The Social, Political and Cultural History of an International Prestige Language
4. Knowledge of French in Piedmont
Piedmont as a borderland
The geographical position of Piedmont has always shaped the region’s destiny as a borderland with a dual personality. Situated in the corner of Italy protected by Europe’s highest mountain range, Piedmont has been the gateway to the peninsula from the north and the west, serving, thanks to the Alpine passes, as a bridge linking the Italo-Romance and the Gallo-Romance worlds. The latter world, moreover, is contained within its own modern boundaries by the broad area of Provençal and Franco-Provençal varieties which straddles the Alps. The linguistic situation in Piedmont is the outcome of the history of territory that is connected to France by a common Celtic substratum but that has been separated from France and split internally, since the age of Augustus, into three great zones. The Roman province of Transpadua (regio XI Transpadana) in the north was set against the province of Liguria (regio IX Liguria) to the south and these provinces were bounded in the west by the Alpine territory of King Cottius astride the mountain ridge.1 The Middle Ages further increased this fragmentation, which by the year 1000 had come to be manifested in the formation of the Piedmontese marches (the Marca Aleramica, the Marca Anscarica, the Marca Arduinica and the Marca Obertenga).
In the Middle Ages several small states came into being in this region. First, after long and bitter disputes in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, an independent state emerged which possessed territory both on...
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