Château de Falaise

Falaise, France

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 during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.

The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.

In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.

A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.

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Details

Founded: 1123
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jen Abreu (5 months ago)
Great experience for all ages. Use of tablets in each room made for a virtual experience of what the room originally looked like. Games room with staff in period costumes was fun for the children. Lots of circular stairs to the different levels made for an authentic experience. Highly recommended:)
Paul White (5 months ago)
William the Conqueror's castle is a great way to spend a couple of hours immersed in the history of the time that William would of spent there, you are provided with a Histopad device that when you place the screen over certain emblems as you walk around you are immediately transported back to how the room would of looked like in Williams time. the castle has had a lot of time and effort put in to make it an enjoyable experience for all ages.
andy ward (6 months ago)
The base of William the Conqueror the Duke of Normandy, so full of history. Massive site with viewing areas equipped with high tech binoculars so you can see what it was like in ancient times.
Dominik Webster (12 months ago)
Intresting to see the graffiti and fireplaces. Views at night are picturesque with crows flying around. 3D feature is amusing for kids.
Michael George (17 months ago)
Really well worth the 8,5€. Very interesting interactive tablet tour. Videos also have english subtitles. Decent amount of historic background without going over the top. I would caution if you have any mobility issues the stairs are rather steep and a bit narrow. And lastly, if you are a real purist, parts of it have been restored (beautifully and authentically)
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