The Château de Brissac is a noble mansion originally built as a castle by the Counts of Anjou in the 11th century. After the victory over the English by Philip II of France, he gave the property to Guillaume des Roches. In the 15th century, the structure was rebuilt by Pierre de Brézé, a wealthy chief minister to King Charles VII. During the reign (1515–47) of Francis I, the property was acquired by René de Cossé, who the king named as governor of Anjou and Maine.
During the French Wars of Religion, Château Brissac was made a possession in 1589 by the Protestant, Henry of Navarre. Severely damaged, the fortress was scheduled to be demolished. However, Charles II de Cossé sided with Henri of Navarre who soon was crowned King of France. In gratitude, King Henry gave him the property, the title Duc de Brissac and the money to rebuild the chateau in 1611. Its construction made it the highest château in France, its façade reflecting the influences of that century’s Baroque architecture. Through marriage, the Cossé-Brissac family also acquired the Château Montreuil-Bellay but later sold it.
In August 1620, Louis XIII and his mother, Marie de Medici, met to discuss their differences in the "neutral" territory of Château Brissac. A temporary truce between the two was reached but it did not last long and the Queen Mother was eventually banished.
The descendants of the Duc de Brissac maintained the château until 1792 when the property was ransacked during the Revolution. It lay in waste until a restoration program began in 1844 that was carried on during the 19th century by the Duke's descendants.
Today, the Château Brissac is still owned by a de Cossé family member. It has seven storeys altogether, making it the tallest chateau in the Loire Valley. The chateau is open to tours and its luxurious gilded theater hosts the annual Val de Loire festival. It was also used as a location for Brazilian celebrity magazine "Caras" until recently.References:
The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.
In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.
The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.