When Lyon was called Lugdunum
Just heading south east from Roanne, where you just had your French courses in France, you will not be able to miss the country’s third city by its population : Lyon.
The city is known mainly for its gastronomy and the number of chefs it provided to French cuisine.
But the history of Lyon is deeply rooted in France’s one. During the time of the Roman empire, ot was called Lugdunum, which means the hill or the fortress of the god Lugus, who was a Gaullish deity, widely recognized as the local equivalent of the Roman god Mercury. The city’s strategic importance, at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, made it so prevalent that it became the capital city of the roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis, a region that went from Lyon up to the north of what is now modern France… thus including Paris!
Yes, the French capital of French cooking was once the actual capital of what is now most of France, the Capital of the Gauls. Claudius and Caracalla, two roman emperors, were even born in Ludgunum.
To understand its position, Lugdunum is linked to the conquest of Gaul by the Roman Empire. Thus, eight years after the Battle of Alesia in 52 BC, that symbolizes the defeat of the gaulish tribes united by their leader Vercingetorix, that saw the victory of the Roman legions, the colony was founded under the Roman senate order.
The governor of Gaul Lucius Munatius Plancus was in charge of that task, thus explaining the original and full name of the city Colonia Copia Felix Munatia Lugudunum. Oh! You may have noticed that in this version of the same, it is not Lugdunum, but LugUdunum with an extra “U”. Both versions are correct even if the first is the one most commonly known.
The location of the city made it a strategic point to prevent invasions from the North and the East and block the road leading to the Italian peninsula.
During the first two centuries of Lugdunum, its population reached around 100,000 thousands people. If you want to learn more about French History, check it out at our last French History Course.