Haut Val de SèvreHis military past

Military history

Saint-Maixent-l’Ecole and its military school are inseparable. A shared history that reminds the visitors at every step in the town!

A castle as an anchor

In the Middle Ages, the city was surrounded by fortifications. To ensure better protection, King Louis VIII ordered the construction of a fortress between Niort and Poitiers. The citadel was made to disuade attackers with its impressive walls : 40 meters long on each side and 10 meters high , it was flanked by six towers.

After the Revolution, the castle became the headquarters of a horse breeding farm and then a horse training school. In 1880, it was destroyed to allow the construction of the infantry military school and the site was renamed to the Merchant district.

The arrival of the military

In 1877, the 114th infantry regiment took up residence in the Canclaux quarter, the former building of the Saint-Maixent abbey. The military schools cohabited with the regiment from 1881 in Saint-Maixent.

The town was so closely linked to its military school that it took the name of Saint-Maixent l’École on 7 July 1926.

The École Nationale des Sous-Officiers d’Active (ENSOA) was founded on 1 September 1963. It provides all the general and advanced training for non-commissioned officers in the Army and trains nearly 3000 students each year. Their motto: “rise through knowledge and excellence to serve”.

The merchant quarter

au cœur de la vie militaire

At the heart of military life Since 1881, the following schools have been located in the Merchant district: the infantry and battle tank military school, the executive school, the infantry training school, and since 1963, the national school for active non-commissioned officers. Establishing itself in the heart of the city, the ENSOA thus perpetuates a tradition that has linked the city to the army since the Middle Ages.

The NCO (Non-commissioned officers) museum opened its doors on 18 December 1986 : its purpose is to explain the local and national military history.

Under renovation since September 2022. Reopening planned for 2024.