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Famous People

Historical Personalities

Eleanor of Aquitaine and Niort

eleanor of aquitaineNiort enters the history of France with the Plantagenets. In 1152, Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Duchess of Aquitaine and Countess of Poitou, married her second husband, Henry Plantagenet, the Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou. He became king of England two years later and in that way, the whole of the West of France, except Brittany, was united to that family dynasty. In 1170, at the château of Niort, Eleanor presented her favourite son, Richard, to the barons of Poitou and promoted Richard to the rank of Duke of Aquitaine. He was 13.

Again in Niort in 1199, the queen gave franchises, rights and customs to Poitiers and La Rochelle.

In 1203, at the age of 81, Eleanor of Aquitaine confirmed the charter of the free commune of Niort in the court of the chateau or at the Abbey of Fontevraud, where she died barely a year later.

Out of interest, her grandfather, William the Troubadour would, it is said, have had a whore house built in Niort in 1086, in the form of a monastery, divided into cells and kept by an abbess.

Richard The Lion Heart (1157, Oxford-1199, Fontevraud), the knight king.

richard the lionheartThe son of Henry II Plantagenet, the King of England and of Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine and Countess of Poitou. If the black legend about his mother is to be believed, he would be the result of a relationship with the Devil. He grew up in Poitiers, wrote poems and composed music. In 1170, at the chateau of Niort, Eleanor presented her favourite son, the Duke of Aquitaine who was only 13, to the Poitevin barons who swore allegiance to him. He became King of England in 1189, on the death of his father. The following year, Richard was in Parthenay before leading the great vassals, with the exception of Hugues 1st Larchevesque, to a new Crusades in the Holy Land. On his return from the East, he is said to have brought back with him a defensive technique of shooting the arrow vertically with the bow on the machicolation. He used this technique for the first time in Western Europe from the keep in Niort. In 1199, as he wanted to get hold of the treasure of Châlus (Limousin) to improve Château-Gaillard and increase the numbers of his mercenaries, the knight King led the assault of the fortress of Count Aymar of Limoges without putting on his hood and doing up his chain mail. He suffered an arrow wound to his shoulder and died in Fontevraud where his remains can still be seen today.

Madame of Maintenon (Niort, 1635-Saint-Cyr, 1719), almost Queen of France !

Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de Maintenon

Françoise d’Aubigné was born in lodgings in the old prison de Niort (5 rue du Pont) where her father was imprisoned. She lived her childhood in poverty at Mursay, near Niort. After the death of her husband, the poet Paul Scarron, she became governess to the illegitimate children of Louis XIV. The King gave her the title of Marquise of Maintenon and married her during the night in 1683. She founded institution of Saint-Cyr to teach the young daughters of the poor provincial nobility.

 

Other People

Augustin Bernard alias Bernard d’Agesci (Niort, 1756-Niort, 1829), 1st curator of the museum of Niort

This drawer, painter and sculptor, winner of the great prize of Rome stayed for 7 years in Italy, where he was lived at the Villa Médicis in Rome and the School of Painting in Bologna. In 1792, in Niort, his birthplace, he founded the revolutionary county museum.

The primary school teacher Ernest Pérochon (Courlay, 1885-Niort, 1942), Goncourt prize 1920

In 1920, this rural primary school teacher won the Goncourt prize for his novel Nêne. So he decided to give up teaching and settled permanently in Niort (25 avenue de Limoges) where he wrote 25 novels including 7 reading books for children, which have been translated into ten languages including Serb and Japanese !

Edmond Proust (Chenay, 1894-Niort, 1956), the father of the Niort mutual insurance companies

In 1934, this country primary school teacher founded with Jean Lauroua, the MAIF, the first mutual company of Niort. Under the pseudonym of Colonel Chaumette, he had liberated Niort on the 5th September 1944. In 1947, he created the CAMIF which was the third most important mail order business in France.

Le cinéaste Henri-Georges Clouzot

Henri-Georges Clouzot (Niort, 1907-Paris, 1977),

Film maker, master of suspense and mysterious atmospheres.

This film maker who is well known and who has received awards is the author of masterpieces like “Quai des Orfèvres” or “Le salaire de la peur”. In 1954, he made « Les Diaboliques »,a police film in which starred Simone Signoret and Véra Clouzot, his Brazilan wife. One of the scenes takes place in Niort.

 

The painter and sculptor Richard Texier (Niort, 1955-), brewer of what the world is made of.

In 1989, for the bicentenary of the universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the Citizen, this artist, knighted for Arts in 2004, drew the sketches for seven monumental tapestries. It is the largest order that the state has made at the Aubusson Tapestry Manufacturers and was paid for by the MAIF, the MAAF and the MACIF. Four of the tapestries can be seen in Niort town hall.

Slimane Ould Mohand (Alger, 1966-) : the most Niortais of the Berber Painters

With a diploma from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Algers (School of Fine Arts) in 1987, Slimane lived a bohemian life in Montmartre before settling down in Niort in 1990. He shows his work in the famous Paris art gallery of Berthet-Aittouarès and in the one in Lyon which is called “Soleil sur la place”. All his masterpieces are Oriental magic from the 1001 and one nights. The Berber Chagall or the Kabyle Klee can produce 600 drawings a week. He cuts out, sticks, folds, works with different medium (sand, soil, straw, gravel, coffee dregs, bird droppings) to create a universe full of silhouettes, faces, everyday objects and domestic animals.

 

To find out more :
www.vivre-a-niort.com

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