SAINTES, a town of western France, capital of an arrondisse ment in the department of Charente-Inferieure, 47 m. S.E. of La Rochelle by the railway from Nantes to Bordeaux. Pop. (1931) 16,152. Saintes (Mediolanum or Mediolanium), the capital of the Santones, was a flourishing town before Caesar's conquest of Gaul ; in the middle ages it was capital of the Saintonge. Chris tianity was introduced by St. Eutropius, its first bishop, in the middle of the 3rd century. Charlemagne rebuilt its cathedral. The Normans burned the town in 845 and 854. Richard Coeur de Lion was besieged and captured there by his father Henry II. In 1242 St. Louis defeated the English there, but the town was not permanently recovered from the English until the reign of Charles V. It has Roman remains, of which the best preserved is the arch of Germanicus, dating from the reign of Tiberius. This formerly stood on a Roman bridge destroyed in 1843, when it was removed and reconstructed on the right bank of the river. Ruins of baths and of an amphitheatre are also to be seen. The large amphitheatre dates probably from the close of the ist or the beginning of the 2nd century and was capable of holding 20,000 spectators. Saintes was a bishop's see till 1790; the cathe
dral of St. Peter, built in the early 12th century, was rebuilt in the i 5th century, and again after it had been almost destroyed by the Huguenots in 1568. It has a i 5th century tower. The church of St. Eutropius (6th century, rebuilt in the firth, having had its nave destroyed in the Wars of Religion) stands above a large well-lighted crypt adorned with richly sculptured capitals and containing the tomb of St. Eutropius (4th or 5th century). The fine stone spire dates from the 15th century. Notre-Dame (I i th and 12th centuries), has a noble clock-tower, and is now des ecrated. The old hotel de vine (I 6th and 18th centuries) contains a library. Small vessels ascend the river as far as Saintes, which carries on trade in grain, brandy and wine, has iron foundries, railway works, and manufactures earthenware and tiles.