Châtellerault, town (1990 pop. 35,691), Vienne dept., W central France. It is an industrial center where armaments, cutlery, aeronautical equipment, rubber products, and clothing are produced. There are many buildings dating from the 15th to the 17th cent. in the old part of town, including the house (now a museum) where René Descartes spent his childhood.
Châtellerault is a commune in the Vienne département, in the Poitou-Charentes région of France. It is located north of Poitou in Touraine. Population (1999): 34,192 (Châtelleraudais). It is twinned to the town of Hamilton in Scotland, where there are a number of buildings, streets and parks that bear the Châtelherault name.


The Clain River joins the Vienne River near Châtellerault, in Cenon-sur-Vienne.


The town of Châtellerault was an important stronghold on the northern marsh of Poitou, established by the Count of Poitiers to secure his borders in the early 10th century. The count's local representative, the Vicomte de Châtellerault was established as a hereditary appointment by the time of Airaud who was probably a kinsman of the counts of Auvergne and dukes of Aquitaine; his heirs were vicomtes (viscounts) until the mid-11th century.

The daughter of Aymeric I, Ænor of Châtellerault (ca 1103 - ca 1130), whose mother had been the "mistress" in the new courtly love poetry of the troubadour lord William, sixth Count of Poitiers and ninth Duke of Aquitaine, who lodged in his tower the "dangereuse de Châtellerault," married his son, William X of Aquitaine, and was mother of Eleanor of Aquitaine.

The title, Vicomte de Châtellerault, passed in turn to each of three great French noble families: La Rochefoucauld, Lusignan and, from the 13th century until the French Revolution, to the family of Harcourt.

However, in return for services offered to the Crowns of Scotland and France, the title of Duc de Châtellerault(1548) was presented to James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, Chief of the Name, and regent of Scotland during Mary Queen of Scots and France's infancy. This title, though now without any benefices, is still in contention between the heir male and the heir general of Arran, respectively the Duke of Abercorn and the Duke of Hamilton. (see Chatelherault Country Park, Lanarkshire.)


From 1816 to 1968, Châtellerault was a center of sword and arms manufacture for the French government.The "Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Châtellerault" was one of France's 4 main infantry weapon manufactures operated by the French state. It was created in 1819 and closed as a weapon manufacturing facility in 1968. It saw the creation in 1886, and later the mass production, of the Lebel rifle which was the main French infantry weapon used during the First World War (1914-18). The facility has now been transformed into the central repository (Centre des Archives de l'Armement et du Personnel) of all the French military archives related to armament matters. It is open, for the older declassified material, to bona-fide researchers upon written request.



Châtellerault was the birthplace of:

Twinned town

Châtellerault is twinned with:

See also

Coat of arms

  1. D'argent, au lion de sable. (Malte-Brun, La France illustrée, volume V, 1884)
  2. D'argent, au lion de gueules, à la bordure de sable chargée de besants d'or (Malte-Brun, La France illustrée, volume V, 1884)

The first blazon would be rendered into English as Argent, a lion sable. This means on a white/silver background, one sees a black lion, with one forepaw raised (this posture is the standard depiction of an heraldic lion).

The English blazon of the second coat of arms is Argent, a lion gules, and a bordure sable bezanty. This would have a white/silver background, a red lion, and enclosing the lion a black border with a number of small gold circles on that border.

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