Gien castle (in French Chateau de Gien) is located in the city of the same name in the Center – Loire Valley region in the Loire department of the Montargis region of the canton of Gien. It is one of the most beautiful castles to visit and therefore many excursions to the castles of the Loire from Paris go here, though individual or independent.
Brief history of the castle.
Traces of a prehistoric civilization have been discovered at Gien-les-Vieux. Gien was probably the center of exchange between the Carnut farmers and the Aedouin blacksmiths.
In Roman times, and possibly during the Gallic period, there was a village in the territory of Gien-le-Vieux. Indeed, there are traces of the Gallo-Roman presence: columns, coins, etc. The name of this small town is unknown to us.
During the early Middle Ages, Guyenne-le-Vieux became a parish when Saint Peregrine, 1st Bishop (258-304) founded the Church of Saints Peter and Paul.
In the 8th century, Charlemagne allowed the construction of a fortified part on the site of the current castle.
In the 9th and 10th centuries, Gien-le-Vieux suffered from the turmoil caused by the collapse of the Carolingian empire and Viking raids that plundered the villages bordering the Loire. The population gradually left Zhien-old. Thus, a new settlement gradually developed on the site of the modern city.
However, Gien-le-Vieux will retain its parish of Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul until the 17th century.
The lordship of Gien-le-Vieux abandoned the monastery of Fleur in Saint-Benoit-on-Loire, while the castle in the fortified city of Gien was owned by secular lords: Etienne de Vermandois (was the first lord of Gien for about a year), and the powerful barons Donzy, counts of Gien by usurpation in 1156
In 1199, Philip Auguste ceded Gien and his county to Pierre II de Courtenay, Count of Nevers, and connected him with the royal domain.
In 1246 the first stone bridge was built; the present 18th century bridge includes some of its parts.
At the end of the 13th century, the first belt of fortifications was built in the vicinity of the city; then there will be three more. Since then, the city has been completely fortified until 1824, the time of the construction of piers on the Loire.
The parish church of Gien-les-Vieux is too far from the city and a new church has been built. The arrondissement of Saint Laurent was formed in Gien.
In 1307, Philip the Handsome gave Gien to his brother Louis, Count of Evreux.
In 1385 his heirs ceded their rights to Duke Jean de Berry, who sold them in 1388 to Philip, Duke of Burgundy. His son Jean the Fearless inherited the castle in 1404 and celebrated the wedding of his daughter Catherine here in 1410.
In 1419, Jean the Fearless was killed by a party of Armagnacs in Montero-Fol-Yvonne. Gien returned to the royal domain, but was soon handed over to the constable de Richemont for his services as constable of France.
In 1430 he was deprived of Gieny by Charles VII in the interests of Dunois.
In 1462 the county of Gien passed to Pierre de Bourbon, lord of Bejo, whose son married Anne of France, daughter of Louis XI.
In 1481 Anna took over the administration of her county. She made Gien one of her principal residences. From 1483 to 1491 she was regent for her underage brother, the future Charles VIII. Under him, the city was decorated: between 1494 and 1500 the castle was rebuilt in the Renaissance style, the bridge was partially rebuilt, the fortified wall was restored and expanded, the collegiate church of St. Etienne was built. Fine hotels in the Renaissance style appeared in the city.
In 1522, Anna de Bejo died, and the county was transferred to her only daughter Susanna, the wife of constable Charles de Bourbon.
In 1523, King Francis I, who was preparing for war against Emperor Charles V, signed a law in the castle, according to which he entrusted the regency to his mother, Louise of Savoy. The latter hated Charles de Bourbon and confiscated the county of Gien after his betrayal near Pavia, where in 1525 he fought against his king and captured him. After the death of Louise of Savoy, Gien returned in 1561 to Charles de Bourbon, the grandson of a traitor under Pavia.
During the religious wars, Gieny had a large Protestant community and a temple from 1559. It quickly developed into a strong Protestant city, like its neighbors Châtillon-Coligny, Châtillon-sur-Loire and Orléans. During this time the churches were plundered and the clergy expelled. Around 1587, the League regained control of the city, having lost the rights to its civil, criminal and district courts in favor of Bleneau.
In 1616, Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Guise, received from Louis XIII the County of Guy Gien. He later sold it to Chancellor Seguier.
In 1652, during the Fronde, Anne of Austria, the regent of the kingdom, Cardinal Mazarin and the little Louis XIV took refuge in the castle, and the royal troops of Marshal d’Aukencourt were defeated by the Prince of Condé at Blaineau. Turenne succeeded in stopping Conde’s army at Poilly-les-Giens. The king and his entourage were able to leave for Saint, and then to Paris.
In 1672 Chancellor Séguier died, leaving the castle to his daughter Charlotte, who successively married Maximilian II de Béthune, Duke de Sully (son of Sully), and then Henri de Bourbon, Duke of Verneuil. After his death in 1704, the county passed to Henri Charles de Coiselin, Bishop of Metz.
In 1736 the county was bought by Claude Henri Feidot de Marville, marquis de Dampierre-en-Burly, and later rapporteur in the Council of State. The widower, having lost all his children and without a direct heir, bequeathed it in 1778 to his distant nephew Charles Henri de Feudeau (1754-1802), Marquis of Brou, who then passed it on to his youngest son. In this way, the Faido kept the castle until 1823.
The French Revolution of 1789 in Gien passed without bloodshed. The city became the principal city of the department and then a sub-prefecture in 1800.
In the 19th century, Gien had a prison, a charitable organization, tanneries, a brewery, a printing house and a sandstone factory. Berths were laid, a faience factory was created; halls, the city hall, the church of St. Louis, the station were built. It was a time of devastating floods: in 1846, 1856 and 1866, which raised the water level in the city by several decimetres.
In 1823, the castle was bought for 31,000 francs from the Count de Feydeau, the last lord of Gien, by the Loire department with the aim of building a court, an arrest house and a subprefecture building here.
In 1857, the Berry region, located on the left bank of the Loire, was detached from Poiley-le-Gienne and attached to Gien.
In 1926, as a result of R. Poincaré’s reform, the Gien district was abolished. The municipality and the canton joined the arrondissement of Montargis. However, the city retained its court and tax center.
Before World War II, between January 29 and February 8, 1939, more than 2,800 Spanish refugees fleeing the collapse of the Spanish Republic arrived on the Loire. Including inadequate reception facilities in Orléans, there were 46 rural reception centres, including one in Gien. The refugees, mostly women and children (the men were disarmed and held in custody in the south of France), were subjected to strict quarantine, vaccinations, and limited postal communications. Some refugees returned to Spain, spurred on by the French government, which eased the conditions for return. Those that remain are grouped at Camp Ed (?), in Fleury-l’Aubray.
WW2: On June 15, 1940, the Luftwaffe bombarded the bridge at Gien in order to prevent the retreat of the French army. This bombardment set off gigantic fires that destroyed the old caves at the foot of the castle. The Allies bombarded the bridge area in June-August 1944. They did not reach their target and did nothing but collateral damage, including several civilian casualties. The central arch of the bridge was destroyed in August 1944 by the Germans during their retreat.
Zhien was mostly in ruins: 422 buildings were completely destroyed and 921 were partially destroyed. The city center burned for three days and three nights. The churches of St. Peter and St. Louis were destroyed, but the castle survived. Beginning in 1941, the people of Zhien were thinking about the difficult task of rebuilding the city. The Vichy regime, in charge of urban planning, was busy developing regional-style recovery plans.
The Real reconstruction began only after the war in June 1946. This was done in accordance with the plan of general works in the style of several surviving buildings. Gien gradually freed itself from the ruins, and the new harmonious ensemble of buildings is now rightly called the “pearl of French reconstruction.”
Local Attractions to see..
It houses the International Museum of Hunting, created by the impulsive Henri de Linare in 1952. It contains a myriad of hunting rifles and other items related to various types of hunting.
The following lived in Gien at different times: the famous general of the Republic and the First Empire, Pierre Cesar Gudin de Bardelier (1775 – 1855), whose name is placed on the 29th column of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris; General Etienne Marcel (1792 – 1880); one of the last “pualus” Ferdinand Gilson (1898 – 2006); daughter of Alain Delon – French actress Anushka Delon.
Practical tourist helpful information.
The city and the castle (with an external inspection) can be visited by including it in the program of individual tours from Paris to the castles of the Loire or on your own by car.