Known as Castelasc in Lombard local language, the Castle of Cuasso is one of the most important defensive buildings in the province of Varese and Insubria. Founded in medieval times, it stands upon a hill which gives name to the whole city of Cuasso al Monte. Nowadays only ruins remain of the ancient structure.
Due to the lack of written sources, the history of the castle is still, in some respects, mysterious. The few studies and on-site digs have found out that it was built close to an ancient road that connected Milan to the alpine passages of San Bernardino Pass and Gotthard Pass. Its building on top of a gorge made the fortress impossible to seize. Its closeness to the river Cavallizza, which flows through an area rich in silver, lead and gold, could also suggest that it played a preeminent role in controlling the managing of the mineral wealth of the region.
The castle was built in many different stages. The most ancient tower, which dates back to Roman times, was enlarged during the Lombard age. Some believe that it was built by a Saxon workforce. Paul the Deacon, in his book Historia Langobardorum, records about 20,000 Saxons, who followed king Alboin in spring 568. The Saxons descended from the same ancestors, as both people had lived in Roman Germany during the first century A.D, in the area around the river Elbe. In 734 a part of 20,000 Arimannia left Italy, as they strongly disagreed with the Lombards' power. So, the Castle was surely a military defense of the road that connected Como and the Gotthard: in fact, before the bridge of Melide was built, the main road ran through it.
Later it was part of the Seprio's County, and it was permanently abandoned in the 13th century. Until the mid 16th century the castle of Cuasso housed the local parish; then, during the following centuries, it was used as a cemetery. Finally, the castle was brought back to its function of observation tower when the Cadorna Line was built.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.