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Visit Chateau de Langeais
The current Chateau de Langeais was built under the Kingdom of Louis XI, who commissioned Jean Brullé, his finance minister, with the building of the castle.
The impressive work was completed in just a few years, creating a building that is stylistically unified. The visit to the castle is of great interest because it retains its 15th and 16th century tapestries and furniture. Both the interior and exterior are constructed of materials (stone and chestnut wood) that have well withstood the ravages of time.
Explore the Chateau de Langeais
The view of the castle from the outside gives the impression of great grandeur, which is partly softened (especially if you look at the structure from the park) with Renaissance motives and various decorations. The façade facing the Loire has a straight walkway, interrupted only by the towers around it. The entry consists of a drawbridge between two circular towers.
Inside the castle there are various decorated rooms to explore including a dining room, salons and various bedrooms. Wooden panels, massive fireplaces, carved furniture and particularly a very extensive and impressive collection of 15th and 16th century Flemish tapestries decorate the rooms. Tapestries were a common decoration in noble houses for their aesthetic value but also because they insulated the rooms from the cold stone of the walls.
The Chateau de Langeais was the site of the marriage between the Duchess Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII, son of King Louis XI of France. The wedding brought about the union of Brittany with France and so was important to the France that we know today.
One of the rooms in the castle is the living Room of Anne of Brittany and is spacious and decorated tastefully.
Outside in the grounds are some lovely medieval gardens and the remains of the older castle which dates back to 994 and was built by the Comte d'Anjou. The walls you can see are what remains of the keep of the ancient castle of Fulk the Black. According to scholars this is the most ancient tower built on the ancient Roman ‘castrum’. It has a rectangular shape with the walls having a thickness of nearly 2 meters.From the gardens there are lovely views over the castle and the town of Langeais and the river Loire.
Also in the grounds are examples of medieval scaffolding and also a treehouse and a belvedere over the river Loire.
History of the Chateau de Langeais
Langeais has a Gallo-Roman origin, and the Romans made it a ‘castrum’ (fortified place), with the names of ‘Alegavensis Vicus’, ‘Langestum Vicus Albigensis’ ‘Langesium’ and also ‘Alingavia’.
According to ancient tradition, Langeais was evangelized by St. Martin, who built a church here dedicated to St. John. We have scant information about Langeais during the Early Middle Ages, so one can only say, but this is purely hypothetical, that it probably belonged to some feudal lord. Langeais begins to emerge from the darkness of the early-medieval period from the tenth century.
At the end of this century, Fulk the Black (972-1040) became Count of Anjou, and he built a castle, of which we still see a part of the so-called ‘Donjon’ (Tower). Fulk the Black built an impressive fortress to oppose Eudes I (950-995), the Duke of Touraine. Eude I besieged the castle and captured it, together with the city, in 994. According to some data, the castle of Fulk had a tower that was more than 15 meters in height and nine meters wide, with walls about two feet thick. However, little is left of this important structure.
In the twelfth century the castle was ruled by the successors to Fulk. Fulk V (992-1143), called ‘the Younger’, after returning from the Crusades, built the Basilica of the Saviour in 1118. The son of Fulk the Younger married Matilda (1102-1167), daughter of Henry I of England (1069 ca.-1135), who had two sons, Geoffrey Plantagenet (1135-1151) and Henry (1133-1189); the latter became King of England and was the father of Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199), who was at the same time both King of England and Lord of Langeais.
Later, according to some sources, Langeais and its castle belonged to Duke Arthur of Brittany (1187-1203), who donated them to Francis of Vitré, his ally against Richard the Lion Heart. Francis of Vitré then transferred them to Philip II Augustus (1165-1223).
As for the castle that we see today, the medieval sources have created much confusion. According to one interpretation of the facts, in 1270, Alfonso of France (1220-1271), brother of St. Louis (1214-1270), sold this lordship to Pierre de Brosse (1230-1278), who rebuilt the castle in a place close to that of Fulk. In fact, it seems more likely to have been Jean Bourré (1424-1506), minister of Louis XI (1423-1483) and governor of Langeais, who rebuilt the castle between 1465 and 1469. The archaeological data, in fact, do not allow us to date the castle in 1270, although it is possible that Pierre de Brosse had just ‘started’ to build a castle, which was interrupted by his death (1278).
So, two ancient castles were built at Langeais, one by Fulk the Black and the other, which still stands, built in the fifteenth century. In 1466 Charles VII (1403-1461) gave the castle to Francis of Orleans, Earl of Dunois (1403-1468). Among the most important events at the castle took place in 1491 in the castle chapel - the wedding was celebrated between Charles VIII (1470-1498), King of France and Anne of Brittany (1477-1514), daughter of the Duke of Brittany Francis II (1433-1488).
In the sixteenth century the castle belonged to Jean Bernardin de Saint Severin (1547), Duke of ‘Somma’ and then it was donated by Louis XIII (1601-1643) to Louise-Marguerite of Lorraine (1615-1672) in 1631.
The Grand Duchess quickly sold it to Marshal Antoine of Effiat, Baron of Cinq-Mars (1620-1642). Baron d'Effiat sold the castle and the town to the Duke of Luynes (1578-1621), and later they were owned by M. Baron, a lawyer who bought them in 1833. M Baron began several restoration works, which were then continued by Jacques Siegfried (1840-1909), the last owner of the castle, who wanted the restoration to perpetuate the memory of the main event of which the castle - namely the marriage of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany (1491).
(Painting of Chateau de Langeais by J Schubnel.)
Places to Visit Nearby
Chinon is one of our favourtie towns in the Loire Valley and makes for an excellent base for visiting the castles.