Anjou

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Anjou

Anjou (äNzhōō´), region and former province, W France, coextensive roughly with Maine-et-Loire and parts of Indre-et-Loire, Mayenne, and Sarthe depts. Angers, the historic capital, and Saumur are the chief towns. A fertile lowland, Anjou is traversed by the Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe, Loir, and Maine rivers. It is chiefly an agricultural area with excellent vineyards that produce the renowned Saumur sparkling wines. Occupied by the Andecavi, a Gallic people, the region was conquered by Caesar. Anjou fell to the Franks in the 5th cent. and became a countship under Charlemagne in the 9th cent. By the 10th cent. it was in the hands of the first line of the counts of Anjou (see Angevin dynasty), who expanded their holdings vigorously. Fulk Nerra, who founded the Angevin dynasty, acquired Saumur from the counts of Blois. His successor, Geoffrey Martel, won Touraine from Blois (1044) and Maine from Normandy (1051). Fulk (d. 1143), the grandson of Fulk Nerra, after protracted wars with Henry I of England over the possession of Maine, married his son Geoffrey (Geoffrey Plantagenet) to Henry's daughter Matilda. Geoffrey ruled Anjou (1129–51) and conquered Normandy, of which he was crowned duke in 1144. His son, later Henry II of England, married Eleanor of Aquitaine and with her inheritance ruled most of W France. When Henry II's grandson, Arthur I, duke of Brittany, rebelled against his uncle, John of England, he won the support of Philip II of France, to whom he paid homage (1199) for Anjou, Maine, and Touraine. After Arthur's death, Philip II seized (1204) all Anjou. In 1246, Louis IX of France gave Anjou in appanage to his brother Charles, count of Provence, who later also became king of Sicily and Naples (see Charles I). Charles II of Naples gave Anjou as dowry to his daughter Margaret when she married Charles of Valois, son of Philip III of France. When their son became (1328) King Philip VI of France, Anjou was again reunited to the French crown. John II of France, however, made Anjou a duchy (1360) and gave it to his son Louis (later Louis I of Naples). Louis XI of France inherited Anjou after the death (1480) of René, grandson of Louis I, and the death (1481) of Charles of Maine, René's nephew, the last of the Angevin line. Anjou was definitively annexed to France in 1487. In the 16th cent. Anjou was held as appanage at various times; the last duke was Francis of Alençon and Anjou. The region was devastated during the Wars of Religion (1562–98; see under Religion, Wars of). During the French Revolution the rising of the Vendée, the Royalist revolt against the revolution, occurred in Anjou.

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