The Province of Anjou; Civilization from Beginning to Present Time
Anjou is a region of western France, near both sides of the Loire in an area now referred to as the department of Maine-et-Loire. Anjou is a region which encompasses many beautiful, historical and cultural areas. Angers, France is the capitol town of Maine-et-Loire. The history of Anjou, France, has been traced back to just after Julius Ceasar occupied what was the Roman civilization of Andecavi. Anjou history is documented back to Andes, the Gallic state, after which it was referred to as pagus, which was at that time a district of the Franks. Shortly thereafter, Anjou was referred to as comitatus, which can be translated loosely to mean the countship of Anjou.
Comparisons have been made between the countship of Anjour and the ecclesiastical diocese of Angers, which at the time, occupied provinces further north such as Craon, Bazouges, Cande, Chateau-Gontier, and Le Lude. The ecclesiastical diocese of Angers, also occupied at the time, provinces to the east such as Bourgueil and Chateau-la-Valliere. Available territory in the region, which were not occupied by the diocese of Angers, at the time, were the provinces to the south, such as, Vihiers, Beaupreau, Montreuil-Bellay, and Cholet, as well as, some territory to the west, the territory of Mauges. During this time, Anjou and Angers were bordered also by Touraine, Nantes, Maine, the Mauges andPoitiers.
At one time, through earliest documented history, Charles the Bald was the reigning figure for this region of France. It has been said that the integrity of Anjou was facing a danger during the reign of Charles the Bald; that danger being the Normans of Normandy. The Normans were still trying to conquer the region. In 861, Charles the Bald put the fate of his countrymen into the hands of trusted acquaintance, Robert the Strong. Robert the Strong passed away in 866 at Brissarthe in a battle against the Normans.
Succeeding Robert the Strong, was Hugh the Abbot, taking over leadership of the countship of Anjou. The same year Hugh the Abbot succeeded Robert the Strong, Hugh the Abbot also passed away, and the countship of Anjou was then passed to one of Robert the Strong’s oldest sons, Odo.
The end of the 9th century brought another leader, Fulk the Red who was son of Ingelgeruis. Fulk the Red was given the countship of Anjou in 898. Fulk the Red began a period of time in Anjou history referred to as “The Fulks”.
The Fulks period in Anjou was a time when the original Fulk the Red was succeeded by his first son Fulk II the Good, who was then succeeded by his son, Geoffrey I Grisegonalle Greytunic. Geoffrey I Grisegonalle Greytunic began a time of policy and regulation. By this time, western Anjou had recovered their land from the Dukes of Brittany. Successor to Anjou, Geoffrey I Grisegonalle Greytunic introduced policies of expansion and extension through boundaries of the various countships, as well as, initiating a new conquest for any neighboring territories that had been annexed previous to his reign. During this time in a different region of France yet still quite important to the future of Anjou, the area of Saumur was now under the dictatorship of Blois and Tours, who were two counts.
Geoffrey I Grisegonalle Greytunic was successful in obtaining in his court the count of Nantes as well as the duke of Aquitaine. This marked the beginning of his French empire. Geoffrey I Grisegonalle Greytunic’s son, Fulk III Nerra successfully took back the region of Nantes. Fulk III Nerra was also successful in obtaining the region of Tours however shortly thereafter, it was taken back from him when King Robert the Pious turned against him in 997.
The count of Blois, Odo II, and Fulk III Nerra were involved in a confrontation in 1016. This confrontation was formed when Odo II was defeated at Pontlevoy, in 1016. In retaliation Odo II tried to take Montboyau, at which point, Fulk III Nerra took Saumur. Fulk III Nerra took over Saumur years later, in 1026. Fulk III Nerra’s son, Geoffrey Martel, was born in 1040. His son was also his successor. It was Geoffrey Martel who rose against Theobald III, the count of Blois, which gained for the Angevins the territory of Touraine. Geoffrey Martel had no children of his own, so; on his deathbed there was cause for a bit of controversy as to who should succeed him. It was customary in those days that the son of the eldest brother should succeed to his father’s patrimony. However, he left the countship to his nephew, Geoffrey III the Bearded. Geoffrey III the Bearded also had a brother, Fulk le Rechin. Fulk le Rechin, as the brother of Geoffrey III the Bearded and newphew of Geoffrey Martel, was upset about his brother being given the countship and Fulk le Rechin took the opportunity to rise up against his brother Geoffrey III the Bearded, and make himself leader and master of Saumur. He took advantage of the unrest and chaos which took place once his brother had succeeded their uncle and, due to his brother’s unskillful policy and inexperience, was able to step into leadership position of Saumur. This occurred in 1067. In doing so, he cast his brother, Geoffrey III the Bearded, into prison. During the Middle Ages, Anjou was occupied by the Foulques dynasty and exceedingly became the most impressive French feudal state. Due to Anjou being a well respected and an impressive French feudal state, the province acquired many more territories through dynasty marriages, and conquest of other surrounding provinces. It was through dynastic marriages and conquest that the province of Anjou obtained Touraine, Aquitaine, Normandy, and Maine. Aquitaine was acquired when the Count of Anjou, Geoffrey V, married Eleanor of Aquitaine. And Geoffrey V acquired Normandy through a series of conquests and campaigns after Henry I died in 1135. Geoffrey V has been criticized throughout the years by historians and, the like, for attempting to profit from his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Several successions later, and into 1151 after the death of Geoffrey the Handsome, a successor to the Anjou region, Henry, son of Geoffrey the Handsome, was heir to the empire of Anjou. Henry and his brother Geoffrey, other son to Geoffrey the Handsome, were in conflict as to who would take over what provinces and territories. Henry’s brother Geoffrey had obtained three territories; Chinon, Mirebeau and Loudun. Geoffrey tried to take Anjou, as he felt all of their father’s inheritance should fall to him. This was on the belief that Henry was given the inheritance by their mother. Even though Henry had previously agreed to the will, in which he himself received the maternal inheritance, and his brother inherited their father’s possessions, went against his brother Geoffrey and took back two of the territories; Chinon and Mirebeau. Henry would succeed in maintaining the province of Anjou throughout the rest of his life.
When Henry passed in 1189, Anjou went to Henry’s son Richard I of England. His son Richard I of England, died ten years later and Arthur of Brittany inherited Anjou. In 1204, Philip II of Spain conquered the Angevin kingdom which then passed to the French crown. Following this conquest, any future princes of the French royal house bore the title Duc d’Anjou. Anjou was also the landmark for the rising of the Vendee against the French Revolution.
Throughout the 12th century, beginning with Philip II of Spain conquering the province, the province of Anjou was basically under the rule of the Kings of England. Years later, in 1246, Anjou was given to Charles I, by his brother Louis IX. At the time, Charles I was count of Provence and soon to become King of Sicily and King of Naples.
The following years were complete with unfortunate circumstances for Charles I due to his inattentive ways toward Anjou. Charles I gave Anjou to his son, Charles II the Lame. Charles II the Lame later married his daughter Margaret to Charles of Valois. Charles of Valois was the son of Philip III the Bold and gave Margaret both Anjou and Maine for a dowry, in exchange for the courtship of Barcelona, and the kingdoms of Aragon and Valentia.
Anjou remained a duchy from 1297 to 1328 at which time Anjou became territory of the French crown. Anjou again became a duchy in 1360 and changed again when King Louis XI annexed the region to the royal dominions in 1480. In 1515 when Anjou was again a duchy, King Francis I gave the region to his mother, Louise of Savoy. Louise of Savoy died in 1531 and Anjou returned to the possession of King Francis I. Years later when the duchy was in the possession of Henry II, he gave the region to his son Henry of Valois, who years later in 1574, when he was King, conceded the duchy to his brother Francis, Duke of Alencon. Francis died and in 1584 Anjou once again became part of the royal domain.
Today, the French Province of Anjou offers evidence of a time gone by well before the French Revolution, with its ancient churches, abbeys, hidden alleys and private manors. Tourists and the like will not find Anjou on a map of France; however tourists will find many hidden treasures among what is left from the historic events at this ancient province.
No related essays.