Essential Architecture-  Loire Valley Châteaux

Château de Langeais




Loire Valley, north-western France.




one of the best known examples of late medieval architecture




  Entrance front with drawbridge
  The Château
  The 10th century fortified hall
  Ruins of the donjon are a garden feature
The Château de Langeais, Indre-et-Loire, France was originally built as a fortress in the 10th century by Foulques Nerra of Anjou on a promontory created by the small valley of the Roumer River at the opening to the Val de Loire. The tall fortified hall at the rear of the enclosure is thought to be the earliest datable stone examples of a keep in Europe.

Under the Plantagenet kings, the chateau was fortified and expanded by Richard I of England (King Richard the Lionhearted). However, King Philippe II of France recaptured the château in 1206. Eventually though, during the Hundred Years' War, the English destroyed it.

King Louis XI (1461-1483) would rebuild it into what today is one of the best known examples of late medieval architecture. It is especially noted for its monumental and highly decorated chimneypieces.

After nearly being totally destroyed during the Hundred Years' War, the chateau was rebuilt about 1465 during the reign of King Louis XI. Located on a cliff overlooking the Loire River, the Château appears dark and ominous, but the interior rooms are richly decorated.

The great hall of the château was the scene of the marriage of Anne of Brittany to King Charles VIII on December 6, 1491 that made the permanent union of Brittany and France. However, the fifteen-year-old Duchesse Anne, not happy with the politically arranged marriage, arrived for her wedding with her entourage carrying two beds.

In 1886, Jacques Siegfried bought Château Langeais and began a restoration program. He installed an outstanding collection of tapestries and furnishings and bequeathed the château to the Institut de France who still own it today. The château is open to the public.

Mesqui, Jean (1997). Chateaux-forts et fortifications en France. Paris: Flammarion, 493 pp. ISBN 2080122711.

It is listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.