FROM CAESAR TO CLOVIS | Tourisme Orléans



The site of Orléans has been occupied since Antiquity. The Loire, which could be crossed at this point, was the reason for development of an active city on the river bank that doesn't flood, to the north.

In the 3rd century BCE, Orléans was an oppidum of the Gauls, called Cenabum, a successful stronghold of the Carnutes, where port and trading activities prospered. 

In 52 BC, during the war of the Gauls, Cenabum was conquered by  Caesar, who then took over control of the bridge.

The city became Aurelianis in the 4th century CE and in 451 thanks to its bishop, Aignan, it repelled the invasion of the Huns commanded by Attila. 

In 511, Clovis held council here by uniting the bishops of the Gauls. The role and power of the latter were redefined. It was the start of the alliance of the church and royalty.

Rempart gallo-romain


Under the reign of the sons of Clovis, Orléans became the centre of one of four kingdoms that made up the territory of the Franks.

The city then became a capital of Carolingian Neustria. Bishop Théodulfe, minister of Charlemagne, played an important role for the city: he developed education for the clerics and had a hospice built.

In 848, king Charles the Bald was elected and then crowned in Orléans.

Under the reign of the Capetians, other coronations took place here: Robert the Pious, son of Hugues Capet, in 987, and Louis VI, in 1108.

In the 12th century, Paris became the capital of the kingdom. However, Orléans continued to make a fortune from its wines and its situation at the crossroads between land and waterways.

In 1344, king Philip VI created the duchy of Orléans which was given to the king's youngest son. Under Charles VI, the issuance of a new charter (2 March 1385) granted official municipal administration and autonomous financial management to Orléans.


Orléans already had well-known schools when in 1306, Pope Clément V, who studied there, and king Philip The Fair converted them into a university.

The city took advantage of the ban, in place since 1273, on teaching Roman law in Paris to attract young people, sometimes from far afield, to study this discipline. The district south of the cathedral was transformed to accommodate students and professors.

The university started to decline in the early 17th century. This decline intensified in 1679 with the reopening of Roman law classes in Paris. Removed during the Revolution, like the other universities, the university of Orléans was reborn as La Source in 1966.

The city remembers its famous students: Jean Calvin, Erasmus, Rabelais and, later, Charles Perrault and La Bruyère…


The Hundred Years’ War, both a war of succession and a civil war, reached a peak in the years 1411-1435.

Enemies, exhausted both financially and militarily, fought around Orléans in a politically confused situation. Joan of Arc’s arrival in the city in 1429 boosted morale of French troupes, who went on to drive the English away from Orléans after a seven-month siege. Charles VII was then crowned in Reims and, with his troupes, began to reconquer the kingdom, despite the drawback of Joan of Arc's capture (May 1430) and her death (May 1431).



Sources: Orléans Mairie – City of Art and History Department