Inland from the coast, history-steeped Poitiers was founded by the Pictones, a Gaulish tribe. The city rose to prominence as the former capital of Poitou, the region governed by the Counts of Poitiers in the Middle Ages. A pivotal turning point came in AD 732, when somewhere near Poitiers (the exact site is not known) the cavalry of Charles Martel defeated the Muslim forces of Abd ar-Rahman, governor of Córdoba, thus ending Muslim attempts to conquer France. The city's remarkable Romanesque churches are in part a legacy of Eleanor of Aquitaine's financial support.
Poitiers has one of the oldest universities in the country, established in 1432 and today a linchpin of this lively city.