Somport or Col du Somport, known also as the Aspe Pass or Canfranc Pass, is a mountain pass in the central Pyrenees on the border of France and Spain. Its name is derived from the Latin Summus portus. It was one of the most popular routes for soldiers, merchants, and pilgrims to the tomb of St. James following the route from Arles to cross the Pyrenees. They travelled from Oloron-Sainte-Marie, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France, via Somport to Aragon, Spain.
There is recorded evidence of both the Vandals and the Visigothic invaders having used the relatively facile entrance to Spain from France in the fifth century. The Roman road constructed here, known as the Via Tolosana, was also used by Muslim invaders in the eighth century in their attempt to conquer France. The pass was fortified in the 16th century by the Habsburgs in fear of French invasion, which however would not occur until the Peninsular War and the arrival of Napoleon's general Louis Gabriel Suchet in 1808. He was later followed by Colonel Leonard Morin who records in his Memoirs of the 5th Regiment both the danger of the pass and the horrible existence of the population of Canfranc. The French would leave by the same road after their defeat by General Francisco Espoz y Mina in 1814.
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