Béarn (French pronunciation: [be.aʁn]; Gascon: Bearn or Biarn; Basque: Bearno or Biarno) is one of the traditional provinces of France, located in the Pyrenees mountains and in the plain at their feet, in southwest France. Along with the three Basque provinces of Soule, Lower Navarre, and Labourd, the principality of Bidache, as well as small parts of Gascony, it forms in the southwest the current département of Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64). The capitals of Béarn were Beneharnum (until 841), Morlaàs (starting ca. 1100), Orthez (starting second half of 13th century), then Pau (beginning in the mid 15th century).
The name Béarn comes from Beneharnum, the capital city of the Venarni people, destroyed by Vikings by 840.
Today, the mainstays of the Béarn area are the petroleum business, the aerospace industry through the helicopter turboshaft engine manufacturer Turbomeca, tourism and agriculture (much of which is corn grown for seed). Pau was the birthplace of Elf Aquitaine, which has now become a part of Total petroleum company.
In Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers series, the protagonist d'Artagnan was from Béarn (he mentions having attended his father's funeral there in the second book, Twenty Years After). That d'Artagnan is usually referred to as a Gascon is neither surprising nor incorrect, as Béarn is considered a part of Gascony.
In the eastern part of the province are two small exclaves belonging to Bigorre. They are the result of how early Béarn grew to its traditional boundaries: some old lesser viscounties were added by marriage, and absorbed into Béarn: Oloron to the south/southwest ca. 1050, Montanérès in the east in 1085, and Dax in the west in 1194. When Montanérès was added, five communities or parishes (Villenave-Près-Béarn, Escaunets, Séron, Gardères, and Luquet) were not part of the dowry; they remained, or became, part of Bigorre. Their attachment to Bigorre continues to the present, as they followed it into Hautes-Pyrénées, rather than being incorporated into the surrounding Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
People from Béarn
- Louis Barthou - Former politician
- François Bayrou – Candidate in the 2002, 2007 and 2012 French presidential elections, leader of the MoDem party
- Charles Denis Bourbaki - French army's Bearnese officer of Greek origins, he distinguished himself during the Crimean war. A Bearnese football club, FA Bourbaki Pau, was named after him
- The family of Alexander Gordon Bearn
- Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, Marshal of France (1763–1844), Karl XIV Johan, King of Sweden and Norway (where he was known as Karl XIV Johan) from 1818 to 1844
- Fabienne Carat - Singer and actress
- Gaston Phoebus - Gaston X of Bearn, Gaston III of Foix - Established Bearn's independence in 1347
- Gaston de Béarn - Gaston XI of Béarn, Gaston IV of Foix
- Gaston Planté – French physicist who invented the lead acid battery in 1859
- Philippe Bernat-Salles - Former rugby player
- Henry IV of France – Ruled as King of France from 1589 to 1610
- Jean Bouilhou - Rugby player
- Julian Bourdeu - Migrant to Argentina, he devoted to cultural endeavours, being also a journalist and a Police Commissary
- Pierre Bourdieu- French sociologist
- Nicolas Brusque - Former rugby player
- Bertrand Cantat – Singer of the rock band Noir Désir
- Julien Cardy – professional football player
- Jérémy Chardy - Tennis player
- Cataline, aka Jean Caux or Jean-Jacques Caux, a legendary packer during several gold rushes in British Columbia, Canada, is said to have been from Béarn (among other possibilities).
- Nicolas Escudé - Former tennis player
- Patrice Estanguet - Slalom canoeist
- Tony Estanguet - Famous slalom canoeist
- André Labarrère - Former politician
- Pierre Laclède – Co-founder of St. Louis, Missouri in 1764
- Titouan Lamazou - Born Antoine Lamazou, famous navigator and writer
- Jean-Michel Larqué – former professional football player
- Jean Lassalle - Politician, member of MoDem party executive office
- Jeanne III of Navarre – Queen regnant of Navarre from 1555 to 1572 and mother of King Henry IV of France
- Xavier Navarrot - Bearnese poet
- Robert Paparemborde - Former rugby player
- Jean-Baptiste Peyras-Loustalet - Rugby player
- Alejo Peyret
- Jean Saint-Josse - Politician
- Damien Traille - Famous rugby player
- Corinne Touzet – actress
- Bidot-Germa, Grosclaude, Duchon, "Histoire de Béarn" 1986
- Bidot-Germa, Grosclaude, Duchon, "Histoire de Béarn" 1986, p. 23
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