Loches castle (Loire Valley)

Royal Castle of Loches, the history
Loches Castle (Château de Loches) and the Royal Town is located in the commune of Loches in the Loire Valley, department “Indre and Loire” (See on the map). The main tower of Loches is a fortified castle in the heart of the city, which, in addition to the donjon, houses the royal palace and the collegiate church of Sainte-Our.

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The Royal house. Built on top of a rocky outcrop overlooking the Indre valley, the royal house was one of the favorite residences of the Valois during the Hundred Years’ War. It was built in two phases between the end of the 14th century and the end of the 15th century. The oldest part to the south is adorned with four towers, more decorative than defensive. The second part, built a century later in the northern extension, has a flamboyant Gothic style. Three female figures left their mark on it: Jean d’Arc, Agnès Sorel and Anne de Bretagne.
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The first mention of a fortification on the site of a modern castle was noted by Ursus Cahors in 491. Then a certain Sant-Ur built a mill near the monastery until his death in 508. In 742, the whole area was captured by the troops of Pepin and Carloman, who crushed the revolt of Hunald, Duke of Aquitaine. At that time, the fortress was wiped off the face of the earth. Later, several owners changed on this territory …
On the site of donjon Loches, which is the oldest surviving main tower in the country, at first only a wooden one was built in the 9th century to protect the nearby village. It was connected with the last underground passages carved into the rocks.
The land belonged to the Angevin count Fulk I the Red, who married Rosille de Loches, who brought him the Loches fortress as a dowry. Thus was the birth of the power of the family of the Dukes of Anjou. His successor, Count Fulke Nerra, fought for many years for neighboring lands with representatives of the family of Counts de Blois, and it was he who ordered the construction of a stone quadrangular fortress, a donjon, on the site of a wooden tower. Construction began in 1005 and continued until about 1070 (according to other sources, construction was carried out from 1013 and 1035). The donjon was 25 by 15 meters in size and reached a height of 38 meters, the thickness of the walls was 3 meters, loopholes were made in them, at the top of the walls there were loopholes for shelling the assaulting enemy. For this era, he was virtually impregnable.
Fulca Nerra died in 1040 and was buried in the castle. The successor of his military policy, Count Geoffroy Martel d’Anjou, eventually defeated the representatives of the de Blois family at Saint-Martin-les-Beau, and this finally made it possible for the Nerra family to settle in the castle, which was surrounded by more and more new fortifications. Over time, the last representative of the Nerra family married the daughter of the English king, and their son Henry II Plantagenet (1133 – 1189) in 1154 reigned on the throne of England (the Plantagenet dynasty ruled from 1154 to 1394). He surrounded the donjon with fortress walls and moats. In his possession was a significant territory of France. Its king (since 1180) Philip II Augustus (Philip of the Crooked, August 21, 1165 – July 14, 1223) managed to capture the territories of the Plantagenets.
The son of Henry II King (since 1189) Richard I the Lionheart (September 8, 1157 – April 6, 1199) in 1199 went on the 3rd crusade. Then, upon returning from it, he was captured by the emperor (since 1191) of the Holy Roman Empire, Henry VI, who was at enmity with him (November 1165 – September 28, 1197) and was released by him only in February 1194 and the next month arrived in England. However, during his captivity, Philip Augustus received from Richard’s brother, Prince John (Jean), a large amount of land, including the castle of Loches. On June 13, 1194, Richard, who landed in France, captured it in 3 hours. After the death of Richard, after a year-long siege, in 1205, Philip Augustus recaptured Loches and turned the castle into a state prison. The castle never took part in large-scale hostilities again. The French king reconstructed the fortress, and later the Old Residential Building was built in the northern part of it, which entered the history of France, when in June 1429 the famous maiden Jeanne d’Arc (January 6, 1412 – May 30, 1431) persuaded the Dauphin (heir) Charles (February 22, 1403 – July 22, 1461) to be crowned in Reims on July 17, 1429 under the name of Charles VII.
In 1444, the first favorite of Charles was Agnes (or Agnes) Sorel – “Lady of Beauty” (1421 or 1422 – February 9, 1450), who settled in the castle of Loches. She was very “reverent” about luxury and the royal treasury suffered from this. In 1450, she died and, at her request, was buried in the church of Notre Dame de Loches (now Saint-Ur), to which she bequeathed 2 thousand ecu in gold. Some time after the funeral, the monks turned to the heir to the French throne, Louis (July 3, 1423 – August 30, 1483, king from 1461) with a request to transfer her remains to the castle, but Louis replied that he would go there with her and gold. Thus, everything remains the same.
In the 15th century, the New Tower and the Martello Guard Tower were added to the Old Building. Then the royal apartments consisted of a tower and a wall built in the 13th century, several buildings with a watchtower (14th century), a hunting lodge of the 15th century; around the same time, a donjon was erected, the road from which led to the tower of St. Anthony and the donjon in the area of ​​​​the Cordelier gate. There was also a chapel of Anne of Brittany (January 25, 1422 – January 1, 1514), the wife of two kings – Charles VIII (June 30, 1470 – April 7, 1498) and Louis XII (June 27, 1462 – January 1, 1515). Anna lived for some time in the castle of Loches while Charles fought in Italy.
From the 15th century, the castle was a military prison, many famous prisoners stayed in it: the famous historian Philippe de Commines (circa 1447 – October 18, 1511), a diplomat and author of memoirs; Duke of Milan Lodovico Maria Sforza (July 27, 1452 – May 27, 1508), nicknamed Moro, captured in the battle of Novara, painted the ceiling and walls (images of the coat of arms, helmet and inscriptions that have survived to this day) and died in Loches ; conspirators against King Francis I (September 12, 1494 – March 31, 1547, King of France from January 1, 1515) Puy and Autin Antoinde Chabanne and Jacques Guro, who made a mortise altar and a wall polyptych during their “stay” in the castle of Loches ( several paintings consisting of many folds or planks, united by a single theme), depicting the Passion of the Lord.
During the war for the independence of the American colonies from Great Britain (1775 – 1783), France provided military and financial assistance to the Americans and the French king Louis XVI (August 23, 1754 – January 21, 1793) adapted Loches Castle as a prison for British prisoners.
After the French Revolution of 1789, the soldiers of some battalions of national volunteers and mobilized departments of Indre and Indre-et-Loire (they were formed in 1791-1793) thought that Sorel’s tomb was a saint’s tomb, desecrated it by breaking an alabaster statue of Agnes and discarded her remains. In addition, the “revolutionary” soldiers plundered the castle and almost completely destroyed many of the buildings in it: the Old Residential Building, the Church of Notre Dame de Loches, the Anna Chapel and prison cells. Later, the remains of Agnes were collected and transferred to the premises of the Old Building, and a copy of the old statue was installed over the new resting place.
However, the Loches Castle remained a military prison until 1926.
Over a very long time, the castle gradually fell into decay. In 1806, restoration work began, but even today some of its buildings lie in ruins. Only in 1862 the French Ministry of Culture included the castle in the list of historical monuments. The gate of the castle wall became a similar object by decree of July 12, 1886, the old royal palace – in 1889. historical monument according to the conclusion of August 8, 1962.
Nowadays, several rooms can be visited by tourists – for example, a 15th-century torture chamber (the shackles used in quartering are kept here) and a copy of a cell from about the middle of the same century, a donjon (where there is only one entrance through a small tower with loopholes), with the roofs of which you can see the panorama of the entire fortress and the valley of the river Indre, as well as the streets, houses, the palace and the church of Sainte-Our of a small town.

Practical tourist information about the visit.
The entry ticket to the Royal City includes entry to the donjon, the royal chambers and the medieval garden of inspiration. The cost is 8.5 euros. Ticket sales end 30 minutes before closing.
Opening hours: 01 April – 30 September: 9 h – 19 h. October 1 – March 31: 9 h 30 – 17 h. closed: January 1st and December 25th.
According to the schedule, there are special programs on certain days.

To visit the castle during the tour of the castles of the Loire, you can use individual or small group trips by car (minibus).
The classic program of the tour from Paris “Three castles in one day” is NOT included.
Only “the individual tours from Paris to the castles of the Loire”