Façade of Abbaye de la Trinité
Ruins of the castle at Vendôme
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 Bienheuré 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 House of Capet began, Vendôme formed the chief town of a county 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 VI, Count of Vendôme and Castres (died c. 1374), left as his heiress his sister Catherine, the wife of John of Bourbon, count of La Marche. The county of Vendôme was raised to the rank of a duchy and a peerage of France for Charles of Bourbon (1515); his son Antoine de Bourbon, king of Navarre, was the father of Henry IV, who gave the duchy of Vendôme in 1598 to his illegitimate son César de Bourbon (1594–1665). César, duke of Vendôme, took part in the disturbances which went on in France under the government of Cardinal Richelieu and of Cardinal Mazarin; he was the father of Louis, Duke of Vendôme, who married a niece of Mazarin, and François de Vendôme, Duc de Beaufort. The last of his family in the male line was Louis XIV's famous general, Louis Joseph, duc de Vendôme (1645–1712).
Nominoe, King of Brittany, died undefeated in Vendôme in 851, after conquering the counties of Maine and Anjou.
The comte de Rochambeau, leader of 6,000 French troops in the American Revolutionary War, was born in Vendôme.
Place Vendôme in Paris had been the site of the Hôtel de Vendôme, a mansion which belonged to César de Bourbon, the illegitimate son of Henry IV and his mistress Gabrielle d'Estrées.