Apt, one of the main Vaucluse’s town


The town of Apt was founded by the Romans in a region originally inhabited by the Vulgientes, a Gallic tribe. Originally called “Apta”, the site of a military camp on the Domitian Way, “Julia” was added as a tribute to Julius Caesar, whose “pax romana” had already praised the frequent intermingling between Romans and indigenous populations. Apt became a Roman Colony and the capital of one of the 19 Colonies in “La Gaule Narbonnaise”. Tradition also has it that Julius Caesar stopped in Apt while returning from one of his campaigns in Spain, which seems very plausible since the Domitian Way was used for major expeditions Because of the invasions which took place between the 6th century and the year 1000, the people may have returned to the mountains in order to defend themselves. During the 9th century, however, we know that the town was administered by the Counts of Apt and in the following century jurisdiction was shared between Counts and Bishops. It took on a new form with the development of the town as a commune (parliaments, then Consuls and Syndics). Apt bustled with life in the Middle Ages, surrounded by its tight perimeter of ramparts and supported by flourishing trade. In the 14th century Apt benefited both directly and indirectly from the installation of the papacy in Avignon. Pope Urban V was present at the Regional Concilium of 1365, which took place in the town and defined new ecclesiastical rules as well as attempting to moderate customs and behaviour. In 1483 Provence handed itself over to France and Apt followed suit. Life in Apt has always been closely linked with that in the surrounding mountain villages. Catholic repression against the Waldenses who had sought refuge in Luberon led to a veritable civil war. Apt suffered several sieges at the hands of the Protestants, following exactions by the Bishop. Surrounded by the protestant strongholds of Ménerbes, Sivergues and Buoux, the great majority of the population of Apt nevertheless remained faithfully catholic. Over the centuries Apt suffered numerous epidemics of plague, the most serious being those of 1348 and 1720, the latter emerging from Marseille to devastate the whole of Provence. In the 17th century Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, hoping for a son and heir, asked for public prayers and took up the cult of Saint Anne. At the request of the Queen, the Consuls sent her a relic of the patron saint that had been kept in the cathedral. After the birth of the future Louis XIV, Anne of Austria visited Apt from 27 to 29 March in the year 1660. The visit was an enormous contribution to the development of the cult of the mother of the Holy Virgin. The intellectual life of Apt in the 17th and 18th centuries was marked by a vigorous revival around a number of erudite local individuals. Then, in 1789, Apt took part in the preparatory work for reforms and adopted the principles of the Revolution. As an ancient Provost District, in 1790 Apt was promoted to the rank of subprefecture. Apart from its numerous political convulsions, the 19th century was a time when Apt saw the creation of industries based on the town’s traditional activities i.e. ochre, ceramics, hat-making, wax, fruit preserving, iron and sulphur. The Apt of modern times is the heart and capital of its area, resolutely looking towards the future. In a constantly-changing society, its desire is to continue to set an example as a balanced town, a place of work and creation, but also of hospitality. The ancient Domitian Way has always been a route for cultural exchanges and trade between east and west: it must always remain the road of friendship.

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