AGENAIS Or, Agenois.
Pays in southwestern France. It includes the lower course of the River Lot, a tributary of the Garonne, and near the town of Agen, in the south, it extends southwards across the Garonne.
The Agenais was normally a part of Aquitaine, its Counts owing allegiance to the Dukes, but was subject to Gascony, 936-1032. After the extinction of the Dukes of Gascony, it belonged to Toulouse until 1044, when the Duke of Aquitaine re-established his rights. In 1196 part of the Agenais returned to Toulouse as dowry, when the Count married Joan, the sister of Richard the Lionheart. In 1259, the Kings of England and France agreed that, if alphonse, Louis IX’s brother and the husband of Joan’s granddaughter, died childless, the Agenais would return to Aquitaine. He did die without child in 1271, but the French lawyers managed to delay its return until 1279.
With its return, the eastern flank of the English King’s Duchy was better protected. Twice the Agenais was confiscated by the French King (1296, 1325) and twice returned (1303, 1360). In 1360 the French only grudgingly withdrew after the Treaty of Bretigny had granted the Agenais to English Aquitaine. With the renewal of war it was seized from the English King in 1369 and 1370, though it remained in the war zone for many years.
It was part of the appanage given to Louis XI’s brother Charles as Duke of Guienne (1469-72) and was later granted to Eleanor of Austria, second wife of Francis I. It passed to her daughter, Marie of Portugal, who died unmarried in 1577, and later still to la Reine Margot, the sister of three Kings and eventually the divorced wife of a fourth (Henry IV).
In the Ancien Régime Agenais belonged to the gouvernement of Guienne & Gascony and to the généralité of Bordeaux. In 1790, it formed the greater part of the Department of Lot-et-Garonne, of which Agen, the seat of a Bishop since the Roman era, is the capital.