chapter  One
The province of Champagne
Pages 22

In Roman times, the major route from Italy to the Channel led through Champagne. The single, dominating fact which governed the political life of Champagne in the sixteenth century was that it was a frontier province. Historically, as well, there seems little special about the province, at least since the decline of the great commercial fairs of the Middle Ages and the absorption of the territory of the Counts of Champagne into the royal domain in the thirteenth century. Although there is little in Champagne that poses a real geographic obstacle, topography does have a certain subtle influence, most dramatically evident in travelling in an east-west direction. Once on the plains of Champagne crayeuse, there were no significant obstacles to north-south passage. In general terms, however, Champagne’s position as a frontier province, and its general lack of easily fortified strongholds produced several results.