CHAMPAGNE, an ancient province of the kingdom of France, bounded N. by Liége and Luxemburg; E. by Lorraine; S. by Burgundy; and W. by Picardy and Isle de France. It now forms the departments of Ardennes, Marne, Aube and Haute Marne, with part of Aisne, Seine-et-Marne, Yonne and Meuse. Its name - in Latin Campania, "country of plains" - is derived from the immense plains near Reims, Châlons and Troyes. It was constituted towards the end of the middle ages by joining to the countship of Champagne the ecclesiastical duchies of Reims and Langres, together with the ecclesiastical countship of Châlons. Documents of the 12th and 13th centuries make it possible to determine the territorial configuration of the countship of Champagne with greater accuracy than in the case of any other fief of the crown of France. Formed at random by the acquisitions of the counts of the houses of Vermandois and Blois, Champagne reckoned among its dependencies, from 1152 to 1234, the countship of Blois and Chartres, of which Touraine was a fief, the countship of Sancerre, and various scattered fiefs in the Bourbonnais and in Burgundy. Officially called the "countship of Champagne and Brie" since 1217, this state was formed by the union of the countships of Troyes and Meaux, to which the greater part of the districts embraced in the country known, since the beginning of the middle ages, by the name of Champagne and Brie came in course of time to be attached. Placed under the authority of a single count in 960, the countships of Troyes and Meaux were not again separated after 1125. For the counts of Troyes before the 11th century see Troyes. We confine ourselves here to the counts of Champagne of the house of Blois.
About 1020 Eudes or Odo I. (Odo II., count of Blois) became count of Champagne. He disputed the kingdom of Burgundy with the emperor Conrad, and died in 1037, in a battle near Bar-le-Duc. In 1037 he was succeeded by his younger son, Stephen II. About 1050 Odo II., son of Stephen II., became count. This prince, guilty of murder, found refuge in Normandy, where he received the castle of Aumale. He took part in 1066 in the conquest of England, and became earl of Holderness. About 1063 Theobald (Thibaud) I., count of Blois and Meaux, eldest son of Odo I., became count of Champagne. In 1077 he seized the countships of Vitry and Bar-sur-Aube, left vacant by Simon of Valois, who had retired to a monastery. In 1089 Odo III., second son of Theobald II., became count, and was succeeded about 1093 by his younger brother, Hugh, who became a templar in 1125, and gave up the countship to his suzerain, the count of Blois. In 1125 the countship of Champagne passed to Theobald II. the Great, already count of Blois and Meaux, and one of the most powerful French barons of his time. He was related to the royal house of England, and incurred the displeasure of the king of France, who in 1142 invaded Champagne and burnt the town of Vitry. After Theobald the Great the countship of Blois ceased to be the dominant fief of his house and became the appanage of a younger branch. In 1152 Henry the Liberal, eldest son of Theobald II., became count of Champagne; he married Mary, daughter of Louis VII. of France, and went to the crusade in 1178. He was taken prisoner by the Turks, recovered his liberty through the good offices of the emperor of the East, and died a few days after his return to Champagne. In 1181 his eldest son, Henry II., succeeded him under the tutelage of Mary of France. In 1190 he went to the Holy Land, and became king of Jerusalem in 1192 by his marriage with Isabelle, widow of the marquis of Montferrat. He died in 1197 in his town of Acre from the results of an accident. In 1197 Theobald III., younger son of Henry I., became count, and was succeeded in 1201 by Theobald IV., "le Chansonnier" (the singer), who was the son of Theobald III. and Blanche of Navarre, and was born some days after the death of his father. From 1201 to 1222 he remained under the tutelage of his mother, who governed Champagne with great sagacity. The reign of this prince was singularly eventful. The two daughters of count Henry II. successively claimed the countship, so that Theobald had to combat the claims of Philippa, wife of Erard of Brienne, seigneur of Rameru, from 1216 to 1222, and those of Alix, queen dowager of Cyprus, in 1233 and 1234. In 1226 he followed king Louis VII. to the siege of Avignon, and after the death of that monarch played a prominent part during the reign of St Louis. At first leagued with the malcontent barons, he allowed himself to be gained over by the queen-mother, and thus came into collision with his old allies. He became king of Navarre in 1234 by the death of his maternal uncle, Sancho VII. but by the onerous treaty which he concluded in that year with the queen of Cyprus he was compelled to cede to the king, in return for a large sum of money, the overlordship of the countships of Blois, Chartres and Sancerre, and the viscounty of Châteaudun. In 1239 and 1240 he took part in an expedition to the Holy Land, probably accompanied St Louis in 1242 in the campaign of Saintonge against the English, and died on the 14th of July 1254 at Pampeluna. If the author of the Grandes chroniques de France can be believed, Theobald IV. conceived a passion for Queen Blanche, the mother of St Louis, - a passion which she returned, and which explains the changes in his policy; but this opinion apparently must be relegated to the category of historical fables. The witty and courtly songs he composed place him in the front rank of the poets of that class, in which he showed somewhat more originality than his rivals. In 1254 Theobald V. the Young, eldest son of Theobald IV. and, like his father, king of Navarre, became count of Champagne. He married Isabelle of France, daughter of St Louis, and followed his father-in-law to Tunis to the crusade, dying on his return. In 1270 he was succeeded by Henry III. the Fat, king of Navarre. Henry was succeeded in 1274 by his only daughter, Joan of Navarre, under the tutelage of her mother, Blanche of Artois, and afterwards of Edmund, earl of Lancaster, her mother's second husband. In 1284 she married the heir-presumptive to the throne of France, Philip the Fair, to whom she brought the countship of Champagne as well as the kingdom of Navarre. She became queen of France in 1285, and died on the 4th of April 1305, when her eldest son by King Philip, Louis Hutin, became count of Champagne. He was the last independent count of the province, which became attached to the French crown on his accession to the throne of France in 1314.
The celebrated fairs of Champagne, which flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries, were attended by merchants from all parts of civilized Europe. They were six in number: two at Troyes, two at Provins, one at Lagny-sur-Marne, and one at Bar-sur-Aube. They formed a kind of continuous market, divided into six periods, and passed in turn from Lagny to Bar, from Bar to Provins, from Provins to Troyes, from Troyes to Provins and from Provins to Troyes, to complete the year. It was, in fact, a perpetual fair, which had at once unity and variety, offering to the different parts of the countship the means of selling successively the special productions of their soil or their industry, and of procuring in exchange riches and comforts. These fairs had special legislation; and special magistrates, called "masters of the fairs," had control of the police.
For the wine "champagne" see Wine.
Authorities. - H. d'Arbois de Jubainville, Histoire des ducs et des comtes de Champagne (1859-1866); A. Longnon, Documents relatifs au comté de Champagne et de Brie (1901 seq.; vol. i. with map); F. Bourquelot, Etudes sur les foires de Champagne (1865).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)