Extract from the website
Click the picture to visit the
Over the centuries, the importance of the river has decreased. Today, although it is still an essential element of the local landscape, it plays no role in the economic environment. But by becoming a navigable waterway again a few years ago, it found a new purpose - river tourism. A fluvial stopover from which to develop new events was created. Rich in its diverse architectural heritage and ongoing urban rehabilitation, the town of Mayenne, of course, also plays the tourist card.
The region was once occupied by the Aulerces-Diablinthes, one of the many tribes of Gaul. Their capital was Noviodunum (Jublains today, 10 km from Mayenne).
In 1063 William the Conqueror attacked the castle and burned it down. For more than two centuries, Mayenne was the subject of continual struggle, first against the Normans, and then against the English during the Hundred Years' War. Evetually, the English took control in 1425 and occupied it until 1448. Peace returned to Mayenne which was returned to France. The castle was again taken in 1592 by the Prince de Conti on the orders of Henri IV, after 17 days of siege.
Mayenne was later established as a Duchy, which Mazarin, the famous minister of Louis XIII and the regency, purchased in 1654. He sent his minister and future replacement Colbert, who gave his master a fairly bleak picture of the city. Colbert was the first urban planner of Mayenne. He drained the marshes and lakes, build a large sewer and brought spring water to the fountains of Saint Vincent and Hercé. He also took stringent measures to improve municipal hygiene. Mazarin also ordered the construction of the Town Hall, completed in 1668. Mayenne also suffered during the Revolution and the passing through of Vendéens who seized the city on 1st November 1793. Apart from the processing of agricultural commod-ities, Mayenne's only resource was cloth weaving, for which it was renouned. It is only in the middle of last century that major works were undertaken that gave the town its present appearance.
In 1830 the "new crossing" and its bridge (now the bridge Mac-Racken) was opened. The new hospital was opened in 1850, the Laval-Mayenne railway in 1866 and the Notre-Dame bridge in 1868. The canalization of the river began in 1852 and was completed in 1867. New streets were opened, the quays completed in 1874 and the Mayran barracks in 1876.
During the second World War, German troops entered the town on June 17th, 1940 and it was occupied without a fight. On the night of 8th and 9th June 1944, the town suffered a very violent aerial bombing which cost the lives of more than 450 people and destroyed several neighbour-hoods. On August 5th, 1944, the town was liberated by U.S. troops. When withdrawing the Germans blew up the Notre-Dame bridge and the viaduct. The last remaining bridge, which allowed the army of General Patton to pursue the Germans, was saved by the sacrifice of the soldier James D Mac-Racken who prevented its destruction.