The Château d'Ussé stronghold at the edge of the Chinon forest overlooking the Indre Valley was first fortified in the 11th century by the Norman seigneur of Ussé, Gueldin de Saumur, who surrounded the fort with a palisade on a high terrace. The site passed to the Comte de Blois, who rebuilt in stone.
In the 15th century, the ruined castle of Ussé was purchased by Jean V de Bueil, a captain-general of Charles VII who became seigneur of Ussé in 1431 and began rebuilding it in the 1440s; his son Antoine de Bueil married in 1462 Jeanne de Valois, the natural daughter of Charles VII and Agnès Sorel, who brought as dowry 40000 golden écus. Antoine was heavily in debt and in 1455, sold the château to Jacques d’Espinay, son of a chamberlain to the Duke of Brittany and himself chamberlain to the king; Espinay built the chapel, completed by his son Charles in 1612, in which the Flamboyant Gothic style is mixed with new Renaissance motifs, and began the process of rebuilding the 15th-century château that resulted in the 16th-17th century aspect of the structure to be seen today.
In the seventeenth century Louis I de Valentinay, comptroller of the royal household, demolished the north range of buildings in order to open the interior court to the spectacular view over the parterre terrace, to a design ascribed to André Le Nôtre. Valentinay's son-in-law was the military engineer Vauban, who visited Ussé on numerous occasions. Later Ussé passed to the Rohan. In 1802 Ussé was purchased by the duc de Duras; as early as March 1813, low-key meetings were held at Ussé among a group of Bourbon loyalists, who met to sound out the possibilities of a Bourbon Restoration: such men as Trémouille, duc de Fitzjames, the prince de Polignac, Ferrand, Montmorency and the duc de Rochefoucault attended. Here later François-René de Chateaubriand worked on his Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe as the guest of duchesse Claire de Duras.
In 1885 the comtesse de la Rochejaquelein bequeathed Ussé to her great-nephew, the comte de Blacas. Today the château belongs to his descendent. Famed for its picturesque aspect, Ussé was the subject of a French railroad poster issued by the Chemin de Fer de Paris à Orléans in the 1920s and was one of several that inspired Walt Disney in the creation of many of the Disney Castles.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.