Vendôme is a commune of north-central France. It is 22 miles northwest of the city of Blois by rail, lies on the Loir River, which here divides into numerous arms intersecting the town. Population (1999): 17,707.
Vendôme is the capital of the arrondissement of Vendôme in the Loir-et-Cher département, of which it is a sous-préfecture. It has a tribunal of first instance.
On the south it is overlooked by an eminence on which stand ruins of the castle of the counts of Vendôme. The abbey-church of the Trinity has a fine facade in the florid Gothic style. The belfry, surmounted by a stone steeple, stands isolated in front of the church; it belongs to the middle of the 12th century, and is one of the finest examples of Transition architecture. Abbey buildings of various periods lie round the church. The church of La Madeleine (15th century) is surmounted by a stone spire, an indifferent imitation of that of the abbey. The fine tower of St. Martin (16th century) represents the vanished church of that name.
The town hall occupies the old gate of St. George; its river front is composed of two large crenelated and machicolated towers, connected by a pavilion. The ancient hospital of St Jacques afterwards became a college of the Oratorians, and now serves as a lycée for boys; the charming chapel, in the most florid Gothic style, is preserved. The town has a well-known archaeological and scientific society, and possesses a library with more than three hundred manuscripts, and a museum, mostly archaeological, in front of which stands a statue of the poet Pierre de Ronsard. There is also a statue of Marshal Rochambeau, born at Vendôme in 1725. Some interesting houses of the 15th and 16th centuries survive.
Vendôme (in Latin: Vindocinum) appears originally to have been a Gallic oppidum, replaced later by a feudal castle, around which the modern town arose. Christianity was introduced by Saint Bienheure in the 5th century, and the important abbey of the Trinity (which claimed to possess a tear shed by Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus) was founded about 1030. When the reign of the Capetian dynasty began, Vendôme formed the chief town of a countship belonging to Bouchard, called "the Venerable", who died in the monastery of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés in 1007.
The succession passed by various marriages to the houses of Nevers, Preuilly and Montoire. Bouchard VII, count of Vendôme and Castres (died circa 1374), left as his heiress his sister Catherine, the wife of John of Bourbon, count of la Marche. The countship of Vendôme was raised to the rank of a duchy and a peerage of France for Charles of Bourbon (1515); his son Anthony of Bourbon, king of Navarre, was the father of Henry IV, who gave the duchy of Vendôme in 1598 to his illegitimate son Caesar (1594 - 1665). Caesar, duke of Vendôme, took part in the disturbances which went on in France under the government of Cardinal Richelieu and of Cardinal Mazarin, and had as his sons Louis, duke of Vendôme (1612-1669), who married a niece of Mazarin, and Francis, duke of Beaufort. The last of his family in the male line was Louis XIV's famous general, Louis Joseph, duc de Vendôme (1645-1712).
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.