La Rochelle History, France
The city, founded in the 10th century was a simple fishermen village, but later on, in the 12th century, it became an important harbour. It was also the time when the first mayor was elected: Guillaume de Montmirail.
In the 13th century, commerce was an important occupation – the trade with salt and wine was on top. La Rochelle would become thus the most important French harbours until the 15th century.
It was well know now that the city was an independent one, so, the Reform and its new ideas lured the inhabitants into joining the crime against the state in 1568. Consequently, the city wins the status of „ville libre” – free city – and develops itself mostly economically and culturally until 1620.
But the city was interfering with the plans of Cardinal Richelieu – King Louis XIII’s chief minister - to unify the entire France. The attacks ordered by the mayor of the city on the royal army enhanced a 13 months siege, ended by the surrender of the people of La Rochelle. The mayor was suppressed and the city had no longer his former privileges.
But, nothing was lost, as it was the age of the great voyages on sea; due to the maritime commerce the city raises again, establishing regular relations with the Antilles (sugar trade) and the Nouvelle-France, in Canada (fur trade).
The 1789 revolution and the Empire wars sent La Rochelle to sleep, awakening it only in 1890, with the creation of a harbour in profound waters in La Pallice – the main port of the city. Its nautical qualities made the German army establish here a submarine naval base during the Second World War. La Rochelle will be the last city liberated in 1945, and luckily without undergoing any major destruction.
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