Around 1260 knight Gerard Splinter van Ruwiel laid the first foundations for the Nyenrode castle. The location of the castle was well-chosen: a strategic spot on the narrowest part of the bank of the river Vecht. The river Vecht was part of the trade route from the town of Utrecht to the Zuiderzee (Dutch South Sea) and was situated in an area which was heavily disputed by the Bishops of Utrecht and the Counts of Holland.
The Lords Nyenrode dedicated their castle to the Count of Holland. The Castle was destroyed in 1481 and in 1511. In 1539 the Barons Van den Bongard inherited the Domain of Nyenrode. Bernard van den Bongard III turned the castle into a castle-manor between 1632 and 1642. He also modernized the appearance of the building. The castle thus was given the typical characteristics of a knightly mansion in the Dutch Renaissance style, namely a house with a castle-like form and a drawbridge.
In 1672, the French had their headquarters at Nyenrode. As the troops of Stadtholder William III, Prince of Orange and later also King of England, advanced, the French set fire to the castle on 6 September 1673. Johan Ortt, who bought the Castle in 1675, repaired the damage caused by the fire. From 1675 to 1853 Nyenrode was owned by the Ortt family. They were merchants (cloth manufacturers and corn merchants) in Amsterdam. The family bought Nyenrode together with the Domain Breukelen for 40,000 Dutch Guilders.
From 1853, two generations of the industrial family De Heus were the owners of the Castle. From 1907 to 1934 Michiel Onnes (a German coffee-merchant) lived at Nyenrode. He restored the castle and the surrounding park to its former glory of the period of Van den Bongard. Between 1916 and 1918 the gatehouse was built and the coach house reconstructed. The keep was completely rebuilt on its old foundation as well and raised one storey. Subsequently, the art-dealer Jacques Goudstikker owned the estate. He died in an accident in May 1940, while fleeing for the German occupants.
After World War II, Ms Désirée Goudstikker, who then owned the entire property, let Nyenrode to the Foundation Nederlands Opleidings-Instituut voor het Buitenland (Dutch Foreign Service Training Institute) in 1946. Soon afterwards, she sold it to the Foundation Nyenrode. The Nederlands Opleidings-Instituut voor het Buitenland (N.O.I.B.) later became Nyenrode Business Universiteit.References:
The Château de Fougères is an impressive castle with curtain wall and 13 towers. It had three different enclosures, first for defensive purposes, second for day to day usages in peacetime and for safety of the surrounding populations in times of siege, the last enclosure was where the keep was situated.
The first wooden fort was built by the House of Amboise in the 11th century. It was destroyed in 1166 after it was besieged and taken by King Henry II of England. It was immediately rebuilt by Raoul II Baron de Fougères. Fougères was not involved in the Hundred Years' War until 1449 when the castle was taken by surprise by an English mercenary. In 1488 the French troops won the castle back after a siege and the castle lost its military role.
In the late 18th century the castle was turned into a prison. The owner in this period was the Baron Pommereul. In the 19th century the outer ward became an immense landscaped garden. A museum was established in the Mélusine Tower. During the Industrial Revolution, a shoe factory set up shop in the castle grounds.
The City of Fougères took ownership of the Château in 1892. It had been a listed Historical Monument since 1862. A major campaign was launched to clean up the castle walls. While the castle had retained many of its original features, some of the curtain walls needed to be cleared and certain sections required major repairs. The changes made in the 18th century were "reversed," and the castle was finally open to visitors. The first campaign of archaeological excavations, conducted in 1925, unearthed the ruins of the manor house.
Since then, the Château de Fougères has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors every year. The castle's excellent state of conservation, and the historical interest of its architecture, make Fougères an invaluable window onto the Middle Ages. From great lords to simple builders, generations of inhabitants have left their mark on these walls.