History of Île-de-France

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Map of the extent of the historic Isle of France

Île-de-France is a region or province of France.

Geographic Definition[edit]

The province of Île-de-France encompasses the north-central territories of Val-d’Oise, Seine-et-Marne, Seine-Saint-Denis, Ville-de-Paris (Paris), Hauts-de-Seine, Val-de-Marne, Essonne, and Yvelines. Some parts of the historic province are now incorporated into the present-day region of Picardy, whilst other parts of the present-day région Île-de-France are taken from the historic province of Champagne. French history.[1]

Early history[edit]

The history of Île-de-France dates back to the Middle Ages when Île-de-France was also known as Isle of France.

The name Isle de France first appeared in 1387 when the term "France" began to designate territories of the Crown, replacing the pays de France ("pays" means "region/county" as well as "country"). Literally "Island of France", the name was derived from the area's situation bordered by the rivers Seine, Marne, Oise and Beuvronne, which surround it like an island. The name may also inherit from the Frankish Lidle Franke / Lilde Franke, or, "little France". That is, because the "French"/Frankish kings were bilingual until the 12th or 13th century,[citation needed] the Frankish expression may have evolved when Francia ("Franko/n", "Franke", or "Franchonolant" in Frankish) no longer meant the entire Frankish Empire but the smaller West Francia, and later the—even smaller—"Pays de France". The expression "Lidle Franke" / "Lilde Franke" may have persisted until the 13th century when locals quit pronouncing the "s" in "isle"; then "Lilde France" [lildəfrãntsə] would have been difficult to distinguish from l'Île-de-France (IPA: [lildəfrãnsə]).

The area around Paris was the original personal domain of the king of France, as opposed to areas ruled by feudal lords of whom he was the suzerainor sovereign. This is reflected by divisions, such as the Véxin Français and the Véxin Normand, the former being within the King of France's domain, the latter being within the Duke of Normandy's fief.

Modern history[edit]

On 4 February 1959, the District of the Paris Region (district de la région de Paris) was created by a government decree. This proved to be a failure due to a lack of cooperation from the communes and the departments of the region, in that they refused to send their representatives to the district council.

The District of the Paris Region was recreated on 2 August 1961 with the same name, but this time by a statute (bill) voted by the French Parliament. The borders of this new region were coterminous with those of the current Île-de-France region. The district council of the aborted 1959 District of the Paris Region was replaced by a Board of Trustees, half of whose members were appointed by the French government, and the other half by the local communes and departments. The executive of the district was a civil servant, the Delegate General for the District of the Paris Region, appointed by the French government.

On 10 August 1966, the Prefecture of the Paris Region were created, whose borders were coterminous with those of the District (and to that of the current Île-de-France region). The Delegate General for the District of the Paris Region was made Prefect of the Paris Region, holding both offices at the same time.

The district was renamed from "district de la région de Paris" to "district de la région parisienne" on 17 December 1966.

The District of the Paris Region was reconstituted into the Île-de-France region on 6 May 1976, thus aligning the status of the region with that of the other French regions, created in 1972. The Prefecture of the Paris Region was renamed Prefecture of Île-de-France (Préfecture de L'Île-de-France). The former Board of Trustees was replaced by a regional council, 70% of whose members were the representatives of the departments and communes of Île-de-France. The remaining 30% were chosen by the Members of the French Parliament whose constituencies lay inside Île-de-France. The regional council elected a president with limited executive powers. The office of Delegate General was abolished. It was said that President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing personally insisted on choosing the name "Île-de-France" for the region, instead of the previously-used Région Parisienne.

On 2 March 1982, Île-de-France, like the other French regions, was turned into a "territorial collectivity". In other words, it was transformed from an administrative region of the state to a full-fledged political entity, on par with the departments and communes. The powers of the regions were expanded, direct elections of the regional councils were scheduled, and the presidents of the regional councils were given full executive powers.

The first direct election of the regional council by the inhabitants of Île-de-France was held on 16 March 1986. The powers and visibility of the region were henceforth greatly increased as the process of devolution and regionalisation increased.


Subprovinces and their principal cities[edit]

The historic subprovinces (pays) of the Isle of France
Coat of arms of the Isle of France

The Île-de-Province was divided into several sub-provinces (French: pays). They were not administrative areas, but historic and cultural areas going back to the Western Roman Empire and readily identified by their inhabitants. Below is a list of the pays which made up the Île-de-France province, with their principal cities:



  • Pierre Bernus, Histoire de l'Île-de-France, Toulouse, Ancienne Librairie Furne, Boivin et Cie, 1971, 599 p.
  • Michel Mollat, Histoire de l'Île-de-France et de Paris, Paris, Privat, coll. " Univers de la France ", 1934, 283 p.

Coordinates: 48°52′N 2°20′E / 48.867°N 2.333°E / 48.867; 2.333