Poitou-Charentes History

Following the era of Roman domination, early Christians gathered around Poitiers. St. Hilaire was then elected as bishop. Germanic tribes, followed by the Visigoths invaded the region before being later defeated by Clovis in 507.

Poitiers is remembered for a conflict that remains crucial in the history of the Western Christianity: in 732, troops led by Charles Martel defeated the Arab invaders. The latter had conquered Spain and southwestern France, and this defeat prevented France from many Arab and North-African further invasions.

In 1137, Eleanor of Aquitaine married King Louis VII. She brought to the French crown what is now Poitou-Charentes. Her subsequent divorce and marriage with an English king gave the region to the English. In 1173, Eleanor, separated from her second husband, settled in Poitiers, where she held a brilliant court and became a patron of the arts. She later retreated to a castle on Ile d’Oléron.

A period of great economic development followed in the early 18th century. At the end of World War II, free French soldiers and members of the Resistance fought German forces still entrenched in the Atlantic “pockets”, including Royan, one of the region's harbours.

Today the culture of Poitou-Charentes is made up of a strong will to claim their identity. It is one of the most little-known regions of France, often considered as "a countryside with few or no economic activity" by other French people. This is explained by the fact that the region has no leading city like Nantes, Bordeaux, Lyon, or Toulouse in other regions. But with its peaceful and green surroundings this region has actually lots to offer.

Return to Poitou-Charentes Home Page