According to ancient legends, the city was founded by the Phoenicians, to whom we also owe the birth of Marseilles. The ancient name of Orange was ‘Arausio’ or ‘Arusio.
The ‘real’ story of Orange starts with the arrival of the Romans who left their indelible traces on the city: it was here that Julius Caesar settled his veterans of the Second Legion. Under the Romans Orange was a splendid city, and one that has left many traces that can still be seen today.
The centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire were a very difficult time for Orange, and it was invaded by numerous peoples barbarians including the Alamanni and the Visigoths.
At the end of the eighth century, Charlemagne recognized the importance of Orange, and entrusted its government to William au-Cornet, one of his men who had distinguished himself in the wars against the Saracens. To the same William the town owes its coat of arms, depicting a ‘horn’ (as in William au ‘Cornet’).
Between the twelfth and fourteenth century, Orange was ruled by several noble families; it was first incorporated in Venassin County, whose overlord was the troubadour Rimbaut of Orange, and then by the Baux and Chalons.
Towards the middle of the sixteenth century the city passed to the Princes of Nassau, and then, when William Henry of Nassau became King of England in 1689 it was rules by the Princes of Orange-Nassau, who governed until the Peace of Utrecht (1713) – at which time the principality was incorporated into French territory by the ‘Sun King, Louis XIV.