Poitou

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Poitou

(pwäto͞o`), region and former province, W France, stretching from the Atlantic coast eastward beyond the Vienne River. The former province encompassed three modern departments—Vendée in the west, Deux-Sèvres in the center, and Vienne in the east—as well as small areas of several other departments. PoitiersPoitiers
, city (1990 pop. 82,507), capital of Vienne dept., W central France, on the Clain River. The ancient capital of Poitou, it is now an industrial, agricultural, and communications center.
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, the historic capital, is the chief industrial center. Other industrial towns are Châtellerault, Niort, La Roche-sur-Yon, and Les Sables-d'Olonne.

The Vendée region, or Lower Poitou, extends beyond the departmental boundary of Vendée; it is mostly a pastoral hedgerow country (the bocages), with swamps in the west and in the south. A narrow strip, the Vendean plain, is an intensive wheat-growing region. Upper Poitou is a rich agricultural area; it also has a large dairy industry.

A part of the Roman province of Aquitaine, Poitou (known as "the city of the Pictons") fell to the Visigoths (5th cent.) and to the Franks (507). The counts of Poitiers, who originated in the 9th cent., assumed the title duke of AquitaineAquitaine
, Lat. Aquitania, former duchy and kingdom in SW France. Julius Caesar conquered the Aquitani, an Iberian people of SW Gaul, in 56 B.C. The province that he created occupied the territory between the Garonne River and the Pyrenees; under Roman rule it was
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. The area was frequently contested by England and France, passing back and forth in possession until the end of the Hundred Years War, when Charles VII definitively incorporated it in the French crown lands.

Poitou

 

a historic region in western France, bordering on the Atlantic Ocean. Poitou includes the departments of La Vendée, Vienne, and Deux-Sèvres. Excluding the department of La Vendée and together with the former provinces of Aunis, Saintonge, and Angoumois (now the departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime), it constitutes the economic region of Poitou-Charente in the national economic plan. Area, 20,100 sq km. Population, 1.1 million (1973). The principal city is Poitiers.

Most of the region is a hilly plain with typical bocage. The mainstay of the economy is agriculture, particularly animal husbandry, including cattle, pig, and poultry raising. The main crops are wheat, barley, and fodder crops; vegetables are also grown. Most of the industry involves the processing of agricultural raw materials. There is a machine-building industry in Châtellerault and Poitiers. Uranium ore is mined in the Mortagne-sur-Sèvre area, and an enrichment plant is in operation in Ecarpière.

The name “Poitou” is derived from the Pictones, a tribe that inhabited the area in ancient times. Poitou was then part of Aquitania. Beginning in the ninth century, it was a county, and by the end of the century, the counts of Poitou became dukes of Aquitaine. As part of Aquitaine, Poitou passed to the king of England in 1154. Parts of the territory were returned to France during the reigns of Phillip II (Phillip Augustus) (1180–1223) and Louis VIII (1223–26), as confirmed by the Paris Treaty of 1259. During the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453), Poitou was returned to England by the Treaty of Brétigny (1360) and was retaken by France in the years 1369–73. During the French Revolution, Poitou was one of the centers of the wars of the Vendée. With the introduction of new administrative divisions in 1790, the province of Poitou was abolished.

Poitou

a former province of W central France, on the Atlantic. Chief town: Poitiers
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In all, the term is encountered in a variety of contexts, and its appearance seems to indicate a consciousness of a poitevin song being a meaningful category of song.