The commune of Maillé in the Touraine is burned into the minds of many as the place of the Second World War massacre. But, of course, the small town and its surrounding district has more history than that single tragic event. As with other towns and villages of the region war and persecution visited it on many other occasions as Roman armies, local counts and barons vied for power and territory and protestants faced harassment and exile.
Human settlement in the area can be traced back to the Paleolithic era with finds of flint tools some dating back 50,000 years to 100 000 and on the site of a local dolmen were found polished flint axes dating from the Neolithic period. Bronze bracelets of the Gallic period have also been discovered. Many sections of wall and an imposing aqueduct can also be seen in the area around Luynes, from that era along with the remains of Roman baths and residential villas.
The first Lords of Maillé appear in early eleventh century as part of the local power network of the Counts of Anjou, they then became vassals of the Counts of Blois.
The original château was destroyed at the end of the eleventh century in a war between Anjou and Touraine, it was then rebuilt in the early twelfth century.
In the early thirteenth century, after the conquest of Touraine by King Philip Augustus of France, the local lords took the title of Barons and their fortified castle was extended.
In the fifteenth century, the Barons of Maillé were in alliance with the kings of France who were then then living in Touraine. This led to the transformation of the area with the arrival of wealthy merchants who built the beautiful half-timbered houses that can still be seen in the town of Luynes. A main hall, a brick wing in the courtyard and a collegiate church dedicated to Our Lady were also constructed at this time.
In the sixteenth century, the title of Baron de Maillé passed by marriage into the hands of the family of Laval-Praise, a branch of the family of Montmorency. The castle and town were modified in the Renaissance fashion. In 1564, the Protestant church in Touraine moved to Maillé, where it remained until 1600. During the period of Wars of Religion, Maillé seems to have been a refuge area where many merchants, especially working the in the silk industry, found refuge. See earlier posts on the silk industry and the Wars of Religion in the Touraine..
By 1619 the County of Maillé was purchased by Charles d’Albert, a favourite in the court of Louis XIII. The king created a new name for his new duke and peer, “Luynes”. Between 1621-1690, the second Duke of Luynes carried out major construction works; the old keep of the castle was razed and two new wings were built, a courthouse was built on some of the halls, a large hospital and a convent of nuns was built near the castle, a college and schools for boys as well as for girls was reorganised. It is this château that is reproduced below in the painting by Louis Boudan.
The area’s lace-makers also received the King’s right to organise themselves into an incorporated business. The town itself was improved with many homes of stone or brick and stone and the population grew. The territory of the Duchy was extended during this period and the Duke of Luynes was also Count of Tours, Baron of Semblancay, Saint-Michel and Rochecorbon. At the end of the eighteenth century, its authority extended north of the Loire: Vernou in the east to the Chapelle-sur-Loire in the west as well as including part of the regional capital of Tours. However the decline of the silk working industry during the same century led to a rapidly decreasing population.
The revolutionary period not see large scale destruction in the area apart from the choir of Saint-Venant and the convent (except the church) of Notre Dame.
During the nineteenth century, the small town of Luynes was a rural agriculture, dominated by wine growing. Diseases which hit the growing of vines lead to the decline of local vineyards.
The website for the Luynes commune says the château was registered as a “Monument Historique” in 1926 – though it does not appear in the Monuments-Nationaux website.