Poitiers (pwätyā´), city (1990 pop. 82,507), capital of Vienne dept., W central France, on the Clain River. The ancient capital of Poitou, 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 Visigoth 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 Huguenots; in 1577 the Peace of Bergerac (also known as the Edict of Poitiers) was signed there granting religious freedom (see Religion, Wars of). 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.
POITIERS , capital of Vienne department, W. France. The history of the Jewish community of Poitiers is almost entirely interwoven with that of *Poitou. During the 13th century, Nathan b. Joseph *Official was involved in a religious disputation with the bishop of Poitiers. An expulsion order against the Jews of Poitiers had already been issued in 1291 but it was canceled in exchange for a large sum of money. The community ceased to exist in 1306. The Rue de la Juiverie, the modern Rue Arsène-Orillard, was closed off by ogival gates which still existed during the 19th century. The cemetery was situated in the present suburb of Montbernage. According to local tradition, treasures buried by the Jews lay hidden there. On the eve of World War ii, there were a few hundred Jews in Poitiers. Their numbers increased with the arrival of Jewish refugees from Alsace and Lorraine and later with the internees detained in several camps within the vicinity of the town. In 1970 the community consisted of about 100 persons.
Gross, Gal Jud, 452f.; Intermédiaire des chercheurs et curieux, 39 (1899), 20; 40 (1899), 1104; J. Guerinière, Essai sur l'ancien Poitou, i (1836), 491; R. Brothier de Rolliere, Poitiers – Histoire des rues (1930), 293; Z. Szajkowski, Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazetteer (1966), 284.