MAYENNE, a department of north-western France, thre fourths of which formerly belonged to Lower Maine and th remainder to Anjou, bounded on the N. by Manche and Orn E. by Sarthe, S. by Maine-et-Loire and W. by Ille-et-Vilain Area, 2012 sq. m. Pop. (1906), 305,457. Its ancient geologic formations connect it with Brittany. The surface is agreeab undulating; forests are numerous, and the beauty of the cult: vated portions is enhanced by the hedgerows and lines of tre by which the farms are divided. The highest point of th department, and indeed of the whole north-west of France, is the Mont des Avaloirs (1368 ft.). Hydrographically Mayenne belongs to the basins of the Loire, the Vilaine and the Selune, the first mentioned draining by far the larger part of the entire area. The principal stream is the Mayenne, which passes successively from north to south through Mayenne, Laval and Chateau-Gontier; by means of weirs and sluices it is navigable below Mayenne, but traffic is inconsiderable. The chief affluents are the Jouanne on the left, and on the right the Colmont, the Ernee and the Oudon. A small area in the east of the department drains by the Erve into the Sarthe; the Vilaine rises in the west, and in the north-west two small rivers flow into the Selune. The climate of Mayenne is generally healthy except in the neighbourhood of the numerous marshes. The temperature is lower and the moisture of the atmosphere greater than in the neighbouring departments; the rainfall (about 32 in. annually) is above the average for France.
Agriculture and stock-raising are prosperous. A large number of horned cattle are reared, and in no other French department are 1 The estates of the League in 1593 were the occasion of the famous Satire Menippee, circulated in MS. in that year, but only printed at Tours in 1594. It was the work of a circle of men of letters who belonged to the politiques or party of the centre and ridiculed the League. The authors were Pierre Le Roy, Jean Passerat, Florent Chrestien, Nicolas Rapin and Pierre Pithou. It opened with " La vertu du catholicon," in which a Spanish quack (the cardinal of Plaisance) vaunts the virtues of his drug " catholicon compose 1 ," manufactured in the Escurial, while a Lorrainer rival (the cardinal of Pelleve) tries to sell a rival cure. A mock account of the estates, with harangues delivered by Mayenne and the other chiefs of the League, followed. Mayenne's discourse is said to have been written by the jurist Pithou.
> many horses found within the same area ; the breed, that of Craon, i famed for its strength. Craon has also given its name to the most rized breed of pigs in western France. Ma.yenne produces excellent butter and poultry and a large quantity of honey. The cultivation ' the vine is very limited, and the most common beverage is cider, "heat, oats, barley and buckwheat, in the order named, are the ost important crops, and a large quantity of flax and hemp is oduced. Game is abundant. The timber grown is chiefly beech, oak, birch, elm and chestnut. The department produces antimony, auriferous quartz and coal. Marble, slate and other stone are quarried. There are several chalybeate springs. The industries include flour-milling, brick and tile making, brewing, cotton and wool spinning, and the production of various textile fabrics ( especially ticking) for which Laval and Ch4teau-Gontier are the centres, agricultural implement making, wood and marble sawing, tanning and dyeing. 1 he exports include agricultural produce, live-stock, stone and textiles; the chief imports are coal, brandy, wine, furniture and clothing. The department is served by the Western railway. It forms part of the circumscriptions of the IV. army corps, the acaddmie (educational division) of Rennes, and the court of appeal of Angers. It comprises three arrondissements (Laval, Ch SteauGontier and Mayenne), with 27 cantons and 276 communes. Laval, the capital, is the seat of a bishopric of the province of Tours. The other principal towns are Ch&teau-Gontier and Mayenne, which are treated under separate headings. The following places are also of interest: Evron, which has a church of the 12th and 13th centuries; Jublains, with a Roman fort and other Roman remains; Lassay, with a fine chateau of the 14th and 16th centuries; and Ste Suzanne, which has remains of medieval ramparts and a fortress with a keep of the Romanesque period.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)