Poitiers, Or Poictiers (Anc. Lemonum or Li-monum, afterward Pictavi), a town of France, formerly capital of the province of Poitou, and now of the department of Vienne, 180 m. S. W. of Paris; pop. in 1872, 30,036. It is situated on a rounded eminence on the left bank of the river Clain, at the mouth of the Boivre. The town is enclosed by old turreted walls, pierced by five gates, four of which open on bridges over the Clain. It is the seat of a bishop, and has a cathedral, five parish churches, a castle, an academy, a royal college, several schools and hospitals, a public library, theatre, and botanic garden. Coarse woollen cloths, blankets, hosiery, lace, etc, are manufactured. - The ancient Lemonum was the chief city of the Celtic Pictones. The Visigoths under Alaric were decisively beaten near the town by Clovis in 507; and in October, 732, Abder-rahman and his Saracens were defeated a few miles N. E. of it by Charles Martel. By the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry Plantagenet, afterward king of England, Poitiers came into the hands of that prince, and was held by the English until Philip Augustus recovered it in 1204. On Sept. 19,1356, a few miles from the city, was fought the famous battle of Poitiers, in which John the Good of France, with an army variously stated to be 50,000 and 80,000 strong, was defeated by Edward the Black Prince at the head of 8,000 English and Gascon soldiers.
The English were so posted that they could only be approached through a narrow lane, bordered on both sides by very heavy hedges. In these were the English archers, and at the head of the lane were the men-at-arms. The cavalry or knights were held in reserve. The French made an impetuous attack, but the first volley from the archers put them into a confusion from which they did not recover. Being charged by the men-at-arms, they were completely routed, and King John was captured. Poitiers again reverted to France in 1372 by the voluntary surrender of the townsmen to Charles V., the rest of Poitou having previously been conquered. While the English were in possession of the larger part of France, Charles VII. held his court and parliament at Poitiers for 14 years. Numerous councils were held in Poitiers in the middle ages. During the war of the league it was taken from the Huguenots by the Catholics, and Admiral Co-ligni made an unsuccessful attempt to retake it in 1569.