|Province of Kingdom of France|
Champagne (French pronunciation: [pa?]) was a province in the northeast of the Kingdom of France, now best known as the Champagne wine region for the sparkling white wine that bears its name in modern-day France. The County of Champagne, descended from the early medieval kingdom of Austrasia, passed to the French crown in 1314.
Formerly ruled by the counts of Champagne, its western edge is about 160 km (100 miles) east of Paris. The cities of Troyes, Reims, and Épernay are the commercial centers of the area. In 1956, most of Champagne became part of the French administrative region of Champagne-Ardenne, which comprised four departments: Ardennes, Aube, Haute-Marne, and Marne. From 1 January 2016, Champagne-Ardenne merged with the adjoining regions of Alsace and Lorraine to form the new region of Grand Est.
The name Champagne, formerly written Champaigne, comes from the Latin campania and referred to the similarities between the rolling hills of the province and the Italian countryside of Campania located south of Rome. Campania means "Land of Plains" in Latin.
In the High Middle Ages, the province was famous for the Champagne fairs, which were very important in the economy of the Western societies. The chivalric romance had its first beginnings in the county of Champagne with the famous writer Chrétien de Troyes who wrote stories of the Round Table from the Arthurian legends.
A few counts of Champagne were French kings with the comital title merging with the French crown in 1314 when Louis I, king of Navarre and count of Champagne, became king of France as Louis X. Counts of Champagne were highly considered by the French aristocracy.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, there were six fairs in Champagne, lasting 49 days each. At these fairs, cloth from the north was exchanged for spices, dyes, and precious objects from southern European lands. Transactions at the fairs were often made via a credit system. However, due to political disruption in Champagne from the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), fairs became less important.