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Noirmoutier island heritage and its history

The island's landscapes and architecture tell its history. You just need to look around to understand and go back in time…

L'Île d'Her, first noun of Noirmoutier island

Probably at the beginning of our era, the collapsing of Bourgneuf bay soil gave birth to the island of Her, first noun of Noirmoutier. The island was at that time inhabited by Romans and Gallo-Romans; in Le Vieil was discovered the marks of an ancient Roman villa (in 1975, by the association “Les Amis de l'île de Noirmoutier”). Later, the dune junction with the small island of Barbâtre, and then alluvium sediments gave to the island its current borders. But the story really began with the arrival of Saint Philbert monk on the island around 674, who encouraged the islanders to take advantage of their land (salt marshes, agriculture, windmills). He died 10 years after, after having accomplished the biggest part of his task, and after having left the island relatively prosperous and peaceful as it seems.

The Abbey destroyed by Vikings

Only for a few time, alack! Indeed, the 8th century was the beginning of calamities. The Abbey was devastated by pirates (coming from Spain, Basque land or from Saracen land). The Vikings soon followed on the coasts during two centuries. Under the Norman pressure, the monks and a great part of the population was obliged to flee the island. The island had always been coveted by pirates, corsairs and foreign armies (English, Dutch, Spanish) because of its geographical position, but also for the salt, which at that time was a great wealth.

The most troubled period was certainly the Revolution

Indeed, the island was invaded by royalists and republicans by turns, and it changed hands four times between 1793 and January 1794, not without having costed a lot of blood and tears. The republican army had the last word. More than 1500 soldiers of Vendée were executed in a few days and the island became Vendée's prison. The monastic period and the troubled period were over. The islanders, free, were able to begin the great tasks that were as urgent as important: defence against the sea, sand dune stabilisation, the pursuing of drying up, the Gois layout, the construction of roads and schools, the restoration of churches… Agriculture, salt and fishing were also developing. The island of Noirmoutier finally left the nest.

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