Dauphiné dōfēnā´ [key], region and former province, SE France, bordering on Italy. It is now divided into three departments, Haute-Alpes, Isère, and Drôme. In the east the Alps culminate in the Barre des Écrins; their magnificent scenery attracts many tourists. The lower districts are fertile and warm, with many notable vineyards. Grenoble (the historic capital), Vienne, and Valence are the chief towns. In the kingdom of Provence (879) and after 933 in that of Arles, Dauphiné was nominally part of the Holy Roman Empire. The rulers assumed the title dauphin. In 1349 the area was sold to France by Dauphin Humbert II, who was childless, and for the next century it was governed as a separate province by the eldest son of the king of France. In 1457 it was annexed by the crown.
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