- Medieval County around the city of Avignon, which stands on the River Rhône in Provence in southeastern France;
- A Bishopric and Archbishopric.
1. Avignon was a Roman city (Avenio), which later belonged to the Middle Kingdom of the Emperor Lothar (843), to the Kingdom of Provence, and to the united Kingdom of Burgundy (933). In that Kingdom, Provence was an important county, which was quite often held jointly by brothers. Avignon was usually a residence of one of the Counts.
Later the County of Provence became partitioned among heirs, but the city and county of Avignon remained united and were jointly held by the two or three Counts. This system was still operating in the third quarter of the 13th century when two brothers of Louis IX, Alphonse and Charles were respectively Marquis and Count of Provence, both by marriage with the heiresses. They both held Avignon. It was in 1291 that King Philip IV the Fair, who had succeeded to the Marquisate, ceded his rights to his cousin, King Charles II of Naples.
Earlier Avignon had actually been held for a time from 1226 by a Papal legate, after the city, besieged by King Louis VIII, had surrendered on terms, but this arrangement had provoked the intervention of the Emperor Frederick II, in whose Kingdom of Burgundy Avignon lay, and Avignon had then reverted to being jointly held by the Count and Marquis of Provence. In 1309 the Papal connection was resumed when Pope Clement V, who held the neighbouring Comtat Venaissin, took up residence in Avignon. The city was bought from the impoverished Queen Joanna of Naples, the ruler of Provence, by the Pope in 1348. The Babylonish Captivity of the Church came to an end in 1376, and the Pope returned to Rome, but by 1379 there were two Popes, and the French-favoured Pontiff, Clement VII, returned to Avignon. The Great Schism lasted until 1417.
Avignon remained Papal territory, as did the Comtat Venaissin, until 1791, when both were annexed by revolutionary France and in 1793 became the larger part of the Department of Vaucluse, of which Avignon is capital.
2. The diocese of Avignon was an ancient one and was long part of the province of Arles, including the period when the Popes resided in the city. In 1475 Pope Sixtus IV detached it and the other dioceses in his possession in the Comtat Venaissin (Carpentras, Vaison and Cavaillon) to form the province of Avignon. In 1793, with the Papal territory annexed by France and transformed into the Département of Vaucluse, Avignon, reduced to a Bishopric, became the diocese for the department. In 1822 the diocese was again headed by an Archbishop, whose province included the dioceses of Montpellier, Nîmes, Viviers and Valence.