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Maine (Traditional province, France)

Last modified: 2016-11-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: maine |
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Flag of Maine - Image by Pierre Gay, 13 May 2003

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History of Maine

Maine is traditionally divided in Upper-Maine, more or less the department of Sarthe, and Lower-Maine, more or less the department of Mayenne. The river Maine (la Maine, whereas the province is le Maine) has no source since it is made by the confluency of the rivers Mayenne and Sarthe, ten kilometers north of Angers, where the Maine flows into the Loire. The two rivers gave the name of the department of Maine-et-Loire, which matches more or less the traditional province of Anjou. Hence the river Maine does not even water the province of Maine.

The County of Maine, formed in the 10th century, was incorporated to the Duchy of Anjou in 1126 and became part of the Angevin Empire in 1154 when Henry Plantagenet was crowned King of England. Philip II Augustus confiscated Maine to John Lackland in 1204. Maine was given in 1248 to St. Louis' brother, Charles of Anjou, founder of the second house of Anjou. When Duke René of Anjou died in 1481, Maine and Anjou were incorporated to the royal domain by king Louis XI.

In the 16th century, Maine was granted as his apanage to Henry, King Charles IX's brother, who transfered it to his brother, the duke of Alen&cced;on, when crowned King of France in 1574. Maine was definitively reincorporated to the royal domain in 1584, following the death of the duke.

The title of Duke of Maine was borne, without territorial privilege, by Louis-Auguste of Bourbon (1670-1736), legitimized son of King Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. In 1714, the duke was granted a rank immediatly below the legitimate princes and could have succeeded the king for lack of prince. However, Louis XIV's will was nullified after his death and the king was succeeded by his grand grandson Louis XV. During the minority of Louis XV (1715-1723), a period known as la Régence, the power was exerted by Regent Philippe of Orléans (1624-1723), son of Philippe of Orléans and of the mighty Palatinate Princess, and therefore Louis XIV's nephew. The Regency was characterized by a strong reaction agains the last years of Louis XIV's reign, and a great moral liberty superseded the religious dictatorship. The Regent completely revised the foreign policy of the Kingdom and opposed to Philip V of Spain. Antonio, Prince of Cellamare (1657-1733), the Spanish ambassador in France, plotted with the Duke and the Duchess of Maine in order to overthrow the Regent and to appoint Philip V King of France. The Cellamare's plot was foiled and the Duke of Maine was jailed from 1718 to 1720.
His wife, Louise of Bourbon-Condé (1670-1753), was the grand daughter of Prince Louis II of Condé, better known as the Great Condé. She organized in the castle of Sceaux, purchased in 1700, a brilliant court famous for the "Sceaux nights" (theater and musical performances, fireworks etc.). Her temper was so bad and her spirit so scathing that she was nicknamed Dona Salpetria.

Ivan Sache, 13 May 2003

Flag of Maine

The flag of Maine is the banner of the arms D'azur semé de fleurs de lis d'or à la bordure cousue de gueules chargée au canton dextre d'un lion d'argent (Azure semy de lis or a border gules in dexter chief a lion rampant argent).

This banner represents the coat of arms of Count Charles of Maine, Louis II of Anjou's son, who added to his father's arms a a lion from the Plantagenet arms as a surbrisure. Therefore, the banner of arms of Maine is therefore Anjou ancient (with a semy of fleurs-de-lis) with the lion.

In his Notice historique sur les blasons des anciennes provinces de France (Historical note on the coats of arms of the ancient French provinces, 1941), Jacques Meurgey assigned to Maine arms with the lion argent in the canton of the main field and not in the border (D'azur semé de fleurs de lis d'or au lion d'argent posé au canton dextre du chef et à la bordure de gueules - Azure semy of fleur-de-lis or a lion argent in canton a border gules), adding that the lion is sometimes shown, erroneously, as purple.
The arms ascribed to the province in the Armorial Général (and never used) are D'argent à deux canons de sable en sautoir au chef d'azur chargé d'une fleur de lis d'or (Argent two cannons sable crossed per saltire a chief azure a fleur-de-lis or).

The banner of arms of Maine was used by Hervé Pinoteau as an element of the banner of arms of the Region Pays de la Loire, to which both the departments of Sarthe and Mayenne belong.

Ivan Sache, 14 June 2009

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