A short history!
Prehistoric & Ancient
The discovery of a small flint tool is the oldest trace of human occupation in Angers during the Lower Palaeolithic Period.
Up to the beginning of Ancient times, the area to the north of the Loire was settled by the Celtic peoples of Andes who ultimately gave their name to Angers. By the 1st century BC, a large defended Iron Age settlement had been built on what is now the site of the city of Angers. This small town of artisans grew with more houses and Gallo-Roman villas baths. By the 3rd century AD, the town was fully enclosed.
With the arrival of Christianity, Angers entered the Medieval Period. A monastery and large cemetery dominated the landscape. From 850 AD, Angers found itself besieged by both the Bretons and the Normans. The Treaty of Angers vainly attempted to protect it from invasion. Charles le Chauve (the Bald) created a large and contested frontier that included the territories of Anjou, the Touraine and Maine.
By 929 AD, Foulques 1er d’Anjou (Fulk Ist of Anjou) known as ‘the Red’ took the title of Count and founded the first dynasty of the counts of Anjou. For a short time, calm was restored.
In the 12th century, Henri II Plantagenet ruled over the Angevin empire that stretched from Scotland to the Pyrenees. Angers castle housed the seat of the dynasty and the King's Court. During this medieval period, the influence of Angers greatly expanded. Its schools of law, medicine and theology, renowned throughout Europe, were reorganised into universities.
It was the personality and influence of King René, the last of the Princes of Anjou, who laid the foundations of Angers as a cultural, intellectual and political centre. After the Plague and the One Hundred Years War, the city re-discovered its momentum and experienced a new golden age of literary, artistic and scientific expansion. Rabelais, Joachim du Bellay, Clément Janequin and Ambroise Paré put their stamp on what had already become France’s 5th city to install a printing press.
17th century to the Revolution
During the first half of the 17th century, a mood of unrest spread across France. Famine, epidemics and a growing tax burden prompted the Fronde Angevine revolt. To punish those who had protested, the privilege of free elections of the City Council were removed.
The French revolution saw the dismantling of the old Royal provinces and bureaucracy, known as the Ancien Régime. New departments (départements) were established and in the Anjou, the Mayenne-et-Loire was born in 1790. This would later become Maine-et-Loire (department 49).
19th century to the present day
In the 19th century, Angers suffered collateral damage from the large Parisian-style city transformations led by Haussmann. Haussmann influenced new buildings that began to rise from the 1870s onwards. The city’s old road structure and fortifications were breached, new buildings with decorative façades and statues began to rise from the debris, including a new theatre ‘Le Palais des Arts’.
Angers had become flirtatious with its architecture and subsequent buildings like the Continental Hotel (or Blue House) gave Angers an ‘art deco’ feel.
From June 1940, the German army occupied Angers. In 1941, Victor Chatenay created the first Angevin resistance movement, the Legion of Honour. After the war, he became mayor of Angers, beginning an extensive programme of modernization and industrialization that took the city into the 21stcentury.
Today, advanced technologies and research fuel the boom that sees Angers continue to grow in importance on a regional, national and world stage.