Provence, an ancient province of S. E. France, bounded N. by Dauphiny and Venais-sin, E. by the Alps, S. by the Mediterranean, and W. by Languedoc. It was a part of the territory to which the Romans gave the name of Provincia, and was divided into Upper and Lower Provence, watered by the Rhône, Durance, and Var, and celebrated for its delightful climate and rich fruits, though the soil is somewhat arid. Its capital was Aix. It now forms the departments of Basses-Alpes, Bouches-du-Rhône, and Var, and a part of those of Drome, Vaucluse, and Alpes-Mari-times. - This territory passed into the hands of the Visigoths in the 5th century, and of the Ostrogoths in the 6th, and, after being for a while in the possession of Austrasia, fell to Lothaire on the division of the empire of Charlemagne. In the latter part of the 9th century it formed part of Cisjurane Burgundy, and in the 10th of the kingdom of Aries, which was subsequently united to Germany; but Provence meanwhile was governed by virtually independent counts, who about 1063 became hereditary.
In the middle of the 13th century it passed by marriage into the possession of Charles of Anjou, afterward king of Naples. The last count, Charles, grandson of Rene the Good, bequeathed it in 1481 to Louis XL, and it was united to the crown of France by Charles VIII. in 1486.