- City in Southern France situated on the left bank of the Rhone River. In 1309, Pope Clement V, who had been living in France since 1306, moved the papal seat from Rome to Avignon, thus initiating the Babylonian Captivity that was to last until 1377. He did this to avoid the constant conflicts caused by the rivaling factions of Rome and intrusions from the Holy Roman Emperor. During this time, seven popes reigned in Avignon, all of French nationality. When Clement decided to move to Avignon, the city did not belong to the French crown but rather to Charles II D'Anjou, king of Naples and Count of Provence. In 1348, Queen Joanna I of Sicily, Countess of Provence, sold the city to the papacy, an ownership that lasted until 1791, when Avignon was incorporated into the French territory. Under the popes, Avignon flourished. Its population increased to approximately 40,000 inhabitants and the presence of the pontiffs ensured a building and economic boom. Cardinals built their palaces there and, in 1335, the Papal Palace was also constructed. This prosperity attracted artists such as Simone Martini and literary figures such as Petrarch, both of whom benefited immensely from papal patronage during their stay in the city.
Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. Lilian H. Zirpolo. 2008.