In the ninth century, Viking ships with terrifying figures of gaping monsters on the prows sailed up the grand rivers and ravaged the valleys. Angers, Tours and Orleans were annihilated. Lavardin did not escape the devastation and pillage.
The first definitive account of Lavardin in recorded history was in 1030 when Foulques l’Oison, Count of Vendome, entered into war against Geoffroy Martel, Count of Anjou. In order to protect the western frontier of his domain, he built a fortress in wood at Lavardin and put it under the command of the Solomon, a local forester. However, he was defeated in battle at Huisseau and was forced to retreat to the court of the King of France. Meanwhile, Geoffry Martel seized the domain of Vendome but left Solomon in charge of Lavardin in exchange for his pledge of loyalty.Records show that the church already existed in this period. Saint-Genest.
When Soloman died in 1064, Lavardin was called LAVARZIN. Soloman’s successors built the first stone keep of the chateau but it was square as was the custom in Anjou. It was also in this century that Lavardin which was protected by moats and the river became a walled city with large iron doors at the gates of the village. One of the streets of Lavardin still carries the name of “la Barrière”. Serfs and villagers lived behind the walls at the foot of the hill or in caves on cliff face..
« Le château de Lavardin »)
In the eleventh century, Villavard was a commune of Lavardin and the Lord of Montoire coveted its rich plain. During one battle for this plain, the Lord of Lavardin was captured. As he was led off on his horse, the reins came out to the horse's mouth and he spurred it to escape. His horse bolted towards the river where he faced certain death by drowning in full armor. He prayed to the black virgin of Chartres for his salvation. The horse suddenly turned at the bank and he was saved not only from drowning but also from capture.
He was so moved by this experience that he made a vow to visit the virgin's shrine in Chartres. When he returned from Chartres, he built a church near the battlefield and placed in it a copy of the black virgin. It was damaged during the revolution but it still in the church in Villard. There is a pilgrimage every October from Lavardin to the church in Villavard to venerate the Black Virgin of Villavard and remember the miracle.
In 1143, Bouchard IV, the son of Jean of Vendôme, became Lord of Lavardin. He added a large tower to the keep that exists today. When he became Count of Lavardin in 1180, he had to swear allegiance to the King of France even though he was a vassal of the King of England. This change of allegiance resulted in the siege of Lavardin by Richard the Lion Hearted and by his father, King Henry II Plantagenêt. Both these sieges failed because of the formidable defenses of Lavardin but also because of an alliance with Montoire. Lavardin became the strongest part of the Vendôme domain.