Ivry le Bataille

The castle originally consisted of a great rectangular keep, similar to those at Colchester and the Tower of London - these are both claimed to be late eleventh century.  Ivry is claimed to have been built by an engineer named Lanfred, under the direction of Count Raoul Ivry (d.1006/11).  Raoul seems to have married twice.  His first wife would appear to have been one Aubrey (Albereda).  According to Orderic Vitalis she had the citadel of Ivry (arcem de Ibreio) built and then had the architect beheaded, so that he couldn't build a better castle for any other warlord.  Afterwards she tried to expel her husband from the castle so he had her put to death.  Raoul then went on to marry a less belligerent wife, Eremburge Caville, who gave him at least two children.  Two of these, Bishop Hugh of Bayeux and Archbishop John of Rouen went on to defend Ivry castle against the dukes of Normandy on many occasions.  It was probably after the death of Archbishop John in 1079 that the castle passed back to its feudal overlord, William the Conqueror.  With his death in 1087 ‘the well-fortified castle, erected by his grandmother, Alberede' was granted by his successor, Robert Curthose, to William Breteuil, probably merely as an act of recognition of the fact that he had already seized it on the old king's death.  At the same time Curthose granted Brionne castle to the previous custodian, Roger Beaumont, by way of compensation.

In 1089 Ascelin Goel, a great grandson of Bishop Hugh of Bayeux, seized Ivry castle from William Breteuil (d.1103), the great grandson of Count Raoul, ‘by a skilful stratagem' and then traitorously surrendered it to Duke Robert Curthose, who rapidly resold it back to William for £1,000 of Dreux.  This led to William depriving Ascelin of all he held in the barony as well as the custody of the castle.  Consequently there was a war between Ascelin and William, culminating in William's capture at a pitched battle and his being forced to marry his daughter Isabel to Ascelin, giving her together with £1,000 Dreux, his arms and armour and of course Ivry castle.  With this Ascelin ‘enclosed his castle... with deep ditches and stout palisades, spending his existence there in continual rapine and bloodshed to the ruin of many'.  In the meantime Earl Robert of Meulan aggressively tackled Duke Robert for the return of the constableship of Ivry in such a manner as the was arrested.  In 1094 William Breteuil brought King Philip of France, Duke Robert of Normandy and Robert Belesme together against Ascelin Goel who was holed up in Breteuil castle.  After a valiant defence Ascelin admitted defeat and surrendered Ivry castle back to his son in law, William Breteuil, in making peace.

In 1118 Ascelin's son, Robert, joined in the rebellion against Henry I, but reverted to his cause when Henry gave him Ivry to guarantee his loyalty.  Meanwhile in 1119 Eustace Breteuil (d.1136), the son of William (d.1103), claimed the castle from Henry I, on the grounds that it belonged to his predecessors.  The king put him off with fine words and to secure the fidelity of Eustace asked his royal constable of the castle, Ralph Harenc, to hand his son over to Eustace as a hostage and receive in return for the good return of his son, the two daughters of Eustace, the king's own granddaughters.  Eustace, then egged on by Amaury Montfort (1070-1137) blinded the boy and sent him back to his father.  The father in a rage went to the king and demanded justice and the king handed over his granddaughters for Ralph to blind and cut off the tips of their noses.  Ralph informed Eustace and Juliana of what he had done and, loaded down with presents from the king to console him for his son's loss, he fortified Ivry.  In reply the lords of Breteuil prepared for war with Henry I, while being ‘overwhelmed with grief'.  The rebels were soon defeated.  The fate of Ralph Harenc and his son is unknown, but some 70 years later in 1203 another Ralph Harenc was lord of nearby Gauville-la-Campagne and his son Roger succeeded him.  Back in 1119, Eustace found himself bottled up in Pacy castle, from which name his descendants took their name.  The rest of his lands passed to Ralph Guader, his nephew.

Robert Goel died soon after these events, leaving Ivry to his younger brother, William Lovel Ivry, who soon married Matilda Beaumont, the daughter of the earl of Leicester in 1120.  In 1123 William, with his brothers in law, Waleran Meulan, Hugh Montfort and Hugh Chateauneuf and several others, rebelled against Henry I in favour of William Clito and Count Fulk of Anjou.  After suffering military defeat in 1123 William made his peace with King Henry and was confirmed in his possessions.

In 1177 the castle came into the hands of King Henry II (d.1189) on the death of its lord, Waleran Fitz William Lupellus.  It was then the scene of the treaty of Ivry where Henry II and Louis VII (d.1180) came to terms to end their period of warfare between 1173 and 1175.  With the fall of Normandy to Philip Augustus (d.1223) in 1204 this border castle became somewhat of an irrelevance.  It again gained relevance in the fifteenth century, when war between England and France once more took place in Normandy.  The castle was taken in 1418  by English forces and burned by the duke of Bedford in 1424.  It was again rebuilt and its fortifications finally demolished by Dunois, the bastard of Orleans in 1449.  It is possible that the castle may have been repaired again by Philibert de l'Orme in 1553.

The castle keep probably dates to the end of the tenth century.  During the fighting in the early twelfth century it sounds like the defences were still of earth and timber.  After this in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century the further defences were added in stone consisting of a concentric rectangular ward with a twin towered gatehouse and 2 towers.  There was an outer ward to the south.

Why not join me here and at other French castles?  Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly Sojourns.


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry

  • Index

  • Home