Avignon is a city on the banks of the river Rhône in Southern France. It was part of the Kingdoms of Burgundy and then Arles before declaring itself an independant Republic in the 12th century. In 1226 it was annexed to France by Louis VIII as part of the Albigensian Crusade.
Avignon became the seat of the popes from 1309 to 1377, and subsequently housed several antipopes. This era is sometimes referred to as The Babylonian Captivity, as it was seen as a time when the French Crown had too much control over the papacy.