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(pwätyā`), city (1990 pop. 82,507), capital of Vienne dept., W central France, on the Clain River. The ancient capital of PoitouPoitou
, 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
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, it is now an industrial, agricultural, and communications center. Poitiers's industries include metallurgy, machine building, printing, and the manufacture of chemicals and electrical equipment. The city was the capital of the Pictons, a Gallic people, and under the Romans was called Limonum. Christianized early in Roman times, it was a stronghold of orthodoxy under its first bishop, St. Hilary of Poitiers (4th cent.), and, because of its important monasteries, was a great religious center of Gaul. A residence of VisigothVisigoths
(West Goths), division of the Goths, one of the most important groups of Germans. Having settled in the region W of the Black Sea in the 3d cent. A.D., the Goths soon split into two divisions, the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths.
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 kings, the city was captured (507) by the Franks under Clovis I. In 732, Charles Martel turned the Muslim tide by defeating the Saracens between Poitiers and Tours. Poitiers was often sacked by the Normans in the 9th cent. It was twice under English rule (1152–1204, 1360–72) and was the location of the brilliant court of Eleanor of Aquitaine. At Poitiers in 1356, Edward the Black Prince defeated and captured John II of France and his son, Philip the Bold of Burgundy. Charles VII had his court in Poitiers from 1423 to 1436 and founded a university there in 1432. In the Wars of Religion (1562–98) the city was unsuccessfully besieged (1568) by the HuguenotsHuguenots
, French Protestants, followers of John Calvin. The term is derived from the German Eidgenossen, meaning sworn companions or confederates. Origins

Prior to Calvin's publication in 1536 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion,
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; in 1577 the Peace of Bergerac (also known as the Edict of Poitiers) was signed there granting religious freedom (see Religion, Wars ofReligion, Wars of,
1562–98, series of civil wars in France, also known as the Huguenot Wars.

The immediate issue was the French Protestants' struggle for freedom of worship and the right of establishment (see Huguenots).
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). Architecturally, Poitiers is one of the most interesting cities in Europe. There are Roman amphitheaters and baths, the baptistery of St. John (4th–12th cent.), the Cathedral of St. Pierre (12th–14th cent.), the courthouse (12th–15th cent., formerly a royal residence), as well as numerous other churches and late medieval and Renaissance residences.



a city in western France, on the Clain River (Loire Basin), in the valley between the Massif Central and Gâtine Hills. It is the capital of the department of Vienne; population, 75,000 (1968). Industries include machine building, food processing, the production of chemicals, and the manufacture of leather. There is a university.

Poitiers, one of France’s oldest cities, was founded by the Gauls. From the ninth to the 18th centuries the city was the capital of the county and province of Poitou, which was the site of major battles. In 507 the Frankish king Clovis defeated the Visigoths near Poitiers, thereby securing the conquest of southern Gaul for the Franks. In October 732 the Frankish heavy cavalry, under the command of Charles Martel, surrounded and defeated invading Arab forces from Spain near Poitiers. The cavalry blocked the Arab advance into Europe. This was the first battle in which heavy cavalry played a decisive role. During the Hundred Years’ War, a battle took place near Poitiers (Nouallé-Maupertuis) on Sept. 19, 1356. The English army of the Black Prince defeated the French forces of King John II the Good, who was himself taken prisoner. The result of the battle was determined by the superiority of the English archers over the heavily armed French knights. The French defeat was one of the causes of the Paris Uprising of 1357–58 and of the Jacquerie.

Fragments of the city walls of the 12th and 16th centuries have survived. The most noteworthy architectural landmarks are the Baptistry of St. Jean (fourth century; with additions from the seventh and 11th centuries), which presently serves as a museum of Merovingian art, and the Romanesque cathedral of St. Pierre (1166–1271, with additions from the 13th to 15th centuries). Other significant churches are St. Radegonde (11th to 14th centuries), St. Hilarius (11th and 12th centuries), Notre Dame la Grande (11th to 16th centuries), and St. Porchaire (mainly 16th century; Gothic style). There are also remains of the ducal palace (12th to 15th centuries), which is now part of the Palace of Justice (19th century). Poitiers has a neo-Renaissance town hall (1869–76), which houses a museum of fine arts (mainly French school).


Claude, D. Topographie und Verfassung der Städte Bourges und Poitiers bis in das 11 Jahrhunderts. Lübeck-Hamburg, 1960.
Dez, G. Histoire de Poitiers. Poitiers, 1969.


a city in S central France: capital of the former province of Poitou until 1790; scene of the battle (1356) in which the English under the Black Prince defeated the French; university (1432). Pop.: 83 448 (1999)
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