Maine (province)

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Maine [mɛːn] is one of the traditional provinces of France. It corresponds to the former County of Maine, whose capital was also the city of Le Mans. The area, now divided into the departments of Sarthe and Mayenne, counts about 857,000 inhabitants.



Early Middle Ages

In the 8th and 9th centuries there existed a Duchy of Cénomannie (ducatus Cenomannicus), which several of the Carolingian kings used as an appanage. This duchy was a march that may have included several counties including Maine, and extended into Lower Normandy, all the way to the Seine. In 748, Pepin the Short, then Mayor of the Palace and thus the most powerful man in Francia after the king, gave this duchy to his half-brother Grifo. In 790 Charlemagne in turn gave it to his younger son, Charles the Younger. Charlemagne's grandson, the future Charles the Bald, and his son Louis the Stammerer inherited the title. The son-in-law of Charlemagne, Rorgon, was the count of Maine between 832 and 839. In the last half of the 9th century, Maine took on strategic importance because of invasions from Normandy and Brittany. Rorgon's son Gauzfrid in turn became Count of Maine. He fought against Salomon, King of Brittany and in 866 participated in the battle of Brissarthe alongside Robert the Strong, the Frankish Margrave of Neustria. When Gauzfrid died, Charles the Bald granted the title, as well as the county and the wider Neustrian march to Ragenold of Neustria, [1] because Gauzfrid's children were too young to act in that capacity. Ragenold, who may have been the son of Renaud d'Herbauges, died in 885 fighting the Vikings who were pillaging Rouen.

King Rudolph of France is said to have given Maine to the Norse nobleman Rollo, Duke of Normandy, in 924 . [2]

Map of Maine Carte maine.svg
Map of Maine

High Middle Ages

Angevin period (c. 1000–1063)

Bordering the county of Anjou to the south and the Duchy of Normandy to the north, Maine became a bone of contention between the rulers of these more powerful principalities. Hugh III of Maine (ruled c. 991–c. 1015) was forced to recognize Fulk III, Count of Anjou as his overlord.

Sometime between 1045 and 1047 Hugh IV married Bertha, daughter of Odo II, Count of Blois and widow of Alan III, Duke of Brittany. The Angevins did not want Maine to come under the influence of Blois, and Count Geoffrey Martel invaded Maine. But the Normans did not want Maine to return to the Angevin orbit, so were pulled into the conflict. The precise chronology is disputed, but it is clear that in 1051 Hugh IV died and the citizens of Le Mans opened their gate to the Angevins. Anjou wound up with effective control of most of the county, but the Normans did take several important strongholds on the Maine–Normandy border.

Norman conquest and rule (1062–1070)

Hugh IV's son Herbert II fled to the Norman court (though some historians say he was under Angevin control for a few years first) and his death in 1062 precipitated a succession crisis. Herbert died childless in 1062 after declaring William the Bastard, then Duke of Normandy, his heir. His sister Marguerite was engaged to William's eldest son, Robert Curthose and Herbert had taken refuge at William's court in 1056 when Geoffrey Martel, Duke of Anjou, invaded Le Mans.

While the county was in Angevin hands, Anjou had its own succession problem. Duke William of Normandy claimed the county on their behalf of Herbert's young sister Margaret, betrothed to his son Robert Curthose. The other claimant was Herbert's aunt Biota, a sister of Hugh IV, and her husband Walter, Count of the Vexin. William invaded Maine in force in 1063 and despite stiff opposition from Fulk IV, Count of Anjou and from local barons such as Geoffrey of Mayenne and Hubert de Sainte-Suzanne, he controlled the county by the beginning of 1064. Biota and Walter were captured at the taking of Le Mans. They died sometime later in 1063, poisoned, it was rumoured, though there is no hard evidence for this.[ citation needed ] Norman control of Maine secured the southern border of Normandy against Anjou and is one factor which enabled William to launch his successful invasion of England in 1066.

In 1069 the citizens of Le Mans revolted against the Normans. Soon some of the Manceaux barons joined the revolt, the Normans were expelled in 1070, and young Hugh V was proclaimed Count of Maine.

Independent period (1070–1129)

Hugh was the son of Azzo d'Este and his wife Gersendis, the other sister of Count Hugh IV. Azzo returned to Italy, leaving Gersendis in charge. The real power, however, was one of the Manceaux barons, Geoffrey of Mayenne, who may also have been Gersendis' lover.[ citation needed ] After Norman attacks in 1073, 1088, 1098 and 1099, Elias I succeeded his cousin Hugh V, who sold Maine to him in 1092 for ten thousand shillings. His daughter married Fulk V, Count of Anjou, who took Maine over in 1110 after the death of Elias. Henri Beauclerc, agreed to recognize him as Count of Maine so long as he acknowledged the Duke of Normandy as his overlord.

Plantagenet period (1129–1204)

Fulk's son Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou inherited Maine. When Geoffrey died in 1151, it passed to his son, King Henry II of England. Since Henry had been Duke of Normandy since 1150, Anjou, Maine, and Normandy all had the same ruler for the first time. Henry later founded the Plantagenet dynasty in England.

When Richard the Lionheart, ruler of England, Normandy, Aquitaine, Anjou, Brittany, Maine and Touraine, collectively known as the Angevin Empire, died in 1199, it sparked a war of succession that lasted until 1204. While John Lackland managed to become recognised as King of England, the Plantagenet holdings of Normandy, Touraine, Anjou and Maine were invaded and conquered by King Philip II of France. [3] During the invasion, the French seneschal William des Roches took Touraine, Anjou and Maine on behalf of the French king.

Late Middle Ages

In 1331 the Count of Maine became a peer of the realm.

After the Battle of Verneuil in 1424, the English occupied Maine, and John of Lancaster took the title of Duke. The English held Le Mans until 1448 and Fresnay until 1449. In 1481, Charles IV, Duke of Anjou bequeathed his lands to Louis XI of France, thus returning the county to the crown.

French Revolution

Since 1791, Maine forms the biggest part of two departments : Mayenne and Sarthe Location map of the Pays de la Loire region, France.svg
Since 1791, Maine forms the biggest part of two departments : Mayenne and Sarthe

At the beginning, a part of the Maine population supported the French revolution that took place in Paris. The extension of it and the general opposition of the other European countries provoked a war, that forced the authorities of the new founded French Republic to engage soldiers to fight against its European enemies. The growing need of soldiers had bad consequences in the Maine, the south of Normandy and the eastern part of Brittany: Young men refused to join the army and preferred to disappear and hide themselves. They organized a sort of secret army and they got the name of Chouans, from the nickname of their chiefs, Jean Cottereau. With such chiefs, Maine became quickly the centre of Chouan counter-revolution. They found local support everywhere among the peasants, who were shocked by the way the administration and the army treated the priests and the Roman Catholic religion.

Modern times

During the French revolution Maine became part of the new created départements Mayenne and Sarthe, now they are incorporated together in the Pays de la Loire Region.

See also

Related Research Articles

Anjou Province

Anjou was a French province straddling the lower Loire River. Its capital was Angers and it was roughly coextensive with the diocese of Angers. Anjou was bordered by Brittany to the west, Maine to the north, Touraine to the east and Poitou to the south. The adjectival form is Angevin, and inhabitants of Anjou are known as Angevins. During the Middle Ages, the County of Anjou, ruled by the Counts of Anjou, was a prominent fief of the French crown.

Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou Duke of the Normans

Geoffrey V, called the Handsome, the Fair or Plantagenet, was the count of Anjou, Touraine and Maine by inheritance from 1129, and also the duke of Normandy by conquest from 1144. His marriage to Empress Matilda, daughter of King Henry I of England, led to the centuries-long reign of the Plantagenet dynasty in England. The name "Plantagenet" was taken from Geoffrey's epithet. Geoffrey's ancestral domain of Anjou gave rise to the name Angevin, and what became known as the Angevin Empire in the 12th century.

Fulk IV, Count of Anjou "Le Réchin"

Fulk IV, called le Réchin, was the Count of Anjou from 1068 until his death. The nickname by which he is usually referred has no certain translation. Philologists have made numerous very different suggestions, including "quarreler", "rude", "sullen", "surly" and "heroic". He was noted to be "a man with many reprehensible, even scandalous, habits" by Orderic Vitalis.

Laval, Mayenne Prefecture and commune in Pays de la Loire, France

Laval is a town in western France, about 300 km (190 mi) west-southwest of Paris, and the capital of the Mayenne department. Laval was before the French Revolution part of the province of Maine, now split between two departments, Mayenne and Sarthe. Its inhabitants are called Lavallois. The commune of Laval proper, without the metropolitan area, is the 7th most populous in the Pays de la Loire region and the 132nd in France.

Odo, Count of Penthièvre Duke of Brittany, with Alan III

Odo of Rennes, Count of Penthièvre, was the youngest of the three sons of Duke Geoffrey I of Brittany and Hawise of Normandy, daughter of Richard I of Normandy. Eudon married Agnes of Cornouaille, the daughter of Alan Canhiart, Count of Cornouaille and sister of Hoel II, Duke of Brittany who was married in 1066 to Eudon's niece Hawise, Duchess of Brittany.

This is a list of counts and dukes of Maine, with their capital at Le Mans. In the thirteenth century it was annexed by France to the royal domain.

Fulk III, Count of Anjou

Fulk III, the Black, was an early Count of Anjou celebrated as one of the first great builders of medieval castles. It is estimated Fulk constructed approximately 100 castles, along with abbeys throughout the Loire Valley in what is now France. He fought successive wars with neighbors in Brittany, Blois, Poitou and Aquitaine and made four pilgrimages to Jerusalem during the course of his life. He had two wives and three children.

Geoffrey II, called Martel, was Count of Anjou from 1040 to 1060 and Count of Vendôme from 1032 to 1056. He was the son of Fulk the Black. He was bellicose and fought against William VII, Duke of Aquitaine, Theobald I, Count of Blois, and William, Duke of Normandy. During his twenty-year reign he especially had to face the ambitions of the Bishop of Le Mans, Gervais de Château-du-Loir, but he was able to maintain his authority over the County of Maine. Even before the death of his father in 1040, he had extended his power up to the Saintonge, where he founded the Abbey aux Dames. Geoffrey Martel and his wife Agnes also founded the Abbaye de la Trinité at Vendôme. The first mention of Geoffrey in the Gesta Normannorum Ducum reads: "Geoffrey, count of the Angevins, nicknamed Martel, a treacherous man in every respect, frequently inflicted assaults and intolerable pressure on his neighbors."

Angevin Empire Medieval dynastic union of states in present-day UK, France, and Ireland

The Angevin Empire describes the possessions of the Angevin kings of England who held lands in England and France during the 12th and 13th centuries. Its rulers were Henry II, Richard I (r. 1189–1199), and John (r. 1199–1216). The Angevin Empire is an early example of a composite state.

Conan I nicknamed Le Tort was the Duke of Brittany from 990 to his death.

Theobald I (913–975), called the Trickster, was the first count of Blois, Chartres, and Châteaudun as well as count of Tours.

Herbert I, called Wakedog, was the count of Maine from 1017 until his death. He had a turbulent career with an early victory that may have contributed to his later decline.

William des Roches was a French knight and crusader who acted as Seneschal of Anjou, of Maine and of Touraine. After serving the Angevin kings of England, in 1202 he changed his loyalty to King Philip II of France and became a leading member of his government.

Elias I, . called de la Flèche or de Baugency, was the Count of Maine, succeeding his cousin Hugh V, Count of Maine.

Ermengarde or Erembourg of Maine, also known as Erembourg de la Flèche, was Countess of Maine and the Lady of Château-du-Loir from 1110 to 1126. She was the daughter of Elias I, Count of Maine, and Mathilda of Château-du-Loire, daughter of Gervais II, Lord of Château-du-Loir.

Avesgaud de Bellême

Avesgaud was a French nobleman, a member of the powerful House of Bellême and was the Bishop of Le Mans from 997 until his death. His episcopate was overshadowed by his ongoing wars with Herbert I, Count of Maine.

Guy XIV de Laval, François de Montfort-Laval,, comte de Laval, baron de Vitré and of La Roche-Bernard, seigneur of Gâvre, of Acquigny, of Tinténiac, of Montfort and Gaël, of Bécherel, was a French nobleman, known for his account of Joan of Arc. He and his brother André de Lohéac were simultaneously vassals of the duke of Brittany and of the king of France.

Ermengarde-Gerberga of Anjou, also called Ermengarde of Anjou, was the Countess of Rennes, Regent of Brittany (992–994) and also Countess of Angoulême.

Pouancé Castle

The medieval castle of Pouancé is located in Pouancé, Maine-et-Loire, France, at the western border of the old province of Anjou, as a defence against Brittany. Along with the remains of the city walls, it covers a surface of three hectares. It is nicknamed the "second castle of Anjou" because of its size, which is just less that of the castle of Angers. It belongs to the Breton march, facing the Breton castle of Châteaubriant.

Guerech of Brittany, was Count of Nantes and Duke of Brittany from 981 to 988.


  1. Elisabeth Deniaux, Claude Lorren, Pierre Bauduin, Thomas Jarry, la Normandie avant les Normands, de la conquête romaine à l'arrivée des Vikings, Rennes, Ouest-France, 2002, p. 276 et p.389
  2. Les Annales de Flodoard explique que Rollon reçut Cinomannis et Baiocae que les historiens ont traduit par le Bessin et le Maine. Parmi eux, Lucien Musset estime peu probable que le Maine fut concédé. Il pense qu'il s'agissait juste de la partie du Maine que les Normands contrôlaient déjà, en l'occurrence l'Hiémois. En tout cas, selon l'historien normand François Neveux, "cette hypothétique cession du Mans et de sa région aux Normands servit cependant plus tard, dans le courant du xie siècle, à étayer les prétentions des ducs sur le Maine (François Neveux, La Normandie des ducs aux rois, Rennes, Ouest-France, 1998, p.31)
  3. Seel, Graham E. (2012). King John: An Underrated King. London: Anthem Press. pp. 39–52. ISBN   9780857282392 . Retrieved 16 November 2019.


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Coordinates: 48°00′N0°12′E / 48.00°N 0.20°E / 48.00; 0.20