A charter of 989 mentions Lavardin castle, although the site is claimed only to have been founded in the eleventh century by the counts of Vendome by building a rectangular keep on a boss of rock in a valley near the Loir.  A priory of c.1040 lies in the outer bailey.  The castle was sold to the counts of Vendome in 1130 and repulsed Richard the Lionheart in 1188.  Eventually it was turned into a palace by Jean Ier de Bourbon-Vendome in the late fourteenth century.  On 11 March 1448 the English ambassadors of Maine met here with Charles VII (1403-61) and his mistress, Agnes Sorel (1422-50), to sign the treaty of Lavardin which brought a very temporary peace between England and France together with the final evacuation of Le Mans and the bulk of Maine.  Finally Lavardin was occupied by the Leaguers in 1589 before being dismantled in 1590 after a siege by Henry IV (d.1610). 

The site consists of an early keep set upon a rocky knoll.  This hall was 70'x40', 3 storeys high and decorated with pilaster buttresses.  Some Romanesque features survive on the ground floor, but the whole was refurbished in the 1380s and machicolations were added on top.  On the west side two round turrets, the northern one holding a spiral stair, were added with a large D shaped tower in between.  This tower penetrated the line of the old shell keep which surrounded the earlier keep.  A similar layout with a rectangular keep surrounded by a shell occurs at Montrichard.  There is a hornwork giving access to the shell keep from the NE.  This is heavily ruined, but has a fine stair tower centrally within it.  A polygonal tower late to the NE commanding the main ward.  This was concentric to the keeps and hornwork and had D shaped towers, 5 to the south, two forming a fine twin towered gatehouse of the form discussed at Caerphilly, and at least 2 to the NE.  This was surrounded by a chemise that had an entrance to the NE from the town, above another twin towered gatehouse in the town walls.

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

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