SAINTES, a town of France, the chef-lieu of an arrondissement in the department of Charente-Inferieure, on the left bank of the Charente, 88 feet above the sea and 45 miles south-east of La Rochelle by the railway from Nantes to Bordeaux. It occupies a delightful position and is of interest for its Roman remains. Of these the best preserved is the triumphal arch of Germanicus, although it has been removed and rebuilt stone by stone. The amphitheatre is larger than those of Nimes, Bordeaux, and Pompeii, and in area (-89 of an acre) is surpassed only by the Colosseum. The external ellipse was 436 feet long and 354 broad. Rubble embedded in cement is the material of the building, which dates probably from the close of the 1st or the beginning of the 2d century. Measures have been taken to keep the ruins, now made picturesque by trees, from further injury or decay. The capitol was destroyed after the capture of the town from the English by Charles of Alencon, brother of Philip of Valois, in 1330. An ancient hypogmum is still preserved, as well as numerous traces of the channels by which water was conveyed to private houses. The antiquarian museum contains 7000 medals and numerous sculptured pieces. Saintes was a bishop's see till 1790; the cathedral of St Peter, rebuilt at the close of the 12th century, was almost destroyed by the Huguenots in 1568. As rebuilt between 1582 and 1585 the interior of the church has an unattractive appearance. The tower is 236 feet high. The church of St Eutropius (which was founded in the close of the 6th century, rebuilt in the 11th, and had its nave destroyed in the Wars of Religion) stands above a very interesting well-lighted crypt, the largest in France after that of Chartres, adorned with richly sculptured capitals and containing the tomb of St Eutropius (4th or 5th century). Notre Dame, a splendid example of the architecture of the 11th and 12th centuries, with a noble round clock-tower, is unfortunately occupied by the military authorities, who have divided and mutilated the interior. The town, which was at one time at the head of the department, is still the seat of the courts of assize and has a court-house. Other public buildings are a town-house (Renaissance), a hospital, and a library. Small vessels ascend the river as far as Saintes, which has an advantageous situation between Angoulemc and Cognac higher up and Taillebourg and Rochefort farther down, and is the seat of iron and copper foundries, factories for agricultural instruments, cooperages, and skin-dressing establishments. The population in 1881 was 13,341 (15,763 in the commune).
Saintes (Mediolanum or Mediolanium), the capital of the San tones, was a flourishing town before Ca sar's conquest of Gaul. Christianity was introduced by St Eutropius, its first bishop, in thi middle of the 3d century. Charlemagne rebuilt its cathedral. The Normans burned the town in 845 and 854. Richard Cceur de Lion fortified himself within its walls against his father Henry II., who captured it after a destructive siege. It was not till the reign of Charles V. that Saintes was permanently recovered from the English. The Protestants did great damage during the Wars of Religion.