Château de Clisson

Clisson, France

Within then independent Brittany, Château de Clisson, situated at a crossroads for Anjou and Poitou, was one of the great fortified places on the frontiers of the Duchy of Brittany. The first Lords of Clisson occupied the site from the 11th century. They are mentioned for the first time in 1040. Clisson was then the seat of a powerful châtellenie covering 23 parishes.

Most of the present castle was built in the 13th century. Constructed by Guillaume de Clisson, on a rocky outcrop dominating the Sèvre Nantaise, its form at that time was an irregular polygon flanked by round towers and isolated from the rocky plateau by a shallow moat. In the 14th century, Olivier III de Clisson incorporated the gatehouse into a massive quadrilangular keep. The two semicircular towers of the gatehouse collapsed in the 17th century. The castle became the setting for the turbulent lives of Olivier IV de Clisson and Olivier V de Clisson, named Constable of France in succession to Du Guesclin in 1380.

In the 15th century, the fortifications were modernised to permit the use of artillery. In the second half of the century, the former entrance was modified and the curtain wall was extended and completed by a barbican. At the same time, the castle was enlarged to the west with a new rectangular enclosure nearly 100 m long, armed with towers with artillery casemates. After 1420, the castle became the property of the Duke of Brittany. It was one of the favourite residences of Duke Francis II who was remarried there, to Marguerite de Foix in 1474. He built a second rectangular enceinte flanked by artillery towers.

Around 1590, the troubled period of the French Wars of Religion necessitated the construction of three terraced bastions on the south. Thus, three lines of defence in depth protected the site. Until the 17th century, the castle was the residence of the Avaugour family, descendants of François Ier d'Avaugour, illegitimate son of François II. He modified and transformed the castle to suit the tastes and fashions of the day.

During the War in the Vendée (1793-1796), the town and its castle were burned by the Infernal columns of Jean-Baptiste Kléber. In 1807, the estate was bought by the sculptor François-Frédéric Lemot with the goal of conservation. During the 19th century, the ruined castle attracted Romantic painters and sculptors. In 1962, the castle was sold by the Lamot family to the Conseil général of the Loire-Atlantique, who carried out important restoration works with the assistance of the French Ministry of Culture.

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Details

Founded: 11th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Vitalina Kibirina (8 months ago)
Great place! Amazing food
Pascal Lenoir (2 years ago)
Nice ruin with a lot of history behind. A good guide, as it was our case, makes the difference.
Mike Dixon (2 years ago)
A wonderful place to explore around the area of the castle. Spectacular views,and a fun way to spend the afternoon.
Pascal Michaux (2 years ago)
Château was closed on the day we visited but you get a good view from the outside. Lovely location above the river. Nice restaurants on each side of the bridge where you can enjoy a lovely lunch with a view over the river and or castle. Nice half day trip from Nantes.
Scott Palmer (2 years ago)
Interesting ruined chateau to visit in a small town. Gives a good impression of it's former self. Friendly and welcoming staff. Good photo opportunities. Good way to spend a spare 40 mins to 1 hour.
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Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.