City in central France, WNW of Nevers and ESE of Orleans. It was the chief city of the Biturges, a Celtic people, and became the Roman city of Avaricum, the capital of the Roman province of Aquitania, and then of Aquitania Prima. Later it was the capital of the French province of Berry, and in the Ancien Régime was the seat of the intendant for the généralité of Bourges. Since 1790 it has been the capital of the Department of the Cher. It has also been the seat of an Archbishop for many centuries.
The office of Count of Berry was not filled after Carolingian times; the Archbishops of Bourges were therefore the greatest princes in Berry, but they tended to be cautious. There was also a Vicomte of Bourges. In 1101 King Philip I bought the rights of the Vicomte, who intended to go on crusade, and thereby began the extension of the royal domain beyond the immediate vicinity of the Loire.
Charles VII was made Duke of Berry in youth; his rights of succession to the throne of France were signed away in the Treaty of Troyes, 1420, so that when his father died in 1422, the infant Henry VI was proclaimed King of France. Large parts of France however supported the rights of the dispossessed Charles and he made his capital at Bourges. The King of Bourges, the English and the Burgundians derisively called him – but it was Charles VII who had the last laugh.
The généralité of Bourges was first established in 1542, its size being reduced during the 16th century with the creation of the généralités of Moulins and Limoges, thereby confining it to Berry, with parts of Bourbonnais and La Marche.
The province of the Archbishop was the old Roman province of Aquitania Prima, until the promotion of Albi to the rank of Archbishopric removed the south of that region in 1678.