Tenby Castle was a fortification standing on a headland separated by an isthmus from the town of Tenby. The castle, which was sited on a rocky promontory, was founded by the Normans during their invasion of West Wales in the 12th century. A stone tower was built on the headland's highest point which was protected by a curtain wall. The walls had a gateway and several small towers on the landward side. A lesser sea wall surrounded the remainder of the site and the beach area to the west.
In 1153, the castle was captured and destroyed by Welsh. The castle was besieged again by the Welsh in 1187. Almost a century later, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (prince of Gwynedd, and son of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn) sacked the town during his campaigns to retake South Wales in 1260 but the castle was not taken by the Welsh.
By the late 13th century, Tenby castle and the town had become part of the Marcher Lordship of Pembroke, which by then was ruled by William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke. The French knight, who was married to the Joan de Munchensi, the granddaughter and heir of the previous Earl of Pembroke, had provided military service to Henry III in the Second Barons' War. He instigated the building of stone walls around the town. By the start of the 14th century, the Tenby town walls were mostly completed so diminishing the defensive importance of Tenby Castle. In 1328, they were further strengthened when a D-shaped barbican was built to defend the town's main gate and additional D-shaped towers were later added to the northern and southern walls. By the 1400s, the line of Earls had died out, and Tenby castle was abandoned and in disrepair.
In 1457, King Henry VI gave the Marcher Lordship (and associated Earldom) to Jasper Tudor, his half-brother, who agreed to refurbish and improve Tenby's defences by dividing the cost between himself and the town's merchants. Improvements included widening the dry ditch along the outside of the town walls to 9.1 m. Raising the wall's height to include a second tier of higher arrow slits behind a new parapet walk and adding additional turret towers to the ends of the walls where they abutted the cliff edges.
In the mid 16th century, another large D-shaped tower (named the 'Five Arches') was built in the Elizabethan period following fears about a second Spanish Armada.
In 1648 during the Second English Civil War, a unit of Royalists under the command of Rice Powell held a refortified Tenby for 10 weeks until they were starved into surrendering by besieging Parliamentarians.
A few features of the medieval castle remain. A path from Tenby harbour to the top of Castle Hill passes through the main square gateway. On the summit of the promontory is a small tower. A circular walk which was laid out in the 19th century follows the line of the original curtain walls. Tenby Museum & Art Gallery is built on the remains of the castle's domestic building, probably the great hall.
Although the north gate has been demolished to widen the road, Tenby town walls on the north side are largely complete. The eastern walls and towers remain intact.References:
The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.
In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.
The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.
From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.
As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).
Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.
Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.