On wikipedia I came across the following rough political map of Europe in 1789:

enter image description here

To my surprise there seems to be a small state enclaved in the south of France, circled in the picture. I have no clue what this could be, so my question is:

What is the name of this state?

3 Answers 3


That is Avignon, part of the papal states. In 1791 the French annexed it. The map below shows the extent of the papal states in 1700:

papal states 1700

  • 7
    To expand a bit: Avignon had been under papal control since the 14th century, when the pope was based there for almost 70 years (the "babylonian captivity of the papacy").
    – andejons
    Aug 24, 2015 at 8:06
  • 1
    @andejons - Right. IOW: It was sort of a legal fig leaf to cover the fact that the papacy was being controlled by France.
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 24, 2015 at 13:33
  • @andejons It is also called the Avignon Papacy Dec 2, 2019 at 7:15

This is Comtat Venaissin. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comtat_Venaissin for further information. If you understand French, you'll find https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comtat_Venaissin more complete.


To be technical Avignon was not then part of France. It was part of the Kingdom of Burgundy or Arles in the Holy Roman Empire, or would be except that the Pope claimed to be an independent monarch.

The kingdom of Arles included about one sixth of modern france. By 1789 the King of France and the Swiss Confederation had acquired most of the counties and duchies and other lands in the kingdom. But in some of those lands the King of France still used in official documents a title in the form of "King of France and Count of Provence", for example, instead of plain "King of France and Navarre" as in France itself, and thus acknowledged that those lordships were outside of France.

  • 2
    This answer would be improved by references/citations.
    – MCW
    Aug 24, 2015 at 22:51
  • In 1789 there was no single unified manner in which French provinces were governed. Some were under the control of local aristocracy, some were governed by Intendants, part of a system instituted by Louis XIV. In some there were competing claims to government. Anything resembling the French language was spoken in less than 50% of the area of modern France. At the centre of Revolutionary ideology was an appeal to nationalism within its borders - La Patrie.
    – WS2
    Sep 2, 2015 at 8:16

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