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Saintonge, France

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The name of Saintonge comes from Latin Santonia, which was used to designate the area inhabited by the tribe of Santones. Their capital city, Mediolanum Santonum, now Saintes, was an important city in the Roman times. The amphitheater and the votive arch, built on the bridge over the river Charente in year 19 by Caius Julius Rufus as a tribute to Germanicus, Tiber and Drusus, are the most important remains of the Roman city. The city was still important when the Roman Empire collapsed, and was celebrated by the local poet Ausonius (c. 310 - c. 395), appointed count and consul by emperor Gratian.

In the Middle Ages, Saintonge had no specific administrative status. The area was divided in small domains for which the count of Poitou and the duke of Aquitaine competed. In the XIII-XIVth centuries, the north of Saintonge was part of the Capetian royal domain, whereas the south was part of the Plantagenet Anglo-Normand kingdom. In 1204, Saintonge was among John Lackland's domains which were confiscated by king of France Phillipe-Auguste, who could keep only the Upper Saintonge. In 1259, Louis IX (St. Louis) ceded to king of England Henry III the duchy of Guyenne, which included Saintonge.

In 1360, by the treaty of Brétigny, Saintonge was incorporated with Aquitaine, Aunis and Angoumois to the kingdom of England. Reconquered by constable Duguesclin in 1371, Saintonge was definitively incorporated to the kingdom of France by Charles V in 1375.


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