VIENNE, DEPARTMENT, a department of west-central France, formed in 1790 out of Poitou (four-fifths of its present area), Touraine (one-seventh) and Berry, and bounded by Deux-Sevres on the W., Charente on the S., Haute-Vienne on the S.E., Indre on the E., Indre-et-Loire on the N.E. and N., and Maine-et-Loire on the N.W. Pop. (1006) 333,621. Area, 2719 sq. m. The river Vienne, which gives its name to the department, with its tributaries the Creuse (subtributary the Gartempe) on the east and the Clain on the west, flows from south to north. The general slope of the department is in the same direction, the highest point (764 ft.) being in the south-east and the lowest (115 ft.) at the junction of the Vienne and the Creuse. In the south the Charente, on the north-west the Dive, and in the west some streams belonging to the basin of the SevreNiortaise drain small portions of the department. The average temperature is 54 F. The prevailing winds are from the south-west and west. The annual rainfall is 24 in.
Wheat, oats and barley are the principal cereals cultivated, Other important crops being lucerne, sainfoin, clover, mangelwurzels and potatoes. Colza and hemp are grown to a limited extent. The district of Poitiers grows good red wine, and the white wine of Trois-Moutiers near Loudun is well known. The breeding of live stock in all its branches is fairly active. Poitou is famous for its mules, and the geese and turkeys of the department are highly esteemed. Oak, ash, alder and birch are the principal forest trees, and among the fruit trees are the chestnut, walnut and almond. Freestone is quarried. The most important industrial establishments are the national arms manufactory at Chatellerault and the cutlery works near that town. In other parts of the department are wool-spinning mills, hemp-spinning mills, manufactories of serges and coarse cloth, vinegar, candles, goose and goat skins, leather, tiles and pottery, paper-works, breweries, distilleries, lime-kilns and numerous flour-mills. Corn, wine, brandy, vegetables, fruit, chestnuts, fodder, cattle, stone, cutlery, arms and dressed hides are exported; butcher's beasts, colonial produce and coals are imported. The department is served by the Ouest-Etat and Orleans railways. Vienne forms part of the diocese of Poitiers, has its court of appeal and educational centre at Poitiers, and belongs to the region of the IX. army corps. The capital is Poitiers, and the department is divided for purposes of administration into 5 arrondissements (Poitiers, Chatellerault, Civray, Loudun, Montmorillon), 31 cantons and 300 communes. The more noteworthy towns are Poitiers, Chatellerault, Loudun, Montmorillon and Chauvigny, these .being separately treated. Other places of interest are St Maurice, Civray and St Savin, which have Romanesque churches, the abbey church of St Savin being remarkable for its mural paintings; Ligug6, with an abbey church of the 15th and 16th centuries ; Charroux, which has a Romanesque octagonal tower and other remains of a famous abbey ; and Sanxay, near which there are ruins of a theatre and other Gallo-Roman remains. Vienne is rich in megalithic monuments.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)