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Geographical location of the Saintonge
The Saintonge coat of arms shows the miter of Saint Eutropius, the first bishop of Saintes , whose bones rest in the former priory church of Saint-Eutrope in Saintes .

Saintonge ( Saintongeais : Saintonghe ) is the name of a former province in western France . It is part of the Charente cultural landscape . A dialect of the northern French languages ​​( Langues d'oïl ), the 'Saintongeais', is still spoken, mainly in rural areas .


The Saintonge borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west and largely corresponds to the arrondissements of Saintes , Saint-Jean-d'Angély and Rochefort in the Charente-Maritime department .

In the Middle Ages, the name included this entire department and the western part of the Charente department . In the course of history, the name should be limited to the three arrondissements mentioned due to territorial assignments and administrative changes.

In addition to Saintes and Saint-Jean-d'Angély , La Rochelle , Rochefort and Cognac were also important places in the area of ​​the old Saintonge . The islands of Oléron and , which belong to the Arrondissement of Rochefort, are also part of the Saintonge.


Ancient and early Middle Ages

The region was originally settled by the Celtic tribe of the Santons (Latin Santones ), the center of which was the later Roman provincial capital of Saintes ( Mediolanum Santonum ).

Triumphal arch of Germanicus (19 BC) in Saintes

After the Roman conquest of Gaul by Gaius Julius Caesar in the years 58 to 51 BC. In AD 17, the region was assigned to the province of Gallia Aquitania . After the administrative reforms of the Emperor Diocletian (284-305) it belonged to the province of Aquitania secunda , which was subordinate to the Diocese of Viennensis .

Since the beginning of the 5th century, the area of ​​today's Saintonge belonged to the Tolosan Empire of the Visigoths , after their defeat in 507 in the Battle of Vouillé against the Frankish king Clovis I , it became part of the Frankish Empire . The area was then ruled by the dukes of Aquitaine , who tried to evade the control of the Frankish kings. From this time, Waddo ( Waddon , around 565) and Gundegisel "Dodo" (later Bishop of Bordeaux , around 585), two counts in Saintes, have come down to us.

After Charlemagne had subjugated Aquitaine around 770, the Saintonge was part of the Aquitaine sub-kingdom of the Carolingians . When Emperor Louis the Pious replaced his grandson Pippin II there with his youngest son Charles the Bald in 839 , he also appointed counts devoted to him in Aquitaine - also in Saintes, which established the county of Saintonge . This was surrounded by the county Poitou in the north, the Duke of Angoulême in the east and in the south of Perigord and the estuary of the Gironde , at the south bank of the Gascogne marginalized.

Emperor Ludwig entrusted the Saintonge to Count Seguin II of Bordeaux, who died in 846 in the fight against the Loire-Normans , who raided Aquitaine and sacked Saintes. He was followed by Count Landry , who, in league with Count Turpion of Angoulême , lost a battle against the Normans near Saintes on October 4, 863 , in which Turpion fell. Then Landry got into a year-long war against Turpion's brother, Count Emenon of Angoulême (previously Count of Poitou), which was decided on June 14, 866 in a battle near Rancogne , in which Landry fell. Although Emenon also succumbed to his injuries a few days later, his successor in Angoulême, Count Vulgrin I , was also able to take the Saintonge for himself.

High Middle Ages

After Vulgrin's death (886), his descendants quarreled in a family conflict which the Counts of Poitou, who were also dukes of Aquitaine, took advantage of and seized most of the Saintonge at the beginning of the 10th century; in the territory of the Counts of Angoulême ( Angoumois ), however, the land around Cognac , Bouteville and Jarnac remained . But Saintes was now under the direct control of the dukes until William VI. The fat man was beaten and taken prisoner at Moncontour on September 9, 1033 by the later Count of Anjou, Gottfried Martel . Gottfried forced the duke, at the price of freedom, to enfeoff him as his vassal with the Saintonge. After Gottfried died in 1060, his inheritance was shared among his nephews; while Gottfried the Bearded got the Anjou, the Saintonge went to his younger brother Fulko the Grouchy . With a victory over Duke Wilhelm VIII at the Boutonne in 1061, both brothers were able to successfully repel his attempt to drive the Anjou brothers out of Aquitaine. Nevertheless, the Duke was able to regain the Saintonge only a year later after Fulko turned against his brother and seized the Anjou. Now the Saintonge was again under the rule of the Aquitanian dukes for several generations, who inherited from the Plantagenet dynasty in the middle of the 12th century through the marriage of Duchess Eleonore to Count Heinrich von Anjou , who shortly after also ascended the English royal throne has been. As a result, this region also became the scene of the generational conflict between this dynasty and the French kingdom.

In the following years several vassals of Aquitaine rose against the reign of Eleanor's son Richard the Lionheart . The Lionheart defeated the Brabanzone army of the Count of Angoulême near Bouteville in May 1176 and besieged the rebel Geoffroy II de Rancon in the castle of Pons in the winter of 1177 , whose Taillebourg fortress he destroyed a first time in 1178 and a second time in 1188. In 1190 Richard entrusted the Duchy of Aquitaine to his nephew Otto von Braunschweig , but took it over again in 1198 after Otto was elected king in Germany. After Richard died a year later, Eleanor took over the duchy again, which she again handed over to her son Johann Ohneland a year later . After Eleonore's death in 1204, the Aquitaine Counts fell away from Johann and allied themselves with the French king, who had previously been able to subjugate the Plantagenets north of the Loire . Of Aquitaine only the Saintonge and the Poitou remained in Johann's possession, but his son Heinrich finally had to lose these areas to King Louis VIII , who had taken La Rochelle on August 13, 1224 , in the Franco-English War from 1224 to 1225 . accept. For the time being, the country was ruled directly by the crown until King Louis IX in 1241 . enfeoffed his younger brother Prince Alfons with the Poitou and the Saintonge, with which he complied with her father's will.

A year later, King Henry III landed. of England with an army on the coast of Saintonge with the goal of retaking the lost territories, but Louis IX. and Prince Alfons opposed the English army at Taillebourg on July 21, 1242 and defeated it with devastation. A few days later, Ludwig again triumphed at Saintes over Hugo X. von Lusignan , Henry's ally. After this lost Saintonge War , Henry III. renounce his claims in France in the Treaty of Pons 1242, only in the course of a compensation policy with Louis IX. the Saintonge was returned to him in the Treaty of Paris in 1259; In return, he and his descendants had to pay homage to the French kings for the area in question.

Late Middle Ages

The naval battle of La Rochelle, 1372

Now belonging to the Plantagenets again, the Saintonge became a scene of the Hundred Years War between England and France from the middle of the 14th century . The "black prince" Edward of Woodstock was able to win the whole of Aquitaine for England again through his victory in the battle of Maupertuis in 1356 ( Treaty of Brétigny , 1360), but a few years later the French connétable Bertrand du Guesclin succeeded in capturing Gascogne and Aquitaine, and with it to retake the Saintonge. The decisive factor was, among other things, the victory of a French-Castilian fleet over the English in September 1372 off La Rochelle. In the Treaty of Bruges in 1375, the English King Edward III. the Saintonge and other areas from France, where it finally remained until today (without interruption).

The title of Count of Saintonge - combined with the dignity of a peer of France - was bestowed by King Charles VII on the Scottish King James I for the last time in 1428 to reinforce the Franco-Scottish alliance ( Auld Alliance ) against England. King Louis XI. withdrew the title and instead awarded it in 1469 as an apanage to his brother, Prince Karl von Valois , after whose heirless death in 1472 the title was finally returned to the crown domain.

The Saintonge was administered from 1255 by a seneschal who had his seat in Saint-Jean-d'Angély; In 1453 another Seneschallat ( Sénéchaussée ) was set up with its seat in Saintes. Before that, however, the land around La Rochelle and Rochefort had already been amalgamated into a separate Seneschallate in 1373, the area of ​​which, the Aunis (from the Latin Alumitium) , had long had its own regional identity. Since then, the Saintonge landscape name has only been used to refer to the administrative areas of Saintes and Saint-Jean-d'Angély. Nevertheless, all three Seneschallates were to be reunited administratively from 1694 under a Gouvernement (Généralité) , which had its seat in La Rochelle.

Modern times

During the 16th century, the inhabitants of the Saintonge revolted several times against the policy of King Francis I to unify the salt tax ( Gabelle du sel ); only the Duc de Montmorency was able to stabilize the royal authority again until 1548. At the same time, the region became a center of the Protestant Huguenots and thus also the scene of the related religious struggles that shook France at this time. A decisive battle took place on March 13, 1569 near Jarnac , in which Louis de Condé , the Protestant military leader, was killed. His son and political successor Henri de Condé succumbed to his wounds from the Battle of Coutras in Saint-Jean-d'Angély in 1588 . After King Henry IV issued the Edict of Nantes in 1598 , the Huguenots were assigned over 100 security places ( places de sûreté ) in France, including all of the larger cities of Saintonge. La Rochelle in particular took on the position of capital of the Protestant state in the state in the following years. With the accession to the throne of King Ludwig XIII. and the policy of his First Minister Richelieu this condition was abolished. In 1621 the king besieged and dragged Saint-Jean-d'Angély, in September 1625 the Île de Ré surrendered , which the Marquis de Toiras defended against the Duke of Buckingham in 1627 . On October 30, 1628, La Rochelle, besieged for over a year, fell. The region suffered further devastation from the suppression of the peasant revolts, sparked by the high taxation of peasants during the Thirty Years' War , and the revolt of the noble Fronde against the reign of Cardinal Mazarin . From 1681 to 1685 Louis XIV tried to force the Huguenots to convert to the Catholic Church by means of barbaric dragonades . After King Louis XIV's repeal of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, a large part of the population emigrated to New France , founded by Samuel de Champlain , whose dialect (the Saintongeais ) strongly influenced the Quebec French (Québécois) there . Furthermore, many Santonen fought in the "Régiment de Saintonge" under the Comte de Rochambeau for the North American colonies in the war of independence against Great Britain.

At the General Estates of 1789, the Généralité of La Rochelle was represented by 16 members, four each for La Rochelle and Saint-Jean-d'Angély and eight for Saintes. Due to a law passed there on December 22nd, the Seneschallates were abolished and the areas concerned were incorporated into the Charente-Inférieure department, which was to be renamed Charente-Maritime on March 4th, 1941. In the course of the French Revolution , the Saintonge was hit by fighting during the Vendée uprising and landing attempts by British troops. At the time of the reign of terror and the dechristianization, the Saintonge was just as affected as the entire department. During the fifth coalition war on April 12, 1809 a British fleet defeated a French one off the Île d'Aix ; Napoleon Bonaparte had spent his last days on French soil on that island in July 1815 before surrendering to the British and being exiled to St. Helena .

20th century

During the Second World War , the Saintonge was occupied by the German Reich from June 1940 and bordered to the east on the unoccupied territory of France, which was ruled by the Vichy regime , which was collaborating with Nazi Germany . The Atlantic coast of the Saintonge, like the entire coast of France, was of particular strategic importance for the navy as a base for their submarines. As a result, the cities of the region were targeted by Allied air strikes and suffered great damage. The city of Royan was almost completely destroyed in such an attack on January 5, 1945. The German occupation ended on May 8, 1945 with the surrender of the Wehrmacht in La Rochelle to the associations of Free France and the Resistance .


The old cultural landscape of the Saintonge offers a wealth of sights from the different epochs of its history:


Amphitheater and Arch of Germanicus in Saintes , Roman tower stumps at Saint-Romain-de-Benet and Ébéon , tunnel aqueduct at Le Douhet

middle Ages

Biron, Saint-Eutrope Church and Calvary Cross

Apart from the buildings in Saintes, there are Romanesque churches / abbeys in the

Death lights ; Hosanna crosses ; Calvary crosses

Renaissance etc.

Castles of Crazannes , Dampierre-sur-Boutonne , Le Douhet , La Jarne , Matha , Marennes , Meux , Nieul-lès-Saintes , Panloy , Pons , Saint-Porchaire , Saint-Jean d'Angle

Culinary specialties

The Saintonge is primarily a wine-growing region - large parts of it belong to the Fins Bois , Bons Bois and Bois ordinaires of the Cognac wine-growing region . In many distilleries local eau de vie distilled from which (after years of storage in oak barrels of) cognac matures. Lighter alcoholic liqueurs such as Pineau des Charentes and Sève Feu de Joie are also specialties of the region. Since sales of cognac have stagnated or even decreased in recent years, efforts to produce quality wines have come to the fore again. Other culinary specialties of the region are a fine almond cake made from sponge mixture ( Gâteau Saintongeais ) and pralines ( Cagouilles Saintongeaises ).


Overall representations

  • Jean-Michel Deveau: Histoire de l'Aunis et de la Saintonge . Paris 1974.
  • Edmond René Labande: Histoire du Poitou, du Limousin et des Pays charentais - Vendée, Aunis, Saintonge, Angoumois . Toulouse 1976 (= Univers de la France et des pays francophones , vol. 34).
  • Histoire de l'Aunis et de la Saintonge , ed. by Jean Glénisson. Gesture éditions, La Crèche.

Individual epochs

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. José Gomez de Soto: La Protohistoire de l'Aunis et de la Saintonge . In: Louis Maurin (ed.): Histoire de l'Aunis et de la Saintonge. Vol. 1: Des origines à la fin du VIe siècle après J.-C. Geste éditions, La Crèche 2007. ISBN 978-2-8456-1363-8 . Pp. 78-103.
  2. ^ Gaston Dec: Les siècles de romanisation . In: Edmond René Labande (ed.): Histoire du Poitou, du Limousin et des Pays charentais - Vendée, Aunis, Saintonge, Angoumois . Toulouse 1976. pp. 51-90.
  3. ^ Jan Hendrik Prell: Count, vice count and nobility in Northern Aquitaine (10th and 11th centuries). Prosopographical and constitutional historical studies on Poitou, Aunis and Saintonge . Diss., University of Mannheim 1991.
  4. Edmond René Labande: Dans L'empire Plantegenet . In the S. (Ed.): Histoire du Poitou, du Limousin et des Pays charentais - Vendée, Aunis, Saintonge, Angoumois . Toulouse 1976. pp. 133-150.
  5. ^ Henry M. Baird: The Huguenots and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes . Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., London 1895, Vol. 1, p. 5.
  6. Francine Ducluzeau, Denise Bélanger (ed.): Histoire of protestants charentais (Aunis, Saintonge, Angoumois) . Paris 2001.
  7. Jean Glénisson: L'armée d'Aunis devant La Rochelle (14 May - 10 novembre 1622) . Société des Archives Historiques de la Saintonge et de l'Aunis, Saintes 2005 (= Archives historiques de la Saintonge et de l'Aunis, vol. 57).
  8. Eugène Bonnemère: . Les dragonnades sous Louis XIV Histoire des Camisards . Décembre-Alonnier, Paris 1869.
  9. Paul Courpron: Essai sur l'Histoire du protestantisme en Aunis et Saintonge depuis la révocation de l'EDIT de Nantes jusqu'à l'édit de tolérance (1685-1787) . Diss., University of Paris 1902.
  10. History of the mistreatment which the French priests, condemned for exile to Guyana, endured for ten months in the roadstead on the island of Aix on the coast of Saintonge in France / Written by one of the same . Constance 1795.