Vassallaggi is a Sicilian prehistoric Bronze Age archaeological site which had a later flourishing after the 7th century BC as a phrourion (fortress). The site is located in the middle of the Salso river valley, at 704 m above sea level, in a strategic location for communication between the southern coast of Sicily and the northern part of the island.
The site first developed in the Bronze Age (18th-14th centuries BC), from which time some cave tombs of the Castelluccio culture survive and a circular hut with furniture. The most ancient inhabitants of Vassallaggi were presumably the Sicans.
No finds have come to light from the middle and late Bronze Age, so these hills may have been abandoned at that time; this might be a result of emigration towards the coast from the middle Bronze Age and then as a result of the preference for more defensible sites in face of the arrival of the Sicels (which might have taken the form of an invasion). Thus the site was unoccupied for about 700 years, before a Sican settlement developed here in the 8th century BC.
This new habitation during the Iron Age continued until Greek occupation of the site in the 5th century, when the village seems to have been fortified and to have developed within the sphere of Akragas.
After the foundation of that city by Gela (most powerful of the Dorian colonies founded in the 7th century BC), a period of expansion of Greek origin people began which led to the colonisation of central Sicily, using the natural route along the Himera river valley (the modern Salso). The expansion into inland Sicily may be explained by the demographic pressure on the Greek communities of the motherland and the other Greek colonies. The need to augment agricultural production and open new markets for manufactured goods may also have been a causal factor.
The site of Vassallaggi, however, based on archaeological evidence, was only conquered and colonised by Greeks from Akragas in the 6th century BC, unlike nearby sites, like Sabucina, Capodarso and Gibil Gabib which were colonised by Gela, as shown by the proto-Corinthian style pottery found there, which is never found at Vassallaggi.
The most important discoveries in the rich necropolis, both in terms of quantity and quality of items recovered, derive from this period. They include ceramic sarcophagi, one of which is perfectly preserved, locally-made vases, pottery from other Greek areas, bronze knives, spears and strigils, as well as coins. A temple for the worship of a female deity was built at this time.
The absence of concrete evidence makes it difficult to attribute any known ancient place name to the location. It has been suggested that the site is Motyon, the first fortified centre in the Acragantine area. The city was inexplicably abandoned around 320 BC. There are no traces of objects after this date.
From the Roman period, traces of small nucleated settlements are found in the valley and the surrounding territory, including especially important routes to Akragas. Christian tombs, dating to the 5th century AD have been found, near the prehistoric caves.
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.