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The Fortress of Montbazon

Forteresse de Montbazon
Forteresse de Montbazon

The origin of Montbazon is at the time Gallo-Roman, the rock mount which was to belong thereafter to certain Bazon was already a strengthened site. The castle of Montbazon whose remainders are visible our days, was built to start from 991 by Foulques Nerra the turbulent one and terrible Count d’ Anjou (see Loches). This castle was without any doubt one of the first castle in France.
Its construction was completed into 994. The keep was a place of strategic importance paramount in the savage will of Foulques Nerra to encircle and conquer if coveted it town of Tours which was with the hands of its savage enemies, the counts of Chartres-Blois.
For this purpose, it made build a score of fortified towns whose principal ones are : Loches, Montrésor, Montrichard, Montbazon, Semblançay, Langeais…
Montbazon, is the first fortified town of this untiring builder.
The keep, an original height of 28 meters, is rectangular and comprises three stages. This architecture is traditional for the works of this type and this time.
In 997, his adversaries, the counts of Blois, removed the place and preserved it during 40 long years. Foulques Nerra took it again at the end of this long interlude. The black falcon was then at the end of its frightening existence (He died in 1040).
The Foulques young person (he was a count at 17 years into 987) began a list from famous owners who gave to Montbazon its row in the French history.

Fortress of Montbazon in France
Fortress of Montbazon

The keep was then transformed into vast fortress by the kings of England. The small keep leaned with the large tower of origin existed already. It was opens it of Geoffroi Martel, the son of the Black Falcon, which made it build in 1050. In 1175, Henri II Plantagenêt begins enormous work of enlarging with the construction of the round tower which bears its name (the site of the future museum Foulques Nerra) and the walls which surround the medieval garden. A full tower, known as Tower of the Donkey, fact part of these fortifications. These structures, carried out with the torn off rough stone of the plate, aimed to create a defensive ravine southern side.
The fortress, attached definitively to the kingdom of France at the beginning of XIIIth century by Philippe Auguste became then the property of a succession of famous families, in particular Mirabeau, Savary, Craon and Rochefoucauld before passing to Rohan, dukes of Montbazon until the Revolution.
Towards the end of XVIth century, the site still knew enormous changes. It is for this period that Montbazon became one of twelve duchy-peerages of the kingdom and richer second after Orleans. With a surface of 1.800 square kilometres, from Sainte-Maure de Touraine to the doors of Tours, it represented the largest territory of France.
The most important evolution of the castle of Montbazon is around 1425, when a second castle of great scale starts to take form vis-a-vis with the old keep. Anchored to the west by the large tower, currently integrated in the seigniorial home , and into the east by the vault of Saint-Georges, whose some traces of the walls still exist, this castle-« neuf » (new) was famous through the country for its style and its elegance.
It is there that Charles VII and Louis XI remained regularly; the first having received at the time of a historical act the homage of the duke of Brittany; the second came there to visit his former Prime Minister, La Balue cardinal, who had betrayed it and who was a prisoner. (see Loches)
But this exceptional residence, attended by kings and symbol of great richness underwent saddest of the fates; It was demolished in 1746. The stones of this exceptional residence, attended by kings and symbol of great richness, were used as fill to consolidate the Road of Spain which crossed the city, current N10.
The keep itself miraculously avoided the same destiny; Inhabited up to 1782 the stages as well as the small contiguous keep broke down in 1791 and the municipality was authorized to destroy the unit.
Fortunately that did not occur. Only the traces of Ancien Régime were unobtrusive in 1794 by the revolutionists.
Three years later, the east wall was split in all its height by the lightning, the deep crack remaining visible nowadays.
The forfeiture of the building was complete when it became a warehouse where a wet cooper stored his barrels; It is at that time (of 1823 to 1852) that the top was disfigured by the installation with the South-western angle of a telegraph of Chappe, a system of mechanical semaphore whose balustrade is always visible.

Fortress of Montbazon
Fortress of Montbazon

Following his purchase In 1860, Joseph de la Ville le Roux, the rich City voluntary one, repurchases the building and makes consolidate the structure to allow the installation, six years later by the Abbot Etienne Chauvin, cleaned parish, of a statue of the Blessed Virgin, high of 9m50. This one was subsidized by the Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III.
The saver of the keep appeared much later by an unexpected chance. A young American lieutenant, come using France and wounded in the trenches of the First World War, fell in love with the monument whereas he was hospitalized in the area. He was a landscape gardener in the United States after the war when he decided to return to France where he bought the ruin in 1922. He saved it accuracy because it was intended for the demolition. In company of his large friend, the American painter Lilian Whitteker, he launched out in a vast programme of rehabilitation of the site. This company will last several decades and will be only stopped by the Second World War. Towards the end of the Fifties, it will have consolidated or rebuilt many walls, will have increased and renovated the old seigniorial home and will have ensured the futur of the keep with the help of the installation of a concrete belt reinforced inside.
Thus is engraved in Historial de Montbazon the name of William Perry Dudley, American adventurer and amateur of old stones. The existence of the keep today testifies to its great passion. The new owners took again the torch to ensure the continuity of a started saga thousand years ago by the Black Falcon.


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