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8-08-2015, 16:04

Chinon

Two castles are associated with both the French and the English— Chinon and Angers. The castle of Chinon stands on a cliff rising above the Vienne River (Figure 16). A Gallo-Roman camp and then a fortress of the counts of Blois once stood on the site. Later the counts of Anjou acquired Chinon, and King Henry II of England (who was also Count of Anjou) built much of the fortress we see today. Henry died at Chinon in 1189, and his son and heir Richard the Lion Hearted also died at Chinon, after the Battle of Chalus. John Lackland, Henry’s youngest son, became king (1199–1216). John had abducted the fiancée of the count of La Marches, Isabelle d’Angouleme, and married her at Chinon. Outraged at his conduct, John’s French vassals rebelled, giving Philip Augustus an excuse to attack the English. The French took Chinon in 1205, and the treaty signed at Chinon in 1214 confirmed John’s losses. The castle of Chinon, like Chateau Gaillard, depended on defense in depth and the inaccessibility of its magnificent site. Again the castle con sisted of three parts separated by dry moats. Modern reenactors have constructed, and left, a medieval siege machine in the ditch (see Figure 14). The earliest section of the castle, the stronghold on the promontory commanding the river, dates to the tenth and eleventh centuries. It had six towers and later a huge round tower—the “Donjon of Coudray”—built by Philip Augustus. Used as a prison for the Templars when Philip IV suppressed them in the fourteenth century, the tower still stands. A deep ditch separates this early castle from the middle castle, the principal residential ward. On the south side looking out over the river valley was the royal residence. (Chinon gained fame as the meeting place of Charles VII, who lived there from 1427 to 1450, and Joan of Arc.) Protecting on the approach from the land side was the forecastle, which has been demolished. The plan of Chinon is typical of castles where the defense consists of a series of independent fortifications and assumes that as one part fell to attackers, the defenders could retreat to the next section, all the time hoping for relief from their allies. Chinon also shows the new disposition of domestic buildings—hall, kitchens, lodgings—along the outer walls resulting in a central courtyard.

 

 

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