Geographical region in eastern France, an extensive plain lying south of the River Doubs, east of the River Saône, west of the Jura Mountains and north of the region called the Dombes. The County of Bresse, on the other hand, was only in the south of geographical Bresse, lying west of the River Ain, with part of it lying south of the Dombes, between the Rhône and the Ain.
The political division of the Bresse is an ancient one, going back to the early days of the Kingdom of France, when the northern Bresse, or the Bresse chalonaise, which lay across the Saône from the town of Chalon, became part of the County of Chalon. This put northern Bresse in the Duchy of Burgundy, and today it is in the Département of Saône-et-Loire.
Southern Bresse, on the other hand, was part of the Kingdom of Burgundy (from 1032 of the Holy Roman Empire) and was held by several lords, including those of Thoire, Coligny, and, most important, of Baugé (or Bagé). In 1272 the heiress of Baugé, Sybil, married the future Amadeus V of Savoy, bringing control of the southern Bresse to Savoy, which already held Bugey and Valromey, lands to the east of the Ain.
Philip, one of several sons of Duke Louis (d.1465), was Count of Bresse, and later Duke of Savoy (1496-7). France occupied Bresse along with practically all Savoy, 1536-59, and in 1601 received Bresse and Bugey in exchange for recognising Savoy’s claims to Saluzzo.
BRESSE & BUGEY formed a separate gouvernement during their temporary stay in France in the mid-16th century, but after the annexation of 1601 they were attached to the gouvernement of Burgundy. In financial administration they were also attached to Burgundy in the généralité of Dijon.
Unlike the rest of Burgundy, Bresse & Bugey was a pays d’élection and so had no estates, so that the Intendant alone was responsible for determining the allocation of taxes, particularly the taille.
Since 1790 the former County of Bresse has belonged to the Department of the Ain.