During the Pre-Roman and Roman periods (50 BC to 550 AD), the general area of Limousin was inhabited by a Gallic tribe known as the Lemovices. The name Limousin is derived from that Gallic name.
Under the Romans, the area became a part of the province of Aquitania. During the 6th to 8th centuries the Merovigian Franks were the rulers. They gave it the name Pagus Lemovicinus. From the 8th to 10th century it was ruled by the Carolingian Franks and, in 918, it once again became subordinate to Aquitaine. During the Middle Ages it was known for its troubadour poetry.
The 10th century saw Limousin divided into a number of small governmental (feudal) units. The northern part of Limousin became the country of Marche. The counts of Angouleme, Auvergne and Poitou annexed other parts. By the middle of the following century, the Duke of Aquitaine, through the viscounts of Comborn, Limoges, Turenne and Ventadour, ruled the remaining territory.
In 1466, Jean Bourbon II, the 6th duke of Bourbon, was made governor of Limousin (together with Berry, Languedoc, Orléanais and Périgord) by Louis XI. This honor was bestowed as a result of Jean Bourbon’s contribution to the earlier rout of the English.
The middle of the 12th century saw increased competition for Limousin between the French and English. During the Hundred Years' War (1337 to 1453), the area was the scene of heavy fighting. Ultimately, Henry IV annexed the area to France. It then became the French province of Plateaux du Limousin, in 1790, with its center at Limoges. The present region contains much of the territory formerly found in the old province.