The municipality lies in Rhenish Hesse between Mainz (some 28 km away) and Alzey (some 14 km away). The highest mountain in the Palatinate, the Donnersberg, rises some 30 km away to the southsouthwest (as the crow flies). Vendersheim is surrounded by vineyards shaped like a horseshoe with the open end towards the south, and has more than 1,500 hours of sunshine each year. The soil around Vendersheim is very fertile, made up as it is of weathered loess, the so-called Lößlehm (decalcified loess).
Vendersheim photographed from the east
Moonset in May. In foreground at left the Catholic church, at right the Evangelical church, view towards the west
After the last ice age and the return of plant life began the permanent settlement of the Rhine valley by the Linear Pottery culture. In the Vendersheim area, there have been only a few finds to confirm any Bronze Age settlement. In Roman times there was a rural Roman settlement in the form of a Roman farmstead – a villa rustica – with cropraising, livestock raising and winegrowing.
In 406, the Franks crossed the Rhine frontier and settled the area between the Donnersberg and the Rhine. New placenames with the ending —heim (cognate with English home) were overwhelmingly the Franks’ favourite choice. King Clovis had himself christened in 498, and the Franks became Christian. In the time that followed, it is believed that Vendersheim also arose as a Frankish-Christian settlement. The placename Fendersheim first crops up only in a document in 1426 (Staatsarchiv Koblenz). It was drawn up by Father Pleban at Saint Martin’s Church (St. Martinuskirche) in Fendersheim. In 1443, the name was written as Venderßheim in Hessian documents. The name means “the fendiheri’s home”, fendiheri meaning a Frankish commander.