Isère in history

Isère in history

Recently published by Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, Isère in history offers to revisit the history of the region through the rich collection of the museum of the former bishopric of Grenoble. An immersion in the heart of "Isère" history enhanced by a beautiful edition of which the PUGs have the secret.

Isabelle Lazier and Marion Vivier invite the reader to travel through several centuries of history, from prehistory to the 20th century. Benefiting from the research of the most recognized historians for their period, Isère in history can easily satisfy a readership curious about history thanks to its playful and dynamic format.

The walk "towards history"

Isère - a department born in 1790 after the break-up of the Dauphiné - knows an ancient human occupation. The oldest human fossil known to date is the so-called "alexander skull", discovered in 1983. The man of 1m60, aged about 50 years at the time of his death, lived almost 11,000 years ago. However, from - 55,000 years BC (Paleolithic) medium), groups of hunter-gatherers already roam the mid-altitude plateaus in search of game. The last glaciation, the Würm (between 35,000 and 14,000 BC), had the effect of making the Alpine massifs hostile to man. It was not until 14,000 BC. that the territory is once again occupied by the famous Homo Sapiens. Global warming can be observed around 12,000 BC. Reindeer and horses then set off further north while deer, ibex and roe deer come to replace them. Men must adapt to this new type of prey and then make a new weapon: the bow. From 5000 BC, opens the new era of the Neolithic. The first traces of pastoral and then agricultural activity can be seen. In Sassenage, archaeologists have also uncovered a place of occupation relating to this period. It is also the moment when man begins to manufacture ceramics and to trade. We have been able to find in Isère "pieces of tableware" from Italy. From the first half of the 3rd millennium BC, not far from Charavines on the shores of Lake Paladru, village communities settled periodically and practiced agricultural activity. From the end of the 3rd millennium BC, the first bronze objects appeared. This technical innovation contributes to the emergence of a new model of society which results in new funerary practices and the appearance of "bronze princes" at the head of the clan. During the 1st millennium BC, bearers of great swords - the Hallstattians - from the Austrian Prealps invaded the lands of the lower Dauphiné. After them, it is the turn of the Celts to occupy the territory. They will forge many tools and new types of weapons. Cities are emerging, especially on the territory of the current city of Grenoble. Around 218 BC the Allobroges oppose the passage of Hannibal who tries to cross the Alps. The Roman Empire is not far away.

From Vienna to Grenoble

Indeed, it was around 121 BC that the Romans extended their domination over transalpine Gaul. Vienne becomes the capital of one of the cities of the Narbonnaise. The agglomeration reached its peak under the reign of Claudius (41-54) who had a theater built in addition to the imposing forum and the large temple dedicated to Augustus and Livia already in place. Vienna makes a different thanks to its wine, known as "allobrogue", then recognized as far away as Rome! But from the third century, the Roman Empire experienced internal disturbances. Cularo - today's Grenoble - faced with the prevailing insecurity, locked itself in an enclosure between 286 and 293. Moreover, little is known about the ancient city of Cularo. However, in 43 BC. J. the founding general of Lyon, Munatius Plancus, sends a letter to Cicero in which he already mentions the city. This first scriptural mention is reinforced by archeology which has made it possible to attest to an occupation of the land since the 1st century BC. at least. From the 4th century, it seems that a Christian community settled there, as evidenced by archeology which reveals traces of a baptistery from the 4th-5th century. The city receives the name of Gratianopolis in the 4th century, under the Emperor Gratien. At this point, Bishop Domin holds the city's crosier. During the High Middle Ages, the baptistery received several apses. But with the reorganization of liturgical practices, it loses its symbolic force and is replaced by a parish cemetery which adjoins the church. Anyway, as and when, Vienna gradually lost its territory to Cularo who stole the show and then became the new capital. In the 5th, new disturbances occurred and Vienna was sacked by the Burgundians in 486, i.e. some time after the sack of Rome by Alaric in 410.

The affirmation of the Dauphiné

At the end of the 5th century, Gaul experienced the phenomenon known as "barbarian invasions". The Burgundians settled in the region with Geneva as a base. They suffered a defeat against the Franks in 534. Until the 9th, the Frankish kingdom then the Carolingian empire remained relatively unified. In 843, the empire was divided into three large groups and Burgundy-Provence fell into the hands of Lothaire. In 1032, it was finally the Roman Empire of Conrad II that took over the region. During the eleventh century, many stately homes disputed the territory. Large families like the Clérieu, the Alleman or the Bressieux will stand out. At the same time, the Church is extending its influence with strong personalities such as Hugues de Châteauneuf (Bishop of Grenoble from 1080 to 1132) or through the creation of new orders such as that of the Carthusians. During the 11th century, one family gained the upper hand over the others: the Guigues. The castle mound of Albon is the epicenter of their power and, around 1079, they also take the title of Count d'Albon. It was during the 12th century that the name "dauphin" would eventually come to the fore for the counts and at the end of the 13th century that the term "Dauphiné" was used for the first time in connection with the region. The power of the dolphins is limited by that of the bishops but also by the many local lords and especially by the count of Savoy. Ruined by the wars, Humbert II was finally forced to "sell" the Delphine state to the king of France. It is the famous "transport" of the Dauphiné in 1349. From that moment, the eldest son of the king bears the title of dolphin and exercises power in this principality before fate places him on the throne of France. In 1453 the Delphine Council was transformed into a Parliament by the future King Louis XI, then Dauphin. It is the birth of the third Parliament after that of Paris and that of Toulouse.

Modern times

During the 16th century, the Dauphiné Parliament tried on several occasions to rise up against royal authority. In order to limit the too strong power of Parliaments, Richelieu will then set up the system of royal intendants. The 16th century was eventful for the whole of Dauphiné. A buffer zone between France and Italy, the region has a front-row seat in the war which, from 1494 to 1559, opposed the two states. In 1515, after having distinguished himself in combat, Pierre du Terrail, Lord of Bayard, was appointed lieutenant general of the Province. After the end of the Italian wars, the Dauphiné was again shaken by the wars of religion from 1562. Converted to Protestantism, François de Beaumont, baron des Adrets, ravaged Vienna and Grenoble. Finally, Grenoble was taken in 1590 by François de Bonne (1543-1626), Lord of Lesdiguières, joined by Henri IV. This great Dauphinois character will rule the province with an iron fist until his death. About him, Henri IV ironically exclaimed "Here is M. de Lesdiguières who wants to be dolphin". He was made Marshal, then Duke and Peer of France in 1611. In 1622, he became the second character of the kingdom by being appointed Constable. A little urbanized region, the 18th century Dauphiné was essentially dominated by rural activity which gradually opened up to the textile and metallurgical industry. Some fairs enliven the intellectual life of Grenoble with illustrious participants such as Choderlos de Laclos. Through strong personalities such as the historian Valbonnais, the philosopher Etienne Bonnot de Condillac or the scientist and inventor Vaucanson, Grenoble is gradually establishing itself as one of the centers of the French intellectual landscape. In May 1788, the Grenoble parliamentarians opposed royal reforms aimed at reducing their powers. The royal edicts, however, passed in force, which triggered a strong politico-social crisis. On June 7, 1788, the people of Grenoble opposed the army during the "tile day" in front of its name against the projectiles used by the population. The Grenoblois notables take up this popular discontent on their own and defend the rights of the Province. During the summer of 1789, around sixty castles in the lower Dauphiné were devastated. It was after the Revolution that the Dauphiné was dismembered between the Hautes-Alpes, Drôme and Isère.

The 19th century isérois: from Champollion to Stendhal

During the First Empire, Joseph Fourrier - Bonaparte's former companion during the Egyptian expedition - was placed at the head of Isère. The latter modernizes Isère thanks to major works and promotes intellectual activity by encouraging Champollion's research. The people of Isère therefore remain particularly attached to Napoleon and acclaim him on his return from exile. Thereafter Isère will remain quite hostile to the return of the monarchy. Interest in politics is intensifying. Great figures of French cultural heritage such as Stendhal or Berlioz give the region an international influence. During the 19th century, the textile industry experienced strong growth with local specialties such as the famous luxury kid skin gloves made in Grenoble. The arrival of the railway in Grenoble in 1858 boosted tourist activity in the region, which was popular for its spas and mountain-related activities. The Isère then entered a contemporary era with a rich history and heritage.

In the end, the PUG book offers a brief history of quality Isère, served by a fine edition. With the assistance of the Museum of the Former Bishopric of Grenoble, the authors proceeded in a rather original way, relying on material elements preserved either in the museum or in the region in order to retrace its history. In fact, due to the reduced format of the book, choices had to be made without, however, harming the overall understanding of the historical unfolding. However, we could have appreciated some additional developments on certain occasions. To best remedy this shortcoming, a short bibliography is given in the appendix mentioning the work of authoritative specialists in the history of the region. In the end, the book remains generalist but makes the reader want to go and explore the history of Isère in more detail. What more could you ask for from this type of book?

Isabelle LAZIER and Marion VIVIERIsère in history, Grenoble, PUG, 2015


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