Maine (province)

Maine (province)


Coat of arms
Country France
Time zone CET

Le Maine is one of the traditional provinces of France (not to be confused with La Maine, the river). It corresponds to the old county of Maine, with its center, the city of Le Mans.



Bordering the county of Anjou in the south and the Duchy of Normandy in the north, Maine was a small matter of contention between the rulers of these more powerful principalities.

Conflict and contention

Sometime between 1045 and 1047 Hugh IV married Bertha, daughter of Odo II of Blois. The Angevins did not want Maine to come under the influence of Blois, and Count Geoffrey Martel invaded Maine. The Normans had just as little desire to see Maine return to the Angevin orbit, and they too 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.

Claimed by Normandy

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. While the county was in Angevin hands, Anjou had its own succession problem. Herbert's young sister Margaret was betrothed to Robert Curthose, son of Duke William of Normandy, and William claimed the county on their behalf. The other claimant was Herbert's aunt Biota (a sister of Hugh IV) and her husband Walter, Count of the Vexin.

Norman invasion and control

William invaded Maine in force and 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 rumored, though there is no hard evidence for this.

The 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, and young Hugh V was proclaimed as Count of Maine. He 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.

The Kingdom of France annexed Maine in 1203, just before Normandy.

French Revolution

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 Britanny : 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, according to one of their chief's nickname, called Jean Cottereau. With such chiefs, Maine became quickly the center 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 Loire Region.


See also

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