Quiet and tranquil now, the Dordogne region has had a tumultuous past. This history has left its mark all over the region, so before any visit to the region it is useful to have a brief understanding of the history of the area, so that the caves and the castles, the culture and the heritage, are set in context.
There are several significant stages to the history of the Dordogne region:
Prehistory: Starting from the earliest inhabitants in the region almost 500,000 years ago, and continuing through to 2500 years ago, the period gave rise to the renowned artwork of the caves of the region...Dordogne prehistory
Invasion (1): there then followed centuries of invasion in the region. Firstly the celts streamed across the region, then soon after the Romans dislodged them and established their own settlements in the Dordogne...Celts and Roman invasions
Invasion (2): the Romans were eventually defeated by a series of further invasions from the east...vandal invasions
Middle Ages: The battles then became more internal to the region and to France (and endless wars with the English), and the middle ages in the Dordogne were racked by conflict - especially the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion...Middle ages in the Dordogne
Peasant revolts: The consequence of all these centuries of conflict and battles was that the region was racked by extreme poverty, giving rise to successive revolts during the 16th-18th centuries...peasant revolts
Revolution: The centuries of troubles, poverty and war reached an end with the period of the French revolution and the period of Napoleon...revolution
Since these troubling times the Dordogne area has stopped being an important area for trade and commerce though agriculture and wine are still important to the local economy. Now the sleepy charm of many of the villages, the extraordinary evidence of its incredible history in the form of caves, castles and medieval villages and the stunning beauty of the river valleys has made this a popular destination for tourists from around the world.