Chateaux of Normandy

Château de Caen

The Norman Château de Caen was built in c. 1060 by William the Conqueror, who successfully conquered England in 1066. His son Henry I then built the Saint Georges church, a keep (1123) and a large hall for the Duke Court. At Christmas 1182, a royal court celebration for Christmas in the aula of Caen Castle brought together Henry II and his sons, Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland, receiving more than a thousand ...
Founded: c. 1060 | Location: Caen, France

Château d'Eu

The Château d"Eu is a former royal residence built in the 16th century to replace an earlier one purposely demolished in 1475 to prevent its capture by the English. The chapel contains the tombs of Henry I, Duke of Guise, and his wife, Catherine de Clèves, who embarked on the construction of the château in 1578. The building was completed almost a century later by the Anne Marie Louise d"Orl&e ...
Founded: 1578 | Location: Eu, France

Château de Dieppe

Château de Dieppe was founded in 1188 and destroyed in 1195. The site was restored in the 14th century. The castle was largely reconstructed by Charles des Marets in 1433. The castle is composed of a quadrangular enclosure with round flanking towers and a lower court adjacent. The large west tower dates perhaps from the 14th century, and served as the keep. Several architectural styles are represented, and flint and sand ...
Founded: 1188 | Location: Dieppe, France

Château de Rouen

Château de Rouen was a castle built by Philip II of France from 1204 to 1210 following his capture of the duchy from John, duke of Normandy and king of England. Located outside the medieval town to its north, in a dominant position, it played a military role in the Hundred Years" War and the Wars of Religion. It was the main seat of power, administration and politics in the duchy of Normandy for nearly 400 year ...
Founded: 1204-1210 | Location: Rouen, France

Château Gaillard

Château Gaillard is a ruined medieval castle, located 90 m above the commune of Les Andelys overlooking the River Seine. The construction began in 1196 under the order of Richard the Lionheart, who was simultaneously King of England and feudal Duke of Normandy. The castle was expensive to build, but the majority of the work was done in an unusually short time. It took just two years, and at the same time the town of ...
Founded: 1196 | Location: Les Andelys, France

Château de Falaise

Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted ...
Founded: 1123 | Location: Falaise, France

Château de Fécamp

Château de Fécamp originates from the 10th century and the stone castle was built in the 11th century. It was the residence of the first dukes of Normandy. perhaps as early as William Longsword and probably with his successors Richard I and Richard II, who are buried to the near Fécamp Abbey. The castle was damaged in the 19th century during the construction work of raiway.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Fécamp, France

Château de Vascoeuil

Château de Vascoeuil is a beautiful 15th century castle with a museum and sculpture park in the gardens. A noble house built after the Hundred Years War, the château hosts the museum of Jules Michelet, dedicated to the famous French historian, in one of its outbuildings. Wander around the grounds of the estate, through the typically French gardens, to uncover the sculptures that have been placed amongst the beautiful tr ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Vascœuil, France

Château des Tourelles

The Château des Tourelles was built originally in 1196, when Philippe Auguste (Philip II of France), fighting against the king of England, Richard the Lionheart, for possession of Normandy, seized Vernon and made the town a military base. The castle consists of a square tower surounded by four round turrets, the whole edifice rising to a height of twenty metres. It is one of the few castles in France which has been pract ...
Founded: 1196 | Location: Vernon, France

Château d'Harcourt

Château d'Harcourt is a masterpiece of medieval architecture. The home of the Harcourt family, the castle is one of the best preserved castles in the country and contains the oldest arboretum in France. Although the lords of Harcourt trace their origins to the year 1000, the first written record of the castle dates from the second half of 12th century. Robert II d"Harcourt was a companion in the crusade of Richard Lionhe ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Harcourt, France

Tour des Archives

The Tour des Archives is the keep of a former castle. Its origin goes back to 1123, built by King Henry I of England, the son of William the Conqueror. It is 22m high and is a rare existing example of a round tower in Normandy, like the so-called tour Jeanne d"Arc (Joan of Arc Tower) of the former Rouen Castle. The Tour des Archives has been classified since 1840 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Cul ...
Founded: 1123 | Location: Vernon, France

Château du Neubourg

Château du Neubourg dates from the 12th century, when it was owned by Henry I, the King of England. The castle lost its military role in the 17th century. In 1782-1783 the eastern parts were demolished.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Le Neubourg, France

Château de Martainville

Château de Martainville was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. It houses a fantastic exhibit of everyday life items in Normandy, from 16th to 19th centuries. Furniture, chinaware, kitchen equipment, dairy implements are all displayed according to their geographic origin from the Pays de Bray, the Pays de Caux, and the coast. The top floor of the castle is devoted to Norman costumes.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Martainville-Épreville, France

Château de Saint-Germain-de-Livet

The famous chateau at Saint-Germain-de-Livet, now open to the public, was built by the Tournebu (later Tournebu-de-Livet) family between 1561 and 1578. Fine group of buildings are typical in the Pays d"Auge, reuniting a timber-framed manor from the second half of the 15th Century and a 16th century residence in glazed brick and stone, a corner tower, moat and lake. The interior is fully furnished. Today the chateau i ...
Founded: 1561-1578 | Location: Saint-Germain-de-Livet, France

Château de Canon

The history of Château de Canon originates from The Middle Ages, when it was owned by Franqueville (15th century), Sarcilly (16th century) and Bérenger families. In 1727 Robert Bérenger sold the castle to de la Rocque, who build a new castle, pond and garden. Today it is a 20ha estate, perfectly preserved from the 18th century. There is a French-English style park with period decorations like marble st ...
Founded: 1727 | Location: Mézidon-Canon, France

Château d'Acquigny

Acquigny sits at the confluence of two rivers: the Eure, formerly navigable to Chartres, and the Iton. The two rivers were dammed and redirected during the twelfth century by the monks of Conches-en-Ouche to power mills in the region. These newly created branches also fed into the castle"s moats protecting the Saint-mals monastery and the medieval village located directly behind the current castle. During the Hundre ...
Founded: 1557 | Location: Acquigny, France

Château de Gisors

The Château de Gisors was a key fortress of the Dukes of Normandy in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was intended to defend the Anglo-Norman Vexin territory from the pretensions of the King of France. King William II of England ordered Robert of Bellême to build the first castle at Gisors. The first building work is dated to about 1095, and consisted of a motte, which was enclosed in a spacious courtyard or ba ...
Founded: 1095 | Location: Gisors, France

Manoir de Vauville

The manor of Vauville was originally built as a fortress in 1163 by Richard de Vauville who participated in the Conquest of England with William the Conqueror. The current château was built in the 1650s. It has been in the same family since 1890. The garden was created in the moat in 1947 by the parents of the present owners, who had a particular interest in exotic plants. Since 1980 the garden has grown from two to ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Vauville, France

Château de Creully

Château de Creully has been modified throughout its history. Around 1050, it did not resemble a defensive fortress but a large agricultural domain. In about 1360, during the Hundred Years War, it was modified into a fortress. During this period, its architecture was demolished and reconstructed with each occupation by the English and the French: The square tower was built in the 14th century, a watchtower and drawbr ...
Founded: c. 1360 | Location: Creully, France

Château de Bricquebec

According the tradition the first castle in Bricquebec was built by Anslec with Scandinavian origin, who was related to the Duke of Normandy, William Longsword. Later Bricquebec Castle was owned by Robert I Bertran, who accompanied William the Conqueror in the conquest of England in 1066. His son, Robert II Bertran, is believed to have taken part in the taking of Jerusalem during the First Crusade in 1096. After the annex ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Bricquebec, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.