Flag of Anjou
Coat of arms of Anjou
Coat of arms
Etymology: Territory of Angers
The Province of Anjou in 1789.
The Province of Anjou in 1789.
 • TypeFeudal administrative province
 • Counts/DukesIngelger (first)
Louis XVI (last)

Anjou (UK: /, US: /,[1][2][3] French: [ɑ̃ʒu]; Latin: Andegavia) is a historical province of France straddling the lower Loire River. Its capital was Angers and it was roughly coextensive with the diocese of Angers. It bordered Brittany to the west, Maine to the north, Touraine to the east and Poitou to the south. The adjectival form of Anjou 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.

The region takes its name from the Celtic tribe of the Andecavi, which submitted to Roman rule following the Gallic Wars. Under the Romans, the chief fortified settlement of the Andecavi became the city of Juliomagus, the future Angers. The territory of the Andecavi was organized as a civitas (called the civitas Andegavensis or civitas Andegavorum).

Under the Franks, the city of Juliomagus took the name of the ancient tribe and became Angers. Under the Merovingians, the history of Anjou is obscure. It is not recorded as a county (comitatus) until the time of the Carolingians. In the late ninth and early tenth centuries the viscounts (representatives of the counts) usurped comital authority and made Anjou an autonomous hereditary principality. The first dynasty of counts of Anjou, the House of Ingelger, ruled continuously down to 1205. In 1131, Count Fulk V became the King of Jerusalem; then in 1154, his grandson, Henry "Curtmantle" became King of England. The territories ruled by Henry and his successors, which stretched from Ireland to the Pyrenees, are often called the Angevin Empire. This empire was broken up by the French king Philip II, who confiscated the dynasty's French lands, including Anjou in 1205.

The county of Anjou was united to the royal domain between 1205 and 1246, when it was turned into an apanage for the king's brother, Charles I of Anjou. This second Angevin dynasty, a branch of the Capetian dynasty, established itself on the throne of Naples and Hungary. Anjou itself was united to the royal domain again in 1328, but was detached in 1360 as the Duchy of Anjou for the king's son, Louis I of Anjou. The third Angevin dynasty, a branch of the House of Valois, also ruled for a time the Kingdom of Naples. The dukes had the same autonomy as the earlier counts, but the duchy was increasingly administered in the same fashion as the royal domain and the royal government often exercised the ducal power while the dukes were away. When the Valois line failed and Anjou was incorporated into the royal domain again in 1480, there was little change on the ground. Anjou remained a province of crown until the French Revolution (1790), when the provinces were reorganized.


Under the kingdom of France, Anjou was practically identical with the diocese of Angers, bound on the north by Maine, on the east by Touraine, on the south by Poitou (Poitiers) and the Mauges, and the west by the countship of Nantes or the duchy of Brittany.[4][5]

It occupied the greater part of what is now the department of Maine-et-Loire. On the north, it further included Craon, Candé, Bazouges (Château-Gontier), Le Lude; on the east, it further added Château-la-Vallière and Bourgueil; while to the south, it lacked the towns of Montreuil-Bellay, Vihiers, Cholet, and Beaupréau, as well as the district lying to the west of the Ironne and Thouet on the left bank of the Loire, which formed the territory of the Mauges [fr].[5]