Digne-les-Bains

Historically Digne is a commune of France

PreHistory

Digne-les-Bains dates back to the Neolithic era. The presence of three rivers, the Bléone, the Mardaric, and the Eaux-Chaudes, made the place ideal for human settlement. Before the Roman conquest, it was the capital of the Bodiontici (fr) (or Brodiontii), whose name is found on theTropaeum Alpium at La Turbie. The town then became a Roman town named Dinia in the 1st century, and became a frequent commercial stop during the Roman era. Following the Romans, it was known as Digna by 780, and was appreciated for its thermal waters.

There are a few rural settlements near to the town, such as the Hôtelleries de Gaubert, southeast of the town, where the excavated building was occupied from the beginning of the 1st century to the end of the 4th century. In this area, at the foot of Le Cousson, the soil has been cultivated continuously, from antiquity right up to the recent reforestation.

Middle Ages

Two separate districts were formed: The town and the city. The town, an ancient site, was surrounded with the castrum of the episcopal chateau built on the Rock. The two neighbourhoods functioned as two independent entities from each other and from their inception. The town remained under the supervision of the provost of the chapter while the city or castrum was of the bishop. The arrival of the Angevins at the head of the County of Provence in 1246 accelerated the recovery process of the comital rights usurped during the previous period by lay or ecclesiastical lords.


The return of the comtal power in the city led to a change in the relationship between local authorities and community: In 1260, the city of Digne was given the right to appoint cominaux responsible for ensuring the management of the city. The consolidation of the two sites was done administratively in 1385 by institutional trustees, replacing the cominaux, responsible for representing both the city and the village. The institution evolved with administrative rationalisation at the beginning of the 15th century.


From 1475, preaching by Franciscans caused several murderous anti-Jewish riots.

French Revolution and the First Empire

The news of the storming of the Bastille was welcomed, this event announced the end of royal arbitrariness and, perhaps, more profound changes in the organization of the France. Immediately after the arrival of the new, a great phenomenon of collective fear seized France, the fear of an aristocratic conspiracy wishing to recover their privileges. Rumors of troops in arms, devastating everything in their path, propagated at high speed, causing shots of weapons, the organization of militias and anti-aristocratic violence. This great fear, arrived in Seyne on 31 July and belonging to the current "fear of the Mâconnais", reached Digne and its region on 31 July 1789 the day before spreading to Riez, where it arrived during the day, and Moustiers and Castellane.

The city was established as the capital of the Basses-Alpes district (fr) from March 1790, to the creation of the departments. The patriotic society (fr) of Digne was founded in September 1790 (the second Department by seniority); it was affiliated with the Jacobins in June 1791, and became a relay of the club in the Department, accepting the affiliations of many clubs in the Basses-Alpes. It also received the request of affiliation of Carpentras. First called Bourgeois Alcove, it then took the name of Patriotic Club, then on October 9, 1792, Société des amis de la Constitution, de la Liberté, de l’Égalité [Society of friends of the Constitution, of freedom, of equality]. It established a committee of correspondence responsible for relations with other popular societies affiliated on 14 November 1792. On 10 and 11 January 1793, General Peyron (fr) performed a descent from Marseilles, supported by the Marseille club-goers with weapons. He took revenge because he was unable to obtain the post of attorney general trustee, two departmental administrators were removed

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and a fine of 13,000 livres paid to the Marseille club.


In 1792-1793, the section of Digne was controlled by the federalists (fr). In connection with the section of Marseille, it disseminated the ideas of the Girondists, until their proscription on 31 May 1793 and the crushing of the federalist insurrection in July, which resulted in a sentence to death in Digne.

On 5 frimaire year III, the Représentant en mission Gauthier (fr) purified the society.

Digne welcomed the prefecture under the Consulate. The very popular prefect Lameth (1802-1805), created a shaded promenade between Pré de Foire and the banks of the Bléone and planted plane trees on the boulevard Gassendi.



In early March, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte passed through Digne-les-Bains on his way from imprisonment on the island of Elba, gathering support as he moved north. This was early in his Hundred Days which ended with his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo

World War 2

The first resistance fighters were a group organized around Simone Pellissier who distributed the journal Combat, from 1941. On 1 May 1942, she laid a wreath at the war memorial, during a demonstration; she was arrested the next day. with six other protesters.

Digne was occupied by Italy, then by the German army, following the invasion of the free zone, after the landing of the Allies in North Africa on 8 November 1942. Thirty-four Jews were arrested in Digne before being deported.


With the dissolution of the Armée de Vichy (fr), Commandant Chaumont of the 20th bataillon de chasseurs alpins (fr) began to structure the localOrganisation de résistance de l'armée (ORA).

Liberation

On 16 August 1944, the city was bombed by P-47 Thunderbolts, which took off from field close to Bastia Corsica. Their goal was the great bridge of Digne, crossing the Bléone, but only a single bomb reached the bridge, impeding the passage of vehicles for only a few hours. Several buildings were damaged.


The bombing killed twenty-four civilians and two Germans


(25 in total according to Jean Garcin). The city was liberated on 19 August 1944


by Task Force Butler, a motorized detachment of armoured elements, infantry and artillery from the 36th U.S. "Texas" infantry division and the 45th U.S. infantry division, assisted by the forces of the Resistance.


The release of Digne was part of a movement of circumvention of the Rhône Valley, across the Alps, by the Route Napoléon, entrusted to Task Force Butler and which aimed to cut the retreat of the German army stationed in Provence. In Aspres-sur-Buëch, the column moved westward, in the direction of the Rhône and Crest (Battle of Montelimar). The fighting was in the day, with six killed and eleven wounded on the Allied side and at least 21 killed on the German side. German soldiers who fell during the fighting for the liberation of Digne were buried in the German military square of the cemetery of the village, with the other soldiers killed during the occupation, during various battles against the forces of Resistance. In March 1958, their bodies were exhumed and transferred to the German military cemetery of Dagneux ain Ain.

Immediately after the Liberation, the cleanup began. Executions after trials (with a judge, but without lawyers) took place.



The German prisoner of war camp had up to 2,700 prisoners.


One of them participated in the rescue expedition after the double air disaster of the Montagne du Cheval Blanc (fr) in 1948.