We stayed in Avignon today and got our bearings checking out restaurants and going on a city tour in a little train. Here is the history of the city and how it became the papal site instead of Rome. Since the return to Rome of the Papal Seat, there have been no French Popes.
Between 1309 and 1377 during the Avignon Papacy, seven successive popes resided in Avignon and in 1348 Pope Clement VI bought the town from Joanna I of Naples. Papal control persisted until 1791 when, during the French Revolution, it became part of France. The town is now the capital of the Vaucluse department and one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts.
In 1309 the city, still part of the Kingdom of Arles, was chosen by Pope Clement V as his residence at the time of the Council of Vienne and, from 9 March 1309 until 13 January 1377, Avignon rather than Rome was the seat of the Papacy. At the time the city and its surroundings (the Comtat Venaissin) were ruled by the kings of Sicily of the House of Anjou. The French King Philip the Fair, who had inherited from his father all the rights of Alphonse de Poitiers (the last Count of Toulouse), made them over to Charles II, King of Naples and Count of Provence (1290). Nonetheless, Philip was a shrewd ruler. Inasmuch as the eastern banks of the Rhone marked the edge of his kingdom, when the river flooded up into the city of Avignon, Philip taxed the city since during periods of flood, the city technically lay within his domain.
Avignon became the Pontifical residence under Pope Clement V in 1309. His successor, John XXII, a former bishop of the diocese, made it the capital of Christianity and transformed his former episcopal palace into the primary Palace of the Popes. It was Benedict XII who built the Old Palace and his successor Clement VI the New Palace. He bought the town on 9 June 1348 from Joanna I of Naples, the Queen of Naples and Countess of Provence for 80,000 florins. Innocent VI endowed the ramparts.