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Meslay-du-Maine (Municipality, Mayenne, France)

Last modified: 2021-07-05 by ivan sache
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Flag of Meslay-du-Maine - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 14 April 2021

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Presentation of Meslay-du-Maine

The municipality of Meslay-du-Maine (2,842 inhabitants in 2018; 2,418 ha) is located 20 km south-east of Mayenne.

Meslay was first mentioned as a "city" in 1292; an Ordinance issued by the King's Lieutenant authorized fairs in the town in 1695. The church of Meslay, dedicated to St. Peter, had its choir been built in 1629, while the tower seems much older, a stone bearing the year "1118".
Meslay was originally built around the church and the castle, on the left bank of the Pont Saint Martin stream. It gradually spread along the old Royal road from Laval to Sablé. Part of the County of Laval, Meslay was defended by a fortified castle surrounded by a moat. Razed in 1129 on the order of Geoffroy Plantagenet as a retaliation against Guy of Laval, who had set up a coalition against his suzerain, the citadel was subsequently rebuilt.

Joan of Laval, Bertrand Du Guesclin's widow, lived in the castle of Meslay, where she married her third cousin, Guy XII of Laval, in 1384. She could prevent the English yp seized the castle in 1426; Captain d'Arondel completely razed the citadel in 1434. No longer protected by its fortress, Meslay was looted by English bands auxiliary to the Protestants in 1593.
Meslay-du-Maine experienced the heyday of cloth industry, in particular cheesecloth weaving. In 1762, 34 looms produced 245 pieces of cloth.
During the Revolution, the town was denounced for a long time "for its carelessness and lack of civism". On 20 October 1797, 1,500 Chouans attacked Republicans entrenched in the church and the chapel of the castle. The Royalists eventually mined and destroyed the castle.

More than 2,000 German and Austrianintellectuals, artists, businessmen, Jews, opponents to the Nazi regime, mostly men from the Paris region, were arrested in the beginning of the Second World War and interned in a camp set up in Meslay-du-Maine from until June 1940.

Olivier Touzeau, 14 April 2021

Flag of Meslay-du-Maine

The flag of Meslay-du-Maine (photo) is white with the municipal coat of arms, "Azure a lepoard or", wrapped in a scroll or inscribed with the name of the muncilaity.
The arms, adapted in the 19th century by the Municipal Council, are derived from those of the Laval family, "Gules a leopard or".
[Jean-Claude Molinier]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 5 July 2021