The former province of Anjou encompassed the areas of southern Armorica, Indre-et-Loire, and Sarthe. Anjou's capital city was Angers. Today, the area once covered by the province is part of the Maine-et-Loire department.
In ancient times, the area was populated by the Gallic Andecave Celts, but Anjou was conquered around 50 BC by the Romans and again later by the Franks.
Count Robert le Fort became head of the province in 870, and was followed by an unbroken line to the Count of Anjou who joined the first Crusade to Jerusalem in 1131. When he married Mattilda of England the Count acquired the title and lands of the Duke of Normandy in 1154. His son Henry became King of England. Henry married Eleanor of Aquitaine, the divorced wife of Louis VII of France. Eleanor's marriage transferred a large part of France into English possession.
Anjou passed from the English crown back to a French possession in 1205. The reinstated Dukes of Anjou held the family name Plantagenet, a name also borne by the Kings of England at that time.
King Louis VII held Anjou and Maine from about 1205. He was succeeded by Charles 1st, King of France who founded the second Royal House of Anjou. On his marriage in Provence in 1266, Charles acquired the Duchy of Naples. His granddaughter brought Anjou to Charles' brother, Philippe la Belle Plantagenet of France. But in 1302 Philippe IV established the States General, removing much of the power of the local nobility, and asserted himself over the Church and removing that office to Avignon in 1309. In 1328, Charles, son of Philippe de Valois, united the province with the Crown of France.
In later years, the Royal Princes of France used the title Duke de Anjou. The Duke also reigned over Sicily, Naples and Provence, and later over Hungary, Poland and Constantinople. In 1487, Anjou was secured once and for all as by the French Crown.
- ^ Swyrich, Archive materials
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