A Roman town, and the capital of medieval Provence
First record, 122 BC: Aquae Sextiae
Aix was founded as Aquae Sextiae in the year 122 BC by Sextius Calvinius, after first destroying the Ligurian oppidum at Entremont. In 102 BC, Marius, who defeated the Teutons on the plain of Pourriéres (20 km east), embellished the town with monuments. In 45 BC, César declared Aix a colony. The thermal baths were developed around 15 BC from local mineral hot springs. When the Roman Empire was reorganized at the end of the 3rd century AD, Aix became the capital of the Second Narbonnaise. Aix is on the Roman road Aurelian Way.
An archbishop was installed here from around 400 AD, although the archbishopric was established definitely in the 8th century. The Roman colony was abandoned in 574, and the early Middle Ages became a time of invasion, principally by the Barbarians and the Saracens. During this period, regional power evolved to Arles.
Capital of Provence
From the 11th to 15th centuries, Aix regrew in stature. In 1182, the Counts of Provence took Aix as their home, and the city was known for its refined and literate court. In 1409, a university was founded by Louis II.
In 1481, following the Anjou-Provence alliance, Provence was leagued to the crown by Charles III du Maine, Provence's last ruler. Good King René (Bon Roi René) (1409-80), who was one of the most literate and enlightened men of his time, ruled during Aix's golden age, bringing art, theater, literature and the Muscat grape to Aix and Provence. Aix became the seat of the new parliament in 1501.
Early in the 16th century, Aix was ravaged repeatedly by the Imperials. Aix sided with the Reform, against Richelieu and Mazarin, and lost.
Aix declined even further during the revolution, and was eventually surplanted politically by Marseilles.