Château de Suscinio

Sarzeau, France

The Château de Suscinio was built in the late Middle Ages as the residence of the Dukes of Brittany. The spectacular site comprises the moated castle, a ruined chapel, a dovecote, and a few ruined outbuildings.

Designed to be a place of leisure, between the seaside and a forest full of game for hunting, the castle's first logis seigneurial (seigniorial house) dates from the beginning of the 13th century. The castle was fortified and enlarged, at the end of 14th century, when the heirs of the duchy had to fight to keep their assets (Brittany was not yet fully united to France and did not become so until 1514), after the castle was taken by Bertrand du Guesclin, the infamous Constable of France. John V and John VI constructed a new seigniorial residence block with a large, new corner tower known as the Tour Neuve. A casemate was added at the end of 15th century to protect artillery pieces. From 1471 to 1483, the castle housed Jasper Tudor, Henry Tudor (later King Henry VII of England), and the core of their group of exiled Lancastrians, numbering about 500 by 1483.

The castle was then slowly abandoned by the aristocracy. In the early sixteenth century, the former great hall of the 14th century along the northern curtain-wall, was destroyed. The castle was then confiscated by the French crown under King Francis I who offered it to one of his mistresses. In 1795, Suscinio was temporarily occupied by the royalists coming from Quiberon and heading to the north of the department. Written off in the 17th and 18th centuries, the castle was used off-and-on as a stone quarry until the Revolution.

During the Revolution, it was sold to a merchant who continued to sell the stones, and it fell into even greater ruin.

The Département of Morbihan bought it in 1965, from the family of Jules de Francheville who attempted to preserve and restore the castle. The remains of a ducal chapel was found in the vicinity outside of the moats; its remarkable tiled floor has been carefully removed and restored and is now exhibited in a hall of the castle. Nowadays, Suscinio Castle has again regained its allure of an intact medieval fortress, but major restoration work continues.

The castle may be unique in Western Europe because of its restoration to its presumed late-15th century condition; because many other medieval fortresses made obsolete by the use of cannon in warfare were either dismantled or modernised to become 'comfortable country houses'.

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Founded: 14th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Cameron Trost (7 months ago)
The romantic ruins of a fascinating moated castle that played an important role in Breton history.
Ingrid Algra (7 months ago)
Very nice castle with good tour.
Wai Lee (8 months ago)
Lovely Castle. Easy to imagine life during the 1300s with how the tour is presented. English audio guide available.
Howard N Hughes (8 months ago)
Well worth a visit. We rode there on quiet cycle friendly roads. Plenty of parking for both cars & bikes, decent café with plenty of outside space. All in all a good half day out (including ride from to the campsite)
R Leonard (9 months ago)
Lovely coastal setting, not too crowded late in the day, so not too many Covid delays. Lots of hand gel ;-) Impressive tiled floors and interactive bits for kids.
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The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.

At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.

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In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.

In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.

The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.