Gaillard Castle

Gaillard Castle, more commonly known by its French name Château-Gaillard, lies south the town of Les Andelys, in the Eure department in France.

Gaillard Castle is famous as in that its unique design uses early principles of concentric fortification and that it is one of the earliest European castles to use machicolation. It was built in only 2 years which was also unusually fast, for normally it took around a decade to build a castle this big.

It consisted of a pentagonal outer bailey with 5 towers, a middle bailey and an inner bailey within the middle bailey. All were separated from the other by dry moats. The inner bailey has an unparalleled design with its wall studded with semi-circular projections. Inside the inner bailey stands the keep.

It was built between 1196 and 1198 by Richard I of England, "the Lionheart". Its purpose was to protect Richard's Duchy of Normandy from Philip II of France as it helped fill a gap in the Norman defences left by the fall of Gisors Castle and above all Gaillon Castle, a castle on the opposite bank of the Seine river which now belonged to Philip and was used as an advanced French fortification to block the Seine valley. Gaillard Castle was also to act as a base from which Richard could launch his campaign to take back the Norman Vexin county from French control. Richard did not enjoy his new castle for long however; he died in 1199.

Between September 1203 and March 1204 Gaillard Castle was besieged by Philip II of France. The castle was held for the English by Roger de Lacy, 6th Baron of Pontefract.

In the beginning the Anglo-Norman population of the village had sought refuge inside the safe castle walls. As the siege drew on into winter Roger expelled some 1000 of them from the castle in an attempt to lessen the number of people draining the castle's supplies. These people were given safe passage by Philip. When Roger expelled another group of some 1000 civilians Philip stopped them and his soldiers opened fire upon them. The civilians tried to get back into the castle but found the gates closed. They then stayed in the outer moat for 3 wintery months. Half of them died of exposure and starvation. Then Philip released and fed them after which they dispersed.

After that the siege began in earnest. The castle walls were attacked with siege engines and the walls of the outer bailey were scaled and its advanced main tower undermined.

Roger and his troops then retreated into the middle and inner bailey.The French then conquered the middle bailey by having a few men climbing up a latrine chute and opening the gates from within. Roger then had to retreat to the inner bailey.

After a short time the French successfully breached the gate of the inner bailey, and the garrison retreated finally to the keep. With supplies running low Roger de Lacy and his garrison, now reduced to 20 knights and 120 other soldiers, then finally surrendered to the French army.

In 1314 Gaillard Castle was the prison of Margaret and Blanche of Burgundy, future queens of France; both had been convicted of adultery in the Tour de Nesle Affair, and after having their heads shaved they were locked away in underground cells. Margaret died here after 2 years.

Between 1333 and 1341 the castle was the residence of the David II of Scotland, after having fled to France during the Second War of Scottish Independence.

During the Hundred Years' War possesion of the castle switched hands several times. In 1419 it was besieged for a year before surrendering to the English. In 1430 it was taken back by the French only to fall back into English hands a month later. In 1449 the castle was finally taken by the French for the last time.

By 1573 Gaillard Castle was uninhabited and in ruins but still considered a threat for the local population. So in 1599 Henry IV of France ordered the demolition of the castle. Following, up until 1611, it was used as a stone quarry. After that the ruin was abandoned.

 At present the outer part of the castle can be visited freely. The inner bailey can be visited for a small fee. A very nice castle, with an unique inner bailey. Recommended!


Gallery

View the embedded image gallery online at:
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Gaillard Castle

Gaillard Castle, more commonly known by its French name Château-Gaillard, lies south the town of Les Andelys, in the Eure department in France.

Gaillard Castle is famous as in that its unique design uses early principles of concentric fortification and that it is one of the earliest European castles to use machicolation. It was built in only 2 years which was also unusually fast, for normally it took around a decade to build a castle this big.

It consisted of a pentagonal outer bailey with 5 towers, a middle bailey and an inner bailey within the middle bailey. All were separated from the other by dry moats. The inner bailey has an unparalleled design with its wall studded with semi-circular projections. Inside the inner bailey stands the keep.

It was built between 1196 and 1198 by Richard I of England, "the Lionheart". Its purpose was to protect Richard's Duchy of Normandy from Philip II of France as it helped fill a gap in the Norman defences left by the fall of Gisors Castle and above all Gaillon Castle, a castle on the opposite bank of the Seine river which now belonged to Philip and was used as an advanced French fortification to block the Seine valley. Gaillard Castle was also to act as a base from which Richard could launch his campaign to take back the Norman Vexin county from French control. Richard did not enjoy his new castle for long however; he died in 1199.

Between September 1203 and March 1204 Gaillard Castle was besieged by Philip II of France. The castle was held for the English by Roger de Lacy, 6th Baron of Pontefract.

In the beginning the Anglo-Norman population of the village had sought refuge inside the safe castle walls. As the siege drew on into winter Roger expelled some 1000 of them from the castle in an attempt to lessen the number of people draining the castle's supplies. These people were given safe passage by Philip. When Roger expelled another group of some 1000 civilians Philip stopped them and his soldiers opened fire upon them. The civilians tried to get back into the castle but found the gates closed. They then stayed in the outer moat for 3 wintery months. Half of them died of exposure and starvation. Then Philip released and fed them after which they dispersed.

After that the siege began in earnest. The castle walls were attacked with siege engines and the walls of the outer bailey were scaled and its advanced main tower undermined.

Roger and his troops then retreated into the middle and inner bailey.The French then conquered the middle bailey by having a few men climbing up a latrine chute and opening the gates from within. Roger then had to retreat to the inner bailey.

After a short time the French successfully breached the gate of the inner bailey, and the garrison retreated finally to the keep. With supplies running low Roger de Lacy and his garrison, now reduced to 20 knights and 120 other soldiers, then finally surrendered to the French army.

In 1314 Gaillard Castle was the prison of Margaret and Blanche of Burgundy, future queens of France; both had been convicted of adultery in the Tour de Nesle Affair, and after having their heads shaved they were locked away in underground cells. Margaret died here after 2 years.

Between 1333 and 1341 the castle was the residence of the David II of Scotland, after having fled to France during the Second War of Scottish Independence.

During the Hundred Years' War possesion of the castle switched hands several times. In 1419 it was besieged for a year before surrendering to the English. In 1430 it was taken back by the French only to fall back into English hands a month later. In 1449 the castle was finally taken by the French for the last time.

By 1573 Gaillard Castle was uninhabited and in ruins but still considered a threat for the local population. So in 1599 Henry IV of France ordered the demolition of the castle. Following, up until 1611, it was used as a stone quarry. After that the ruin was abandoned.

 At present the outer part of the castle can be visited freely. The inner bailey can be visited for a small fee. A very nice castle, with an unique inner bailey. Recommended!


Gallery

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://castles.nl/gaillard-castle#sigFreeIdc22679aa82