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Saintes (Municipality, Charente-Maritime, France)

Last modified: 2024-01-06 by olivier touzeau
Keywords: saintes | saintonge |
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Presentation of Saintes

Saintes (25,412 inhabitants in 2016; 4,555 ha) is a commune in the Charente-Maritime department of which it is a sub-prefecture. Saintes is the second-largest city in Charente-Maritime.

In Roman times, Saintes was known as Mediolanum Santonum. Primarily built on the left bank of the Charente, Saintes became the first Roman capital of Aquitaine.
Later it was designated as the capital of the province of Saintonge under the Ancien Régime.
In the 11th century, the town, now part of the Duchy of Aquitaine, saw the consolidation of its ramparts and the erection of a fortified castle on the Capitol Hill. At the same time, the Cluniacs built a basilica dedicated to Saint-Eutrope, which quickly became a stopover on the way for pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela. A Benedictine abbey for women was founded on the right bank of the Charente: the Abbaye aux Dames.
Appearing as a border march between the Capetian and Plantagenet domains during the late Middle Ages, Saintonge was shaken by incessant struggles between 1152 and 1451, its lords often hesitating between Anglo-Aquitaine attachment and the link with Paris. Everything shows that the Anglo-Aquitaine attachment was predominant there until around the middle of the 14th century. The city of Saintes was definitively attached to France in 1404.
After the French Revolution, it briefly became the prefecture of the department (then called Charente-Inférieure) during the territorial reorganization of 1790, until La Rochelle was designated and superseded it in 1810.

Olivier Touzeau, 2 March 2022

Flag observed on the city hall of Saintes

The flag of the traditional province of Saintonge can be observed on the city hall (photo, 2020; photo).

Olivier Touzeau, 2 March 2022