MARCHE, FRANCE, (or LA MARCHE), one of the former provinces of France. It owes its name to its position, it having been in the 10th century a march or border district between the duchy of Aquitaine and the domains of the Prankish kings in central France. Sometimes it was called the Marche Limousine, and originally it was a small district cut partly from Limousin and partly from Poitou. Its area was increased during the 13th century, after which, however, it remained unaltered until the time of the Revolution. It was bounded on the N. by Berry; on the E. by Bourbonnais and Auvergne; on the S. by Limousin; and on the W. by Poitou. It embraced the greater part of the modern department of Creuse, a considerable part of Haute Vienne, and a fragment of Indre. Its area was about 1900 sq. m.; its capital was Charroux and later Gueret, and among its other principal towns were Dorat, Bellac and Confolens.
Marche first appears as a separate fief about the middle of the 10th century when William III., duke of Aquitaine, gave it to one of his vassals named Boso, who took the title of count. In the 12th century it passed to the counts of Limousin, and this house retained it until the death of the childless Count Hugh in 1303, when it was seized by the French king, Philip IV. In 1316 it was made a duchy for Prince Charles, afterwards King Charles IV., and a few years later (1327) it passed into the hands of the family of Bourbon. The family of Armagnac held it from 1435 to 1477, when it reverted to the Bourbons, and in 1527 it was seized by Francis I. and became part of the domains of the French crown. It was divided into Haute Marche and Basse Marche, the estates of the former being in existence until the 17th century. From 1470 until the Revolution the province was under the jurisdiction of the parlement of Paris.
See A. Thomas, Les fctats pravinciaux de la France centrale (1879).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)