Haute-Vienne is one of the 83 French departments made during the French revolution, on 4 March 1790. It was created from parts of the old province of Limousin, its southern half, and of the county of Marche, its northern half, as well as some parts of
Angoumois and Poitou.
The new department had six districts: Limoges, Le Dorat, Bellac, Saint-Junien, Saint-Yrieix and Saint-Léonard. The capital (now prefecture) was Limoges.
In 1800, with the creation of the arrondissements in France, the six districts were changed into four arrondissements: Limoges, Bellac, Rochechouart and Saint-Yrieix.
On 10 September 1926, the arrondissement of Saint-Yrieix was eliminated.