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'.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.