Male Castle was almost entirely rebuilt and restored after the destruction of World War II. It has housed St. Trudo's Abbey since 1954.
The castle's origins date back to the 9th century, as a defensive tower for protection of the territory around Bruges against the Vikings. Male was held by Philip of Alsace, Count of Flanders, between 1168 and 1191, who replaced the wooden structure with one built of stone, which included a chapel consecrated by the exiled archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, in 1166.
The castle was a residence of the Counts of Flanders (in 1329 it was the birthplace of Count Louis II, sometimes known as Louis of Male) but was also a stronghold in a much-disputed terrain. French forces occupied it. The city of Bruges retook it from its French garrison in the uprising of 1302. Soldiers from Ghent razed it in 1382 and after it had been rebuilt, ransacked it again in 1453. In 1473 it was burnt out and once again rebuilt: the present keep dates from that rebuilding, and stands with its foundations directly in the moat, now flanked by symmetrical wings. The castle was plundered yet again in 1490 by the forces of the Count of Nassau.
When Flanders became a part of the Burgundian Netherlands Male retained its importance. During the Spanish occupation of the Low Countries, the citadel was sold in 1558 by Philip II to Juan Lopez Gallo.
It was occupied by German troops in both world wars, and was severely damaged. The castle was comprehensively restored after World War II and since 1954 has accommodated St. Trudo's Abbey, a house of the Canonesses Regular of the Holy Sepulchre.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.