Development through the ages
When Eleanor, the Duchess of Aquitaine and Count of Poitiers, married Henry of Anjou (having had her marriage to the French, King Louis VII, annulled), she had effective control over a region extending from the Dordogne to the Pyrénées. Henry of Anjou became Henry II, King of England, and the Dordogne region fell under English control. Henry II went by the title "King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou".
English rule was hugely successful, perhaps because of the region's distance from London. The region's towns and cities grew, its farming industry expanded, as did its wine production. When there was a crisis over French rights to the throne, following the death of Charles IV in 1328, the English seized on this opportunity to pronounce King Edward III (nephew of Charles IV) as the French heir. The French retaliated, interpreting the law differently and crowned Philippe de Valois as King of France. King Philippe successfully regained much of the territory once ruled by the English, under the Duchy of Aquitaine. Regaining control of this region became important to the English and hence the start of the Hundred Years' War.
After the fighting subsided, this south-westerly region of France eventually gained more independence back with the establishment of its own parliament and continued fighting for power amongst the aristocratic land owners. During the calmer periods of the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the Castillon plain on the banks of the Dordogne saw a development in urban architecture. Fine Gothic and Renaissance-style residences were built in the main towns of Périgueux, Bergerac and Sarlat. In the countryside, the nobility built more than 1200 chateaux, manors and country houses.
Significant peasant uprisings characterised the 17th century. But the establishment of a French empire around the world in the 18th century saw fortunes change