finds exactly their vocabulary, but a juxtaposition of dialects. Also, many studies have focused on the differences between Provençal, Languedoc, etc. We must also remember the many common features of the Occitan cultural space, which are generally considered partisans.

Robert Lafont develops this idea in the introduction of the "History and Anthology of Occitan Literature".[79] The reference to troubadours is essential. This socio-linguistic argument is modulated according to the authors but it is accepted by all the current scholarship, including the authors who speak of "domain d'oc", since by definition, their study of the d'oc domain rests on the consciousness of the existence of a common culture.

The different speakers of the language share many common traits (tonic accentuation, close vocabulary, frequent use of the subjunctive, etc.) that allow mutual understanding. For Occitanists, this intercomprehension means that Occitan is one language; for others, it means that these languages are very close but all agree that the speakers in this defined space understand each other.

The social characteristics of Occitania are not eternal and intangible because factors of endogenous mutations[80] and European influences, especially of Northern France, can blur these social peculiarities.[81]

The best studied example is that of Roman Law which is better maintained in the Occitan Early Middle Ages society than in Northern France thanks to the promulgations of Visigoth and Burgundians laws.[82] From the mid-11th century, the teaching of the Corpus Juris Civilis taken shortly after Bologna in the universities of Toulouse, Montpellier, Avignon, Perpignan... will promote a massive renaissance of Roman Law in Occitania.

With regard to education: Pierre Goubert and Daniel Roche write, to explain the low literacy in Occitania in the 18th century, that there exists in these territories a confidence maintained in the old vulgar languages.[83] The relations to education are today completely reversed between Northern and Southern France thanks to the anthropological imprint of the family strain.[84][85]

From a demographic point of view, the influence of the family was still felt in 2007 because of the small number of families with many children.[86]

In politics, many debates have also taken place around the expression Red Southern coined by Maurice Agulhon[87] to find out if the "pays d'oc" was more "republic" than the northern half of France. Emmanuel Todd analysing the regions that voted for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, calling himself a "Republican" in the 2012 presidential elections, declares that "[88]

what is obvious is his general inscription in the Occitan family[...] that loves vertical structures, the state or the church."

Finally, for André Armengaud,[89] these common social characteristics make it possible to write a historical synthesis. But since 1979, no other "History of Occitan" has been undertaken.

If the term Occitania appeared in French from the mid-16th century,[90][91] then in 1732 in a collection of laws of the ancien régime,[92] it only becomes current at 19th century. Thus, the duke of Angoulême conspired with a view to the establishment of a Kingdom of Occitania[93] or of a Vice-Royalty of Occitania[94] at the time of the Restoration. The term was popularized by the publications of Raynouard and Rochegude, and known in its contemporary sense by the English historian Sharon Turner.[95]

It appeared in the Treasury of Felibritge and in the statutes of this organization in 1911.[96] In the Interwar period, a Felibritgan school, the Escòla Occitana was created in 1919 in the Toulousean Languedoc. The Institute of Occitan Studies was born in 1930. These initiatives (as well as others) remain closely linked, notably because of the dual membership of their main animators at Felibritge.

After the Second World War, the creation of the Institute of Occitan Studies was presided over by a resistant (at a time when the Felibritge like the SEO were tainted by lawsuits of collaboration), but above all its action in terms of linguistic reform, particularly its desire to adapt the classical norm to Provençal, marked a break with a large fraction of the Felibritge[97] François Fontan created the first overtly Occitan nationalist party in 1959.

In France, Occitania has been confronted with a problem of recognition of Occitan since 1992; the French is the only "language of the Republic". In 1994, it was made compulsory in the public space (places of commerce and work, public transport, etc.) and in the administration (laws, regulations, documents, judgments, etc.).[98]

In 2015, with the prospect of creating a large region gathering "Midi-Pyrénées" and "Languedoc-Roussillon",[99] the name "Occitanie" came at the head of an online survey organized by the regional press (23% of the 200,000 voting, in front of "Occitanie-Pays catalan" 20%). Note, however, a variable support rate depending on the geographical origin of the voters.[100] As part of the territorial reform, a consultation, the name of my region, organized by the Regional Council Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées takes place in spring 2016 to give a name to the new region regrouping Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon. Occitanie is in the lead (44.90% of the vote), i.e., by 91,598 voters. Behind arrives Languedoc-Pyrenees with 17.81% of the votes, then Pyrenees-Mediterranean (15.31%), Occitanie-Catalan Country (12.15%) and finally Languedoc (10.01%). This new region was renamed Occitanie (with the subtitle Pyrenees-Mediterranean), according to the vote of the regional councilors on June 24 of 2016, and after final validation by the Government of France and Conseil d'État.

Occitan or langue d'oc (lenga d'òc) is a Latin-based Romance language in the same way as Spanish, Italian or French. There are six main regional varieties, with easy inter-comprehension among them: Provençal (including Niçard spoken in the vicinity of Nice), Vivaroalpenc, Auvernhat, Lemosin, Gascon (including Bearnés spoken in Béarn) and Lengadocian. All these varieties of the Occitan language are written and valid. Standard Occitan is a synthesis which respects soft regional adaptations. See also Northern Occitan and Southern Occitan.

Catalan is a language very similar to Occitan and there are quite strong historical and cultural links between Occitania and Catalonia.

The regions of Ancien Régime that make up Occitania are the following: Auvergne (Auvèrnhe), Forez (west and south fringe), Bourbonnais (southern half), Couserans (Coserans), Dauphiné (southern half), County of Foix (County of Fois), County of Nice (County of Nissa), Périgord (Peiregòrd), Gascony, Guyenne (Guiana), Languedoc (Lengadòc), Angoumois (eastern end), Limousin (Lemosin), Poitou (Poetou) (southeastern extremity), La Marche (la Marcha), Provence (Provença), Comtat Venaissin (lo Comtat Venaicin), Velay, Vivarais (Vivarés).

The administrative regions covering Occitania are the following: Occitanie region (except the Pyrénées-Orientales where a majority speak Catalan, although the Fenouillèdes region, in the North-West of the department, that is to say of Occitan language and culture), Nouvelle-Aquitaine (except the peripheries where one speaks basque, poitevin and saintongeais), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (in the southern half, namely almost all the Drôme and the Ardèche, the southern Isère and some fringes of the Loire) and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. In the Centre-Val de Loire Occitan is spoken in some communes in southern Cher and Indre.

The geographical delimitation of Occitania most commonly accepted was specified between 1876—beginning of research on the linguistic boundaries[101]—and the 20th century. Occitania roughly covers a southern third of France (commonly known as Midi, including Monaco), the Occitan Valleys and Guardia Piemontese, in Italy, as well as the Val d'Aran, in Spain.

The practice of Occitan is not the same uniformly throughout the territory. In addition, there is a linguistic transition area in the north called Croissant where the terms of d'oil and Occitan interfere strongly (see Croissant). Instead, some territories are not generally considered to be part of Occitania according to the modern definition:[102]

Written texts in Occitan appeared in the 10th century: it was used at once in legal then literary, scientific or religious texts. The spoken dialects of Occitan are many centuries older and appeared as soon as the 8th century, at least, revealed in toponyms or in Occitanized words left in Latin manuscripts, for instance.

"Speak French Be Clean" written across the wall of a Southern French school

Occitania was often politically united during the Early Middle Ages, under the Visigothic Kingdom and several Merovingian and Carolingian sovereigns. In Thionville, nine years before he died (805), Charlemagne vowed that his empire be partitioned into three autonomous territories according to nationalities and mother tongues: along with the Franco-German and Italian ones, was roughly what is now modern Occitania from the reunion of a broader Provence and Aquitaine.[112] But things did not go according to plan and at the division of the Frankish Empire (9th century), Occitania was split into different counties, duchies and kingdoms, bishops and abbots, self-governing communes of its walled cities. Since then the country was never politically united again, though Occitania was united by a common culture which used to cross easily the political, constantly moving boundaries. Occitania suffered a tangle of varying loyalties to nominal sovereigns: from the 9th to the 13th centuries, the dukes of Aquitaine, the counts of Foix, the counts of Toulouse and the Counts of Barcelona rivalled in their attempts at controlling the various pays of Occitania.

Occitan literature was glorious and flourishing at that time: in the 12th and 13th centuries, the troubadours invented courtly love (fin'amor) and the Lenga d'Òc spread throughout all European cultivated circles. Actually, the terms Lenga d'Òc, Occitan, and Occitania appeared at the end of the 13th century.

But from the 13th to the 17th centuries, the French kings gradually conquered Occitania, sometimes by war and slaughtering the population, sometimes by annexation with subtle political intrigue. From the end of the 15th century, the nobility and bourgeoisie started learning French while the people stuck to Occitan (this process began from the 13th century in two northernmost regions, northern Limousin and Bourbonnais). In 1539, Francis I issued the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts that imposed the use of French in administration. But despite measures such as this, a strong feeling of national identity against the French occupiers remained and Jean Racine wrote on a trip to Uzès in 1662: "What they call France here is the land beyond the Loire, which to them is a foreign country."[113]

In 1789, the revolutionary committees tried to re-establish the autonomy of the "Midi" regions: they used the Occitan language, but the Jacobin power neutralized them.

The 19th century witnessed a strong revival of the Occitan literature and the writer Frédéric Mistral was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1904.

But from 1881 onwards, children who spoke Occitan at school were punished in accordance with minister Jules Ferry's recommendations. That led to a deprecation of the language known as la vergonha (the shaming): the whole fourteen million inhabitants of the area spoke Occitan in 1914,[114] but French gained the upper hand during the 20th century. The situation got worse with the media excluding the use of the langue d'oc. In spite of that decline, the Occitan language is still alive and gaining fresh impetus.

Although not really a colony in a modern sense, there was an enclave in the County of Tripoli. Raymond IV of Toulouse founded it in 1102 during the Crusades north of Jerusalem. Most people of this county came from Occitania and Italy and so the Occitan language was spoken.

Around the XIVth century, some "Provençal" settlements were founded by Valdenses in Southern Italy: Capitanata area, Basilicate, and Calabria. Most of them were destroyed by the Inquisition during the XVIth century, but Guardia Piemontese managed to keep its language and occitan identity until nowadays.

At the end of the XVIIth century, Valdenses flying persecution in the Occitan valleys settled in Baden, Hessen, and Wurtemberg (nowadays Germany). The use of Occitan language vanished during the XXth century, but some Occitan placenames are still in use.

In the XIXth century, Occitans settled in America. Valdense colonies have been keeping a bit of the lnguage until today, eg. in Uruguay and in the United States.

The oldest association is the Felibritge, founded in 1854. Some of its members founded in 1945 a distinct movement under the name of Institut d'Estudis Occitans after the Second World War.

Some associations adhering to Felibritge and Parlaren claim a Provençal language distinct from Occitan.

Other associations claim distinct "languages d'oc", even if, paradoxically, some of them are grouped together in an Alliance of Oc languages:

On the other hand, some groups claim an Occitan-Roman identity including the Catalan Countries (France-Spain).

In Spain, the Aranese political parties alternately run the Conselh Generau d'Aran, principal institution of the Government of the Val d'Aran. They also have elected officials in the municipalities of Aran, the Parliament of Catalonia and the Spanish Senate. They are close to Catalan parties with the exception of the localist party Partit Renovador d'Arties-Garòs who has, however, made alliances with Unity of Aran. Unity of Aran (UA-PNA) is a social-democratic and regionalist-autonomist party affiliated to Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSOE-PSC), while Aranese Democratic Convergence (CDA-PNA), currently in power, is a centrist and autonomist party linked to the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia. Esquèrra Republicana Occitana (ÈRO) founded in 2008, Left/Social Democracy and Independence, is a local section of Republican Left of Catalonia. Corròp is a citizen movement born in February 2015 that aims to break with the Aranese bipartisanship and is inspired by the Catalan independence movement Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), but with a view to Occitania.[115]

In the 2017 Catalan regional election the electors of the Val d'Aran voted mostly for pro-unionist parties to Spain or "constitutionalists".[116]

In France, political parties or movements within the framework of Occitania (Occitan Nationalist Party, Occitan Party, Freedom !, ...) had difficulty to win a large audience and get elected officials. They have never had elected representatives in national or European institutions or in general councils. However, in the 2010 French regional elections, the Occitan Party, within the framework of the participation of the federation Regions and Peoples with Solidarity to Europe Écologie, enters five regional councils. Dàvid Grosclaude is elected in Aquitaine.,[117] Guilhem Latrubesse in Midi-Pyrénées, Gustau Aliròl in Auvergne, Anne-Marie Hautant and Hervé Guerrera in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.[118] The latter is also elected to the city council of Aix-en-Provence and counselor to the Agglomeration Community of Aix Country.[119] The movement Bastir! ran for the first time in the 2014 municipal elections and won 55 seats.[120][121] On the other hand, the president of the Occitan Party, Gustave Alirol is currently also president of the "Regions and Peoples with Solidarity" party and vice-president of the "European Free Alliance" which participates in a group of 50 deputies in the European Parliament.[122]

There are 14 to 16 million inhabitants in Occitania today. According to the 1999 census, there are 610,000 native speakers and another million people with some exposure to the language. Native speakers of Occitan are to be found mostly in the older generations. The Institut d'Estudis Occitans (IEO) has been modernizing the Occitan language since 1945, and the Conselh de la Lenga Occitana (CLO) since 1996. Nowadays Occitan is used in the most modern musical and literary styles such as rock 'n roll, folk rock (Lou Dalfin), rap (Fabulous Trobadors), reggae (Massilia Sound System) and heavy metal, detective stories or science-fiction. It is represented on the internet. Association schools (Calandretas) teach children in Occitan.

The Occitan political movement for self-government has existed since the beginning of the 20th century and particularly since post-war years (Partit Occitan, Partit de la Nacion Occitana, Anaram Au Patac, Iniciativa Per Occitània, Paratge, Bastir! etc.). The movement remains negligible in electoral and political terms. Nevertheless, Regional Elections in 2010 allowed the Partit Occitan to enter the Regional councils of Aquitaine, Auvergne, Midi-Pyrénées, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.

Major demonstrations in Carcassonne (2005 and 2009) and Béziers (2007) and the week-long Estivada festivals in Rodez (2006–2010) suggest that there is a revival of Occitan language and culture. However, in France, Occitan is still not recognized as an official language, as , and Occitan activists want the French government to adopt Occitan as the second official language for seven regions representing the South of France.[citation needed]

The Occitan language is only recognized as official, protected and promoted in the Val d'Aran (in Spain); in Italy it has the status of a protected language; and in France it only has acceptance in the educational network but without legal recognition.

The Fédération des langues régionales pour l'enseignement public calculated the number of students in the Occitan language in October 2005 at 4,326.[125]

According to a 2002 report by the French Ministry of Culture (Report to Parliament on the use of the French language, 2003), in public schools, collèges and lycées and private schools: in the academic year 2001–02, 67,549 students had enrolled in classes of or in Occitan.

Despite this precarious social position, Occitan was one of the official languages of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.

Romantic composer Gabriel Fauré was born in Pamiers, Ariège in the Pyrenees region of France.

The Occitanian gastronomy or occitan cuisine is considered as Mediterranean but has some specific features that separate it from the Catalan cuisine or Italian cuisine. Indeed, because of the size of Occitania and the great diversity of landscapes- from the mountaineering of the Pyrenees and the Alps, rivers and lakes, and finally the Mediterranean and Atlantic coast – it can be considered as a highly varied cuisine. Compared to other Mediterranean cuisines, we could note the using of basic elements and flavors, among them meat, fish and vegetables, moreover the frequent using of the olive oil; although also compound of elements from the Atlantic coast cuisine, with cheeses, pastes, creams, butters and more high calorie food. Among well-renowned meals common on the Mediterranean coast includes ratatolha (the equivalent of Catalan samfaina), alhòli, bolhabaissa (similar to Italian Brodetto alla Vastese), pan golçat (bread with olive oil) likewise salads with mainly olives, rice, corn and wine. Another significant aspect that changes compared to its Mediterranean neighbors is the abundant amount of aromatic herbs; some of them are typically Mediterranean, like parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano or again basil.

Some of the world-renowned traditional meals are Provençal ratatolha (ratatouille), alhòli (aioli) and adauba (Provençal stew), Niçard salada nissarda (Salad Niçoise) and pan banhat (Pan-bagnat), Limousin clafotís (clafoutis), Auvergnat aligòt (aligot), Languedocien caçolet (cassoulet), or again Gascon fetge gras (foie gras).

Occitania is also home of a great variety of cheeses (like Roquefort, Bleu d'Auvergne, Cabécou, Cantal, Fourme d'Ambert, Laguiole, Pélardon, Saint-Nectaire, Salers) and a great diversity of wines such as Bordeaux, Rhône wine, Gaillac wine, Saint-Émilion wine, Blanquette de Limoux, Muscat de Rivesaltes, Provence wine, Cahors wine, Jurançon. Alcohols such as Pastis and Marie Brizard or brandies such as, Armagnac, and Cognac are produced in the area.