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Pons, the first capital of the Santon people

Pons has a particularly rich history and a very ancient origin, which makes it one of the oldest cities in the department. Its foundation thus predates that of Saintes, Saint-Jean d'Angély, Saujon or Marennes, all towns of Saintonge, of Roman - and not Celtic (santonne) - origin, whereas the majority of the towns of Aunis such as Châtelaillon-Plage, La Rochelle, Surgères are of medieval origin.

The distant origins of Pons go back to the dawn of the Protohistoric period when the sheltered rock site on the edge of the Soute valley favoured the sedentarisation of the first inhabitants.

But it is really only in the pre-Roman period that Pons will play an important role because of the settlement of the Celtic Santons people around the middle of the 1st millennium BC where the rocky promontory of the primitive city will shelter what will become the oppidum of Pons.

During the period of the Santons of Independence, Pons quickly became an active centre for crafts and trade and developed its exchanges with the Romans.

Pons during the Gallo-Roman period

When the Santons submitted to the armies of Julius Caesar in 52 BC, the Romans occupied manu militari the oppidum of Pons and transformed it into a castrum. They also built a typical Roman city and made Pons an important crossroads.

However, the abandonment of the castrum after the second half of the 1st century A.D. sounded the death knell for the Gallo-Roman city which, in the course of the 2nd century, suffered a devastating fire during the invasion of the Alamans.

After a hasty reconstruction, it experienced a short period of peace narrated by the poet Ausone, but with the fifth century came new barbarian invasions even more destructive, especially those committed by the Vandals in the autumn of 408, when the city disappeared for many centuries.

 

However, the revival of the small city will take place at the beginning of the Middle Ages thanks to the rise of Christianity in Saintonge.