CHINON CASTLE
«June 2014»

Photos © Ruud Leeuw


 
We continue on the trail of the Plantagenets!
Chinon is a commune located in the Indre-et-Loire department in the Region Centre, France. The regional area is called the Touraine, which is known as the 'garden of France'.
It is well known for its wines as well as its castle (the 'Château de Chinon') and historic town. Chinon played an important and strategic role during the Middle Ages, having served both French and English kings.
We had only time to visit the Château de Chinon!

Chinon Castle
The historic town of Chinon is on the banks of the Vienne river, about 10 kms from where it joins the Loire.
Settlement here dates from prehistoric times, with a pronounced importance for both French and English history in the Middle Ages.

 

 

Chinon Castle
In the Middle Ages, Chinon developed especially during the reign of Henry II (Henry Plantagenêt, Count of Anjou, crowned King of England in 1154). The castle was rebuilt and extended, becoming one of his favourite residences.
It was where court was frequently held during the Angevin Empire. It certainly looked impressive enough!

House of Plantagenet
A common retrospective view is that Geoffroy V de Plantagenêt founded the dynasty through his marriage to Matilda, the daughter of Henry I of England.
From the accession of their son, Henry II in 1154, via the Treaty of Winchester that ended two decades of civil war, a long line of 14 Plantagenet kings ruled England, until 1485 when Richard III was killed in battle.
The name of Plantagenet that historians use for the entire dynasty dates from the 15th century and comes from a 12th-century nickname of Geoffrey.
Henry II accumulated a vast and complex feudal holding with his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, which extended from the Pyrenees to Ireland and the border of Scotland, that some modern historians have called Angevin Empire.

 

Chinon Castle
They put cut-outs of knights here and there, though not quite to scale. A bit simple and cheap.

Chinon Castle

Chinon Castle
Chinon is located in the heart of the Val de Loire area, within the Vallée de la Vienne.
Quite a view!

Chinon Castle
The importance of Chinon derives from its position on the bank of the Vienne river in Chinon, France just before
it joins the Loire. From prehistoric times, the rivers of France formed the major trade routes, and the Vienne
joins the fertile southern plains of the Poitou and the city of Limoges to the thoroughfare of the Loire,
thus giving access to the sea at the port of Nantes on the western coast, and to the Île-de-France in the east.


 

 

Chinon Castle

 

 

Chinon Castle
Jeanne d'Arc visited Chinon in 1429.

Chinon Castle


 

 

Chinon Castle

Chinon Castle
It was during the Hundred Years' War that Chinon took on a new lease of life, as the heir apparent, the future Charles VII of France, had sought refuge in 1418 in the province. The town remained faithful to him and he made lengthy stay at his court in Chinon. In 1429, Joan of Arc came here to acknowledge him.


Chinon Castle - Joanne of Arc
Recognising the future King - 17th century Aubusson tapestry
 

 

Chinon Castle
Changes made to the castle ca.1100 - 1429.

Château de Chinon was founded by Theobald I, Count of Blois.
In the 11th century the castle became the property of the counts of Anjou.
In 1156 Henry II of England, a member of the House of Anjou, took the castle from his brother Geoffrey after he had rebelled for a second time.
Henry favoured the Château de Chinon as a residence: most of the standing structure can be attributed to his reign and he died here in 1189.

Early in the 13th century, King Philip II of France harassed the English lands in France and in 1205 he captured Chinon after a siege that lasted several months, after which the castle remained under French control. When King Philip IV accused the Knights Templar of heresy during the first decade of the 14th century, several leading members of the order were imprisoned there.

Used by Charles VII in the 15th century, the Château de Chinon became a prison in the second half of the 16th century, but then fell out of use and was left to decay. It has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1840.

 

Chinon Castle
Chinon's medieval strategic importance is clearly seen here: it offers an easy crossing point by means of a central island in the Vienne,
and the rocks dominating the shore provided not only a natural fort, but also protection against the annual flooding of the river.