Anjou, an ancient province of N. W. France, chiefly constituting the present department of Maine-et-Loire, with Angers for its capital. In the time of the Romans it was inhabited by the Andegavi. During the Frankish and feudal eras its counts played an important part in European history. The eldest branch of the family traced its descent to the days of Charles the Bald in the 9th century, and the younger branches to those of Louis VIII. and XL, in the 13th. Among the eminent counts of Anjou, those of the name of Foulques or Fulk were distinguished as crusaders, especially Foulques V., who in 1131 succeeded his father-in-law Baldwin II. as king of Jerusalem. His son Geoffrey, surnamed Plantagenet, became through his marriage (1127) with the empress Matilda the father of Henry II. of England. Charles, brother of St. Louis, commonly called Charles of Anjou (horn about 1220), a brave crusader, heir to Anjou and Provence, became the founder of the younger branch which reigned over the Two Sicilies. In 1356 Anjou was made a duchy.

Louis, son of King John II., was the first duke, and ancestor of the "good King Rene of Anjou." The last of this branch, Charles IV., bequeathed the duchy to Louis XL, who permanently annexed it to France (1483). Since that time Anjou has merely given honorary titles to Bourbon princes. Among them was Francois, fourth son of Henry II. and Catharine de' Medici, duke of Alencon, afterward duke of Anjou (born in 1554). He was famous for his zeal in favor of the Huguenots, and his opposition in the Netherlands to Philip II. After having been for a short time acknowledged by the Netherlander as ruler under the title of duke of Brabant (1582), they expelled him on account of his autocratic measures. He was one of the rejected suitors of Queen Elizabeth.. Several descendants' of Louis XIV. bore the title of dukes of Anjou. Louis XV. bore it anterior to that of dauphin; and Philip V. was known in France under the same title before he became king of Spain, at the beginning of the 18th century.