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Coat of arms
Country France
 - Total 19,709 km2 (7,609.7 sq mi)
Population (2006 estimate)
 - Total 1,375,356
Time zone CET
Count 638—677, Guérin de Trèves
1403—1461, Charles VII of France

Poitou was a province of west-central France whose capital city was Poitiers.

The region of Poitou was called Thifalia (or Theiphalia) in the sixth century.

There is a marshland called the Poitevin Marsh (French Marais Poitevin) on the Gulf of Poitou, on the west coast of France, just north of La Rochelle and west of Niort.

Many of the Acadians who settled in what is now Nova Scotia beginning in 1604 and later to New Brunswick, came from the region of Poitou. After the Acadians were deported by the British beginning in 1755, a number of Acadians eventually took refuge in Poitou and in Québec. A large portion of these refugees also migrated to Louisiana in 1785 and following years became known as Cajuns (see Cajuns).

Perhaps paradoxically, during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries Poitou had been a hotbed of Huguenot (French Calvinist) activity among the nobility and bourgeoisie and was severely impacted by the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598).

Post revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, a strong counter-reformation effort was made by the French Roman Catholic Church, this in part was subsequently in 1793 responsible for the three year long open revolt against the French Revolutionary Government in the Bas-Poitou (Département of Vendée). Indeed during Napoleon’s Hundred Days in 1815, the Vendée stayed loyal to the Restoration Monarchy of King Louis XVIII and Napoleon was forced to send 10,000 troops under General Lamarque to pacify the region.

As noted by Lampert, "The persistent Huguenots of 17th Century Poitou and the fiercely Catholic rebellious Royalists of what came be the Vendée of the late 18th Century had ideologies very different, indeed diametrically opposed to each other. The common thread connecting both phenomena is a continuing assertion of a local identity and opposition to the central government in Paris, whatever its composition and identity. (...) In the region where Louis XIII and Louis XIV had encountered stiff resistance, the House of Bourbon gained loyal and militant supporters exactly when it had been overthrown and when a Bourbon loyalty came to imply a local loyalty in opposition to the new central government, that of Robespierre.[1]


Poitou Donkeys

The Baudet de Poitou is a distinctive and rare breed of donkey associated with the region.

In fiction

  • Large parts of the "Angelique" series of historical novels take place in 17th Century Poitou.

See also


  1. ^ Andre Lampert, "Centralism and Localism in European History" (cited as an example of "A Persistant [sic?] Localism" in the Introduction)

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

POITOU, one of the old provinces of France, which also formed one of the great military governments of the kingdom, was bounded on the N. by Brittany, Anjou and Touraine; on the S. by Angoumois and Aunis; on the E. by Touraine, Berri and Marche; and on the W. by the ocean. It was divided into Lower Poitou, which corresponded to the modern department of La Vendee, and Upper Poitou, now split into the departments of Deux-Sevres and Vienne. The principal towns in Upper Poitou were Poitiers the capital, Mirebeau, Chatellerault, Richelieu, Loudun, Thouars, Mauleon, Parthenay, Niort, &c.; and in Lower Poitou Fontenay-le-Comte, Maillezais, Lugon and Roche-sur-Yon. Ile d'Yeu or Tle-Dieu and Noirmoutier belonged to the province. Ecclesiastically, Poitou was a diocese which was broken up in 1317 to form two new dioceses of Lugon and Maillezais; the seat of the latter was transferred in the 17th century to La Rochelle. For the administration of justice, Poitou was attached to the parlement of Paris. After 778 it formed part of the domain of the counts of Poitiers (q.v.). Poitou (Poictou, Pictavia) takes its name from the Pictones or Pictavi, a Gallic nation mentioned by Caesar, Strabo and Ptolemy, and described by Strabo as separated from the Namnetes on the north by the Loire. It formed part of the territory known as Aquitaine.

For the history see the Memoires of the Societe des Antiquaires de l'Ouest (1835 sqq.) and the documents published by the Archives historiques du Poitou (1872 sqq.); also the Dictionnaire topographique de la Vienne, by L. Redet (1881).

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