Aigues-Mortes is a French commune in the Gard department in the Occitanie region of southern France. The medieval city walls surrounding the city are well preserved; the inhabitants of the commune are known as Aigues-Mortaises. Aigues-Mortes is located in the Petite Camargue some 90 km northwest of Marseille. By road, Aigues-Mortes is about 33 km southwest of Nîmes, 20 km east of Montpellier in a direct line. Access to the commune is by route D979 coming south from Saint-Laurent-d'Aigouze to Aigues-Mortes town. Route D979 continues southwest through the commune to Le Grau-du-Roi. Route D62 starts from Aigues-Mortes heading southwest parallel to D979 before turning eastwards and forming part of the southern border of the commune. Route D62A continues to Plan d'Eau du Vidourie; the commune is composed of a portion of the wet lakes of the Petite Camargue. It is separated from the Gulf of Lions by the town of Le Grau-du-Roi, however Aigues-Mortes is connected to the sea through the Canal du Rhône à Sète.
There is only one other hamlet in the commune called Mas de Jarras Listel on the western border. The Canal du Rhône à Sète enters the commune from the northwest and the northeast in two branches from the main canal to the north and the branches intersect in the town of Aigues-Mortes before exiting as a single canal alongside route D979 and feeding into the Mediterranean Sea at Le Grau-du-Roi. A rail branch line from Nîmes passes through Aigues-Mortes from north-east to south-west, with a station in the town of Aigues-Mortes, to its terminus on the coast at Le-Grau-du-Roi; this line transports sea salt. The communes of Saint-Laurent-d'Aigouze and Le Grau-du-Roi are adjacent to the town of Aigues-Mortes, its inhabitants are called Aigues-Mortise. Aigues-Mortes is one of 79 member communes of the Schéma de cohérence territoriale of South Gard and is one of 34 communes in the Pays Vidourle-Camargue. Aigues-Mortes is one of the four communes of the Loi littoral of SCoT in the South of Gard. Attested in the Latinized form Aquae Mortuae in 1248.
The name comes from the Occitan Aigas Mortas meaning "dead water", or "stagnant water" equivalent to toponymic types in the Morteau Oil dialect cf. Morteau: mortua Aqua and Morteaue: mortua Aqua; the name comes from the Aigues-Mortes marshes and ponds that stretch around the village and the fact that there has never been potable water at Aigues-Mortes. Grau comes from the Occitan grau meaning "pond with extension". Grau du Roy in French means "pond of the King"; the foundation of the city is said to have been by Gaius Marius, around 102BC but there is no documentary evidence to support this. A Roman by the name of Peccius fitted out the first salt marsh and gave his name to the Marsh of Peccais. Salt mining started from the Neolithic period and was continued in the Hellenistic period, but the ancient uses of saline have not resulted in any major archaeological discovery, it is that any remains were destroyed by modern saline facilities. In 791, Charlemagne erected the Matafère tower amid the swamps for the safety of fishermen and salt workers.
Some argue that the signaling and transmission of news was not foreign to the building of this tower, designed to give warning in case of arrival of a fleet, as for the Magne Tower at Nîmes. The purpose of this tower was part of the war plan and spiritual plan which Charlemagne granted at the Benedictine abbey, dedicated to Opus Dei and whose incessant chanting and night, was to designate the convent as Psalmody or Psalmodi; this monastery still existed in 812, as confirmed by an act of endowment made by the Badila from Nîmes at the abbey. At that time, the people lived in reed huts and made their living from fishing and salt production from several small salt marshes along the sea shore; the region was under the rule of the monks from the Abbey of Psalmody. In 1240, Louis IX, who wanted to get rid of the influence of the Italian navy for transporting troops to the Crusades, focused on the strategic position of his kingdom. At that time, Marseille belonged to his brother Charles of Anjou, King of Naples, Count of Toulouse, Montpellier, King of Aragon.
Louis IX wanted direct access to the Mediterranean Sea. He obtained the town and the surrounding lands by exchange of properties with the monks of the abbey. Residents were exempt from the salt tax, levied so that they can now take the salt unconstrained, he built a road between the marshes and built the Carbonnière Tower to serve as a watchtower and protect access to the city. Saint-Louis built the Constance Tower on the site of the old Matafère Tower, to house the garrison. In 1272, his son and successor, Philip III the Bold, ordered the continuation of the construction of walls to encircle the small town; the work would not be completed for another 30 years. This was the city from which Louis IX twice departed for the Crusades: the Seventh Crusade in 1248 and again for the Eighth Crusade in 1270 for Tunis where he died of dysentery; the year 1270 has been established, mistakenly for many historians, as the last step of a process initiated at the end of the 11th century. The judgment is hasty because the transfer of crusaders or mercenaries from the harbour of Aigues-Mortes continued after this year.
The order given in 1275 to Sir Guillaume de Roussillon by Philip III the Bold and Pope Gregory X after the Council of Lyons in 1274 to reinforce Saint-Jean d'Acre in the East shows that maritime activity continued for a ninth crusade which never took place. There is a popular belief that the sea reached Aigues-Mortes in 1270
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