A castle existed here in
1025 when it was seized by Fulk Nerra (d.1040). It then
remained with the counts of Anjou for a while until taken by the counts
of Blois. Count Geoffrey of Anjou (d.1151) retook the fortress in 1148
after a long siege when he followed the advice given in De Re Militari of
Vegetius Renatus. He also attacked three nearby stone castles
at the same time. On his success at Montreuil-Bellay
he pulled down the tower (keep) as well as the castle.
Despite this destruction Count Theobald of Blois (d.1152)
continued the war and called upon King Louis VII (d.1180) to aid him when he
returned from crusading. The castle later passed to the
Berlay family who gave it the suffix of its current name.
They were responsible for much of the fifteenth century work
on the site.
The castle commands the River Thouet and consists of apparently two
wards, although there is now no noticeable defenses between them.
The outer ward is polygonal and lay to the SE. This
has 5 remaining D shaped towers and contains the thirteenth century
church. To the NW is a rectangular ward with 3 surviving
D shaped towers and a twin towered gatehouse. To the north is a
chatelet of the fifteenth century which may overlie the site of the
original eleventh century keep. The gatehouse is further
protected by a D shaped barbican similar to
Ranrouet in Brittany, Lassay, Carcassonne as well as Goodrich
and the Tower of London in England. The fortress is now
converted into apartments.
Why not join me here and at other French
castles? Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly
Paul Martin Remfry