Chinon (French Château de Chinon) – is one of the royal castles of the Loire, located in Chinon, located near the Vienne River, Indre-et-Loire department (French Indre-et-Loire) see “Castles of the Loire on the map”. It was built on the site of former Roman fortifications and consists of three parts, built according to historical need.
Royal Castle of Chinon, a brief history
In 954, the main building of the castle was built on a mountain spur by the Count of Blois Thibaut I (“Swindler” or “Rogue”).
In 1044, the stone fortress, which had already replaced the wooden buildings, passed into the possession of his opponent Geoffrey Martel, Duke of Anjou. The duke united the walls of two defensive structures (the Middle Castle and the Coudray Castle), completed the towers and the chapel of St. Melania.
Henry II Plantagenet, King of England and descendant of the Dukes of Anjou, built the eastern part of the castle. This part was called the fortress of St. George, in honor of the patron saint of England. Work on the construction of the eastern fortress, the chapel, the mill tower and other defensive towers was carried out by Henry II and his descendants until 1205.
In 1205, Chinon Castle, after a months-long siege, passed into the hands of King Philip Augustus of France. After the capture of the castle, work began on the construction of the Watch and Dog Towers, new walls and canals. The construction of the castle continued until the 15th century, when the royal chambers with a large throne room were built.
In 1308, many Templars were imprisoned in Chinon Castle when the order fell out of favor.
Crown Prince Charles, expelled from Paris by the Burgundians, established his residence in Chinon.
In 1429, when Henry V of England claimed the throne, Charles met Joan of Arc at Chinon. Encouraged by Joan’s words, Charles decided to rise again against his opponents and was eventually crowned under the name of Charles VII. Chinon Castle became a royal residence. Soon, Queen Mary of Anjou and the favorite of the king Agnes Sorel settled here, whose chambers were connected to the royal underground passages.
Charles VII founded a state in Chinon, free from the obsolete institutions of feudalism. It was during his reign that the castle experienced its most glorious time.
Louis XII at the castle of Chinon received the legate of Pope Alexander VI, Cesare Borgia, who handed him a notice of annulment of his marriage to Jeanne de Valois. Thus, Louis XII received the right to marry Anne of Brittany, the widow of Charles VIII, thus annexing Brittany to his possessions.
In the 17th century, Chinon Castle became the property of Cardinal Richelieu, who left it as a legacy to his descendants, but in a very deplorable state. The throne room and some other buildings that did not correspond to the spirit of modern times were destroyed. The castle fell into disrepair, the floors and ceilings collapsed.
In 1854, a gradual reconstruction began, caused by the risk of the castle collapsing. In the royal chambers, the floor was restored according to the original drawings, and the rooms themselves were furnished with copies of antique furniture.
Chinon castle architecture: on the territory of the castle are the buildings of the royal chambers and the church. Three parts stand out in the fortress, three castles – Middle, Coudrey and Saint-Georges.
Fort Coudray was erected on the edge of a cliff and separated from the castle by a dry moat.
Fort Saint-Georges served to protect the castle from the more dangerous side – the plains. Little remains of this fort, excavations are underway here.
To get to the castle, you need to climb the steps of rue Jeanne d’Arc to Fort St-Georges, which protected the eastern approaches to Chinon. From the fort, on a suspension bridge across the moat, we get to the Clock Tower (Tour de l’Horloge, XIII century), through the gates of which you can enter the Middle Castle (Château du Milieu). The base of the Clock Tower is small, so from a distance it looks like a stone column. The mechanism in the clock was installed in 1399, and the tower itself now houses a small museum of Joan of Arc.
Interesting facts or the Date with Jean d’ Arc.
The exact date of Joan of Arc’s arrival in Chinon is unknown. She herself claimed that the Dauphin received her immediately. Before that, he convened the Royal Council, which discussed the advisability of Charles meeting with an unknown prophetess. Through the environment, she conveyed the purpose of her visit, said that the King of Heaven instructed her to lift the siege of Orleans and bring the king to Reims for the coronation. The king decided to listen to her. He was only 26 years old, but he was already quite a mature person, smart and well educated. According to legend, the meeting with Jean d’ Arc took place in full view of the entire court. Late in the evening, she was led into a brightly lit hall with courtiers (more than 300 people). Jeanne unmistakably found Charles among the crowd of dressed-up courtiers and, embracing his knees, delivered a speech: “Noble Dauphin, my name is Jeanne the Virgin. The Lord has sent me to help the kingdom and crown you in Reims as his viceroy. Then she publicly called the Dauphin the son of the king and the real heir to the throne. After that, they talked about something in private for a long time, but their conversation remained a secret.
What to see in Chinon Castle.
The castle has a Treasury (Tour du Tresor), royal apartments (Grand Logis Royal) – a complex of buildings of the XII-XV centuries. Armory (Depot d’Armes), kitchens (Cuisines), Assembly Hall (Salle du Commun), bedroom (Sommellerie).
Practical tourist information, how to visit
– The excursions to the castle during the private tours from Paris by a car, the ticket prices, the opening hours etc.
* The city of Rouen is associated with the name of Jeanne d’ Arc. “Russian Taxi” also offers interesting guided tours from Paris to Normandy with a visit to the city of Rouen.