Nivernais (nēvĕrnāˈ) [key], region and former province, central France. It roughly coincides with Nièvre dept. Drained by the Loire and the Yonne, it is a hilly plateau, rising to the Morvan Mts. in the east. It has metallurgical, chemical, and livestock industries. Nevers is its chief town and historic capital. A county after the 10th cent., it passed (1384) through inheritance to Philip the Bold of Burgundy, and later, as a duchy, passed (1565) through a complicated succession to the house of Gonzaga. Cardinal Mazarin bought (1659) the title, which remained with his family even after Louis XIV incorporated (1669) Nivernais into the royal domain.