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
those at 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 Sojourns.


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry

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