Visit Chateau Moncontour
- Date of construction: 11th - 14th centuries
- Location: Vienne, Poitou-Charentes
The structure of the donjon is the result of four phases of work between the 11th and 14th century. The original structure of the tower took place under the direction of the duke d’Anjou, Foulque III, in the 11th century and was built of limestone. It was built on the top of a hill surrounded by impassable marshes which provided a view of some ‘…seven leagues…. Later concerns were raised over the deflection of the exterior angle of construction.
By the 12th century the English donjon was seized and changed by succeeding lords. A likely demolition to the upper part resulted in it taking on more of a residential appearance. Stairs were put in to connect the floors, chimneys installed and new windows for the archers. Finally in the 14th century, during the Hundred Years War, the tower was strengthened to provide greater defence. Now the donjon supports a solid roof upon which you can take a walk to gain a view of the stunning local countryside.
The donjon or keep is dazzling, but unfortunately it is the only remnant of a magnificent architectural feat. The other architectural constructions of the old fortified site have all seen better days. The keep raised on the hill is protected by an enclosure of high walls is accessed by a vaulted entrance. Close by there is the ruins of the ancient church of Notre Dame which was included within the chateau walls. A promenade in front of the castle provides stunning views of the surrounding countryside and takes one back to a time gone by.
The donjon went on to see many battles. In 1201 and again in 1206 it elonged to John Lackland, later to be King of England. In the late 13th century the donjon saw war during the Hundred Years War between England and France. Duguesclin swore in 1372 that ‘I will never sleep in a bed before I have taken Moncontour and hanged the Englishman who insulted me… and made eternal the famous dungeon of Moncontour.
In 1569 the donjon was again witness to combat - this time between the Catholics and the Protestants.
In the middle of the sixteenth century, Protestants and Catholics were engaged in unprecedented violence leading to murder conspiracy, heinous killings, looting, lynching, burnings and a massacre on the plateau of Moncontour. With Admiral de Coligny, leader of the Huguenots and the Duke of Anjou, Head of Catholics the dungeon wass powerless to stop one of the bloodiest battles in the history of France (See Moncontour for more details etc).
This article was kindly provided by Angela Weston who runs a small chambre d'hote in Moncontour - visit Le Grand Saule for details