Forez is a former administrative region of France found on the west bank of the Rhone river and extending to the Alps. The ancient tribes of the area were the Ligures, Celts, and Massaliotes.
Forez began as a province of the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC. Its capital at that time was the town of Montbrisson. Under Roman rule, the region enjoyed great prosperity.
The Franks invaded Forez in the 5th century, and divided it into two territories. Later, the area was reunited by the Merovingians.
In the 12th century, the northern and southern parts of Forez split again, forming separate trading regions and revitalizing the area's economy. In the 14th century, development of the transport system linking Forez to St Germain-Laval, and north to Nevers brought even greater prosperity.
The Counts of Bourbon acquired sovereignty over Forez in 1372 and the House of Bourbon maintained its rule for the next two centuries.
Forez was reunited with the Crown of France in 1527 by Francois I. The area suffered greatly from the religious conflicts of 1562-1598 as the traditional Roman Church and the Reformed Church struggled for control. The Roman Church and the Huguenots of the Reformed Church were constantly in conflict one with the other in the province.
Today, with its vibrant populous, rich farmlands, and solid manufacturing base, Forez is a vital part of the French culture and economy.