Château de Josselin

Josselin, France

Château de Josselin was built in the 11th century and rebuilt at various times since. Guéthénoc, vicomte of Porhoët, Rohan and Guéméné, began to build the first castle on the site around the year 1008, choosing a rocky promontory overlooking the valley of the Oust. The site chosen for the castle was excellent from both the commercial and the military points of view, and since the 9th century there had also existed an annual pilgrimage in September to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Bramble (Notre-Dame du Roncier), which added greatly to the wealth of the lords and people of Josselin.

In 1154, Odo, Viscount of Porhoet, step-father, guardian and regent of the young Conan IV, Duke of Brittany, collected the Breton lords to deprive Conan of his inheritance, but was defeated by Henry II of England, who was also Duke of Anjou, whose protection Conan had sought. Henry married his fourth son, Geoffrey, to Conan's only child, Constance, Duchess of Brittany, and Henry and his son pulled Josselin Castle down in 1168 and 1175. Henry II himself led the demolition and sowed salt into the ruins.

During the Breton War of Succession (1341-1364), the garrison of Josselin fought inconclusively the defenders of the nearby Castle of Ploërmel. To break the impasse, the Battle of the Thirty was arranged, contested by thirty knights from each side, and took place on 26 March 1351 halfway between the two places. The men of Josselin defeated the champions of Ploërmel, who consisted of four Bretons, six Germans, and twenty Englishmen.

In 1370 the Breton soldier Olivier de Clisson (1336-1407), later Constable of France, acquired the lordship of Josselin and built an imposing new fortress with eight towers and a keep one hundred yards across. He married his daughter Beatrice to Alain VIII of Rohan, heir to the viscounts of Rohan, whose own castle was not far away. The castle now boasts an equestrian statue of Olivier de Clisson.

In 1488 Francis II, Duke of Brittany, took the castle and partially demolished it. His daughter, Anne of Brittany, restored it to Jean II of Rohan, a great-grandson of Olivier de Clisson, who transformed the property and built a noble new house with a fine granite facade, an early example of Renaissance architecture, importing Italian artists and artisans. In recognition of his patroness Anne, sovereign Duchess of Brittany and Queen Consort of France, Rohan added to the facade at several points the sculpted letter A beneath a cord, her badge.

Banned from Josselin due to their Protestantism, René II, Viscount of Rohan and the other Rohan men could not prevent the Duke of Mercœur, then Governor of Brittany, from turning their castle into a base for the Catholic League in its struggles against Henry IV of France.

In 1603, after being advanced by Henry IV to a dukedom, Henry, Duke of Rohan, one of the leaders of the insurgent Huguenots, transferred his military headquarters to his Castle of Pontivy. In 1629, Cardinal Richelieu dismantled the keep and four of the towers at Josselin. In the 18th century, the castle was no longer occupied as a seat of power, and during the years of the French Revolution and the First French Empire it became a prison and warehouse. In 1822, Caroline, Duchess of Berry, persuaded the then Duke of Rohan, Louis François de Rohan-Chabot, to restore it.

The Antechamber of the castle contains a marble bust of the 13th Duke, Alain Louis Auguste de Rohan-Chabot, sculpted in 1910 by Auguste Rodin. The Castle is still a residence of Josselin de Rohan, fourteenth Duke of Rohan.

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Details

Founded: 11th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

f109ged (2 years ago)
I only visited the gardens and grounds surrounding the castle, but they were lovely. I would like to explore the castle interior too!
Katie Elliot (3 years ago)
Very nice castle. We went on the French tour as out of season there are no English ones. We used the paper guide which was useful.
Gill Goshorn (3 years ago)
It was lovely to see, sadly there is only a leaflet in English. Tour is naturally given in French, but tape recorders in other languages would be better. Tour guide does speak English however and is happy to explain things. Chateau is a home, so only a few rooms open, but nevertheless worth a visit, as it Josselin town. Definitely worth the trip
Mark Redden (3 years ago)
The guide did try with her English and was very apologetic when she couldn't find the words. The tour itself was very informative and the grounds were lovely. My only criticism is only 1 floor is accessible because it's a private residence.
Kai Wright (3 years ago)
A really beautiful castle. I went with my family and we all really enjoyed the tour. Tours are offered in French, English and Spanish. We went on a tour at 2:30, and our tour guide was very knowledgeable and funny. You can only go around the castle with a tour and you are not allowed to take photos of the inside, as it is private property. The gardens that are open are quite pleasant, although small.
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