The fortress is claimed to have been built by Fulk le Rechin (d.1114), if not Fulk Nerra (d.1040).  This mirrors claims made for Loches, Montcontour and Montrichard.  Loudun and Mirebeau came to Fulk from his mother, Adelaide Vermandois, although one chronicle states that Fulk seized Mirebeau, Loudun and Chinon from Count Odo of Blois (d.1037) at the same time as he seized Saumur and Montsoreau (Monsorellum).  Regardless of this, in 1025, Fulk pledged homage to the duke of Aquitaine for Loudun, additionally being granted Saintes for this homage.  Traditionally the castle, along with Chinon and Mirebeau, formed the appendage of younger sons of the counts.  In 1151 these fortresses had been given to Geoffrey, the younger brother of King Henry II.  In 1156 Geoffrey rebelled and Henry besieged Chinon and Mirabau and had Loudun surrendered to him after his brother made terms.  Sometime between then and 1185 Henry was at the castle when he granted land to St Lazare of Fontrevaud.  In 1173 the same 3 castles caused a rift between Henry and his son the Young King Henry, when the elder Henry wished the 3 castles to go to Prince John.  Loudun remained loyal to the elder Henry in the subsequent war.  On 29 April 1199, Queen Eleanor was staying at the castle when she made an agreement with Ralph Maleone, granting him back his fortress of Talmont.  This was on her way back from the burial of her son, King Richard I, at Fontevraud on 21 April.  The fortress was finally dismantled in 1633 by Cardinal Richelieu.

In the Plantagenet era Loudun together with Angers, Beaufort en Vallee, Chinon, Saumur, Mirebeau and Bauge formed the main castles of the lordship.  Similarly the castles of Cande, Craon and Chateau Gontier protected the N&W frontiers.

Set within the ruins of the Roman town walls stands the irregular tower keep, roughly 28'x31' and 100' high.  Unusually the tower has 4 pilaster butresses on its N&S walls, but only 3 on its E&W.  It has walls 6' thick and internally a modern wooden staircase leads to the summit.  Similar pillaster buttressed keeps exist at La Roche-Posay, Le Grand-Pressigny and Moncontour.

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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