Dominating the river Vienne, the plate of Chinon finishes out of spur, almost to touch the river. This spur, strengthened as of the Romans, knows during ten centuries a confused and tragic history.
Three Masters in the art of the fortifications especially left their print on the extremely current castle: two kings of England, Henri II and Richard Lion Heart, a king of France, Philippe Auguste. This is in 1205, after an eight month old siege, that this last removed the place to Plantagenêts.
The court of the « roi de Bourges » (beginning of the 15th C.).
With Charles VII begins, for Chinon, a page of history. France is in a very serious situation. Henri IV, king of England, are also « roi de Paris », Charles VII is only the « roi de Bourges » when, in 1427, he installs his small court in Chinon. Following the year, he joins together there the general states of the provinces of the Center and the South still subjected to his authority. The States vote 400.000 livers to organize the defence of Orléans, besieged by the English.
Jeanne d’Arc in Chinon (1429).
Jeanne, escorted of six knights makes the voyage from Lorraine to Chinon, without meeting only one of the armed bands which afflict the country. The people see a manifest sign of divine protection there. While waiting for being received by the king, Jeanne remains two days in a hotel trade of the low city, fasting and requesting.
When the little 18 year old country-woman is introduced into the palate, one tries to make her lose capacity. The large room is illuminated of 50 torches; 300 rich person costumes gentlemen are brought together; the king is dissimulated in the mob a courtier adorned his dress.
Jeanne advances timidly, distinguishes the true Charles VII at once and goes right to him. Although he claims not to be the king, she embraces the knees to him: « Gentile Dolphin, says her to him, (not crowned Charles was only the Dolphin) my name is Jehanne the Virgin. The King of the Skies requests you by me whom you will be crowned in Reims and you will be a lieutenant of the King of the Skies who is king of France ».
Charles is attacked by doubts: he wonders whether Charles VI was really his father (his mother is Isabeau of Bavaria, who’s the steering, made scandal). When the Virgin declares to him: « say to you, on behalf of Lord the Christ, who you are heir to France and truth wire of king », it feels comforted and well close to be convinced of the mission of the heroine.
The family circle of Charles VII still fights. One makes appear the girl before the court of Poitiers. A learned assembly of doctors and matrons must decide if she is witch or inspired. During three weeks, one questions her. Her naive answers, her sharp distributed, her piety, her confidence in the assistance of God triumph over the more sceptics. She is declared « envoyée de Dieu ».
Returned in Chinon, the King gives her weapons and soldiers and she leaves on April 20, 1429 to achieve her miraculous and tragic destiny.
The divorce of Louis XII (end of 15th c.).
Chinon remains the seat of the court until 1450, and then is abandoned. However, the castle finds a fugitive glare in 1498, when the king Louis XII receives the papal legate there, Cesar Borgia, come to carry the bubble of its divorce to him.
Louis XII separates without regret from Jeanne de France, the daughter of Louis XI. He was only 14 years old when this last it made him marry. A double bump, the coxalgic hip, a simiesque aspect explains the few of attentiveness of her husband during the twenty-three years of their union. When Charles VIII dies, Louis XII must, according to the will of late, to marry his widow Aune of Brittany. He has for her a sharp inclination and this new marriage preserves Brittany at the crown; double reason so that the king celebrates by splendid festivals the arrival of the bubble liberator.
Richelieu, the great cardinal, covets Chinon and, not without sorrow, becomes owner about it. The castle remains in his family until the Revolution. The castle is very badly maintained: fortifications and buildings fall in ruin. Under Napoleon 1st its aspect is degraded. Become property of the department, Chinon was the object of consolidation of the ruins.
Since southern bank of the river Vienne which the sight on the castle is most beautiful. Place close to the bridge and you will be able to admire the splendour of the medieval castle of Chinon.
This remarkable medieval fortress in its dimensions dominates the city over all its length (approximately 500m length over 100m of large).The walls follow the contour of the rock on the north of Vienna.
The castle breaks up into three parts: the Fort of Coudray, the medium castle and the Fort Saint George.
The Fort of Coudray.
It contains the keep or turn of Coudray which occupies the Western part of construction. It was built at the 13th century under Philippe Auguste. It makes 25 meters height and 12 meters of diameter. It counts three stages whose two inferiors are vaulted; the stages are connected by a staircase. Jeanne d’Arc lived the first stage during her stay in Chinon. In this tower, Philippe IV le Bel one made there imprisons Templiers in 1308 (and in particular the great master Jacques of Molay) before the judgement which was to condemn them to death. One allots the graffiti of the floor to them.
The fort of Coudray comprises two other beautiful towers; the tower of Boisy and the tower of the Mill.
On the with dimensions North of the Keep you can always observe the foundations of the ancient chapel Saint Martin. In the court, there is a well of 95 meters depth. Many undergrounds left the Fort of Coudray; the accesses are always visible with the bottom of the Keep and the Tower of Boisy.
The Tower of the Mill is located at South-western corner of the building. It makes twenty meters in Height and eight meters in diameter. It dominates the valley of fifty meters. One allots his origin to the time of Henri II Plantagenet. It comprises three stages and is particularly well protected by several lines of defence what added to its position made it almost impregnable.
The Tower of Boisy is located at the South-eastern corner of the Fort of Coudray and dominates the city. At the beginning it named Tour of the Belfry. It makes thirty meters in height and has the right-angled form fifteen meters length of on ten broad. The average width of the walls is higher than three meters. The Tower of Boisy communicated with the Keep on the level of the higher stages. The room of the higher level was one of most beautiful castle with its 6, 5 meters height.
The Medium castle.
This castle forms the central part of the set. The ditch which separates Fort St George from the castle of the Medium was spanned by a wood bridge leading to a drawbridge. A bridge hones has replaced it. The entrance of the castle is done by the tower of the clock (interesting museum Jeanne d’Arc). This tower is curiously punted: 5 m of thickness for 35 m height. Seen profile, city, it looks like a column. A bell, the Marie Swath, placed in a skylight on the platform, always sounds the hours. It is actuated with the hand in the special occasions. On the left, you will see the Royal remainders of the Home along the Southern curtain with in particular the Large Room.
The Northern part of the Royal Home disappeared, and in particular the chapel Sainte Melaine, the West extremity of the Royal Home communicated by a drawbridge with the Fort of Coudray. The Royal Home were built 12th at the 15th century. They formed a « U ». It remains only the Southern part which gives on the city. This part included the Large Room. There was also the private chapel Melaine which was the Royal chapel of the castle. It was founded in 10th century by the monks of the Abbey of Bourgueil and its construction was completed at the 11th century, it was located between the Large Room and the Tower of the Dogs. It’s in this chapel that Henri II Plantagenêt died on July 7, 1189. Its body was left by its servants, covered of a simple coat. He was then transported in Fontevraud.
In the time of Charles VII the Royal Home were the theatre many outstanding episodes, and in particular the rapt of George of Trémoille on the orders of the Constable of Richemont.
The construction of the Large Room had just finished when y took place, March 8, 1429, the presentation of Jeanne d’Arc to Charles VII. The north yard consists of three turns: Argenton, Chiens and Echauguette.
The Tower of Argenton was built at the end of the 15th century by Philippe de Commynes Lord of Argenton. It was used as prison; it’s there that the famous cages of Louis XI were used.
The Tower of the Dogs (des chiens) was built at the time of Philippe-Auguste at the beginning of the 13th century. Its name comes from what it was used as kennels for the royal hound. It makes 23 meters height and comprises three stages. Higher stage is a little downwards ground of the castle; the main part of the levels is connected by a staircase.
The Tower of Echauguette made it possible to control the walls north of the castle.
The Fort St-Georges.
Dismantled today, it was built after the two other castles by Henri II Plantagenêt. Vienne and the ravines protected the castle in the South, west and North, but the Eastern side remained accessible to the assailants arriving by the plate. St-George reinforced defence at this place. The name of the fort came from its chapel, devoted to the saint of England.
Anecdotes (From the book of Monsieur Henry Brocourt)
How the rain saved Chinon…
« In 5th century, Aegidius Afradius, chief of the Roman militia in Gaulle, knowing the importance of Chinon, because of its situation to the doors of Poitou, gathered his troops to make siege of it. Facing of the resistance of the population, he had to divert the source of the only well which ensured the water of the Chinonais besieged, thus believing to make them capitulate. But the abbot Maxime, called Saint-Mexme later, beseeched the gods that a storm so much burst, followed torrents of water which returned confidence to besieged ready to go. The seized troops of Aegidius raised the seat and were folded up on the commune of Ginais, following violence of the storm. »
The death of Henri II Plantagenêt.
« Forsaken, given up of all, betrayed, Henri II Plantagenêt dies in the vault Sainte Melaine on July 7, 1189. Hardly had it returned the last sigh which its servants plundered all that was in the places, leaving it naked lie on a table where a young page covered it with its coat. Repenting, the new king of England, Richard Heart of Lion, wanted to take in front of the coffin of his father but saw ill omen in one squirted of blood left at this moment the body of Henri.
Research was carried out without success to find the treasure hidden with the castle of Chinon by Henri II of a considerable value. This one being not found, Richard came to the fortress in 1190 and made imprison Etienne de Tours, then Captain Governor of the city, making it guilty of embezzlements. »