The l'île de Ré, opposite La Rochelle, was subjected on several occasions to attack from British soldiers. Conscious of the need to protect access to La Rochelle and Rochefort, in 1681 Vauban started strengthening the island's defences by building a citadel and fortified castle at Saint-Martin-de-Ré, on the North coast.
Built on the site of a fortress where construction work had started in 1627, the square-shaped citadel occupies the eastern part of the town. Its defensive system comprises four bastions, three demi-lunes and a counterguard, surrounded by a moat and a covered walkway. It contained an arsenal, food and powder stores, barracks and officers' accommodation. The citadel opens on to the sea via a small fortified port. From 1873 onwards it became a stop-off point for penal colony prisoners on the way to New Caledonia until 1897 and later to Guyana until 1938. Today it remains a prison for more than 400 detainees and is not open to the public.
An example of Vauban's first system adapted to suit a flat site, the construction was accompanied by an enormous fortified enclosure capable of accommodating the island's population of some 16,000 inhabitants, as well as their livestock, and of storing food supplies and forage in the event of enemy attack. In an arc on the land side, there are bastions, orilloned half- bastions and a counterguard. Two monumental gates, the Porte Toiras and the Porte des Campani form the access points. Also surrounded by a moat and a covered walkway, it is in addition encircled by an open-plan glacis, sloping outwards from the ramparts within canon-firing range.References:
Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre.
The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the Kings of Mann and the Isles. The original Castle Rushen consisted of a central square stone tower, or keep. The site was also fortified to guard the entrance to the Silver Burn. From its early beginnings, the castle was continually developed by successive rulers of Mann between the 13th and 16th century. The limestone walls dominated much of the surrounding landscape, serving as a point of dominance for the various rulers of the Isle of Man. By 1313, the original keep had been reinforced with towers to the west and south. In the 14th century, an east tower, gatehouses, and curtain wall were added.
After several more changes of hands the English and their supporters eventually prevailed. The English king Edward I Longshanks claimed that the island had belonged to the Kings of England for generations and he was merely reasserting their rightful claim to the Isle of Man.
The 18th century saw the castle in steady decay. By the end of the century it was converted into a prison. Even though the castle was in continuous use as a prison, the decline continued until the turn of the 20th century, when it was restored under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor, George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan. Following the restoration work, and the completion of the purpose-built Victoria Road Prison in 1891, the castle was transferred from the British Crown to the Isle of Man Government in 1929.
Today it is run as a museum by Manx National Heritage, depicting the history of the Kings and Lords of Mann. Most rooms are open to the public during the opening season (March to October), and all open rooms have signs telling their stories. The exhibitions include a working medieval kitchen where authentic period food is prepared on special occasions and re-enactments of various aspects of medieval life are held on a regular basis, with particular emphasis on educating the local children about their history. Archaeological finds made during excavations in the 1980s are displayed and used as learning tools for visitors.