Welcome to « Vicus Jovenciacus » or « Jovis Viens », Jupiter’s borough. It is nice to imagine some druids building a temple dedicated to Jupiter overlooking the Herbasse river and the surrounding woods. When Christianity came to this part of Gaulle, the burgh was named JOVINCIEU or JOVENZIEUX.
History books are not very accurate, but we know that in 1732, when Saracen troops invaded the country, the site became a shelter for Corbus, 20th bishop for the Grenoble Diocese. When running away, the bishop took Saint-Donat’s relics with him. Saint Donat was a Holy Hermit, born in Orléans,who died at the beginning of the 6th century in the Lure range, near Sisteron. On the ruins of Jupiter’s temple a palace and the church were built and they were dedicated to Saint Donat by Corbus and his successors. Saint Donat’s fame was so great that Jovinzieux became a famous place of pilgrimage and took a new name « Castrum Sancti Donati » during the ninth century.
During the Second World War, Saint Donat was an important place for underground fighters, in
connection with the Vercors « Maquis ». It was,too,a shelter for many refuges, and among them, two
famous writers, Louis Aragon and Elsa Triolet.
In the Middle Ages, the village remained huddled within its ramparts. Its development was linked to the digging of a cabal to divert the waters of Herbasse. Hydraulic powser was used to turn mills and, from the Renaissance onwards, various workshops to produce hemp and paper pulp. The major expansion of the village took place in the 18th and 19th centuries with the establishment of "factories": spuinning mills and silk mills, followed by shoe factories.
During the Second World War, Saint Donat played an important role in organising the Resistance and welcolmed many refugees, including Louis Aragon and Elsa Triolet. The inhabitants were deeply affected by the Nazi army's day of reprisals on June 15th 1944.
In the Donation countryside, crops are adapted to the sandy soil: market gardening and arboriculture.