Past Cities

Angers, Pays de la Loire, France

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Angers, located in the Pays de la Loire region of France, is a city steeped in rich history and cultural heritage. Situated on the banks of the Maine River, Angers boasts a strategic location that has influenced its development and played a significant role in shaping its history. From its early beginnings to the present day, the city has experienced numerous political changes, witnessed key historical events, and evolved into a vibrant center of art, education, and industry.

The recorded history of Angers dates back to ancient times, with evidence of human settlement in the area as early as the Neolithic period. However, it was during the Roman era that the city began to take shape. The Romans recognized the strategic importance of the region and established a fortified town called Juliomagus, which served as a crucial crossroads for trade and military activities. The town thrived under Roman rule, attracting merchants and artisans, and its population grew steadily.

Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Angers fell under the control of various Germanic tribes, such as the Visigoths and the Franks. During this period, the city experienced a decline in population and economic activity. However, with the advent of the Carolingian Dynasty in the 8th century, Angers regained its prominence as a regional power.

The Middle Ages marked a significant period of growth for Angers. The city became the capital of the County of Anjou and a major center of the Angevin Empire. It was during this time that the iconic Château d'Angers, an imposing fortress that still stands today, was constructed. The Counts of Anjou, notably Geoffrey Plantagenet and his son Henry II, played a crucial role in European politics, with Henry II eventually becoming King of England. The influence of the Plantagenet dynasty brought wealth, prestige, and architectural advancements to Angers.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Angers flourished as a center of commerce, renowned for its textile industry, particularly the production of high-quality tapestries. The city's wealth attracted merchants from across Europe, contributing to its population growth. By the 14th century, Angers had become one of the largest cities in France, with an estimated population of around 30,000 inhabitants.

Political turmoil and conflicts characterized the history of Angers during the Renaissance and beyond. The Wars of Religion, which ravaged France in the 16th century, had a profound impact on the city. Angers, a predominantly Catholic city, witnessed clashes between Catholics and Protestants, leading to significant destruction and loss of life. The subsequent Edict of Nantes in 1598, which granted limited religious toleration to Protestants, brought a measure of stability to the city.

The 17th and 18th centuries marked a period of relative peace and prosperity for Angers. The city's population continued to grow steadily, reaching around 60,000 inhabitants by the eve of the French Revolution. However, the revolution itself brought significant upheaval to Angers. The revolutionary fervor and political changes that swept across France led to the abolition of the nobility, the confiscation of church property, and the restructuring of local governance.

During the Industrial Revolution, Angers experienced a transformation from a predominantly agrarian economy to an industrial one. The city embraced new technologies and became a center for textile manufacturing, metalworking, and machine production. The growth of industry brought an influx of workers, and the population of Angers soared to over 100,000 inhabitants by the early 20th century.