Gisors Castle

Gisors Castle, locally known as Château de Gisors, lies in the town of the same name, in the Eure department in France.

Gisors Castle was first built in 1097/98 by Robert of Bellême, 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury, on the order of William II of England. By then it consisted of a wooden keep, surrounded by a palisade upon a 15-meter-high motte. It was then situated near the border between the Anglo-Normans and the French. In 1113 this castle hosted a meeting between Henry I of England and Louis VI of France.

After the castle was besieged 1120 by rebellious Norman lords, the English monarch decided to strengthen the castle and building was resumed in 1123. The wooden keep and palisade were replaced by an octagonal stone keep with a stone circular curtain wall. Also a rampart forming the lower bailey was added.

In 1158 Gisors Castle was again the place of a royal meeting; this time between Henry II of England and Louis VII of France. There they planned the marriage of Henry´s son with Louis´ daugther, respectively 3 and 6 months at the time... In anticipation of the coming wedding the castle was entrusted to the Knights Templar until 1160, when it became Norman again.

Between 1170 and 1180 the castle is strengthened again; the keep is raised by 2 additional floors, the moat is enlarged and the rampart of the lower bailey is replaced by a walled enclosure flanked by 8 towers.

Again Gisors Castle was the site of a royal meeting; this time in 1188 between Henry II of England and Philip II of France, in which they decided a truce. In 1193 Philip, however, saw his chance, when the English king Richard I "the Lionheart" was held prisoner in a castle in present-day Austria, and seized Gisors Castle. Philip then strengthened the castle by adding a prison tower and a barbican. The next year the freed Richard returned but in 1194 signed the Treaty of Gaillon which placed the castle under the French crown.

After the treaty the castle lost its function as a border castle and it was transformed into a prison. During the Trials of the Knights Templar in the early 14th century it held several imprisoned Templar knights, amongst them Jacques de Molay, the last Templar Grand Master, between 1310 and 1314.

In 1419, during the Hundred Years' War, Gisors Castle was taken by Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence, for the English. They were expelled for the last time in 1449. After that the castle lost its military importance and was gradually neglected until it was finally decommissioned in 1591.

According to some legends the castle would be the hiding place of the treasure of the Knights Templar. This led to some digging in the mid-20th century which damaged the ruins. Nothing was found.

At present the castle of Gisors is a public park with the inner castle upon its motte as the center. The inner castle itself can not be visited, at least not when I came by. Too bad, I am very curious about the interior of the keep. But still recommended.


Gallery

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Gisors Castle

Gisors Castle, locally known as Château de Gisors, lies in the town of the same name, in the Eure department in France.

Gisors Castle was first built in 1097/98 by Robert of Bellême, 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury, on the order of William II of England. By then it consisted of a wooden keep, surrounded by a palisade upon a 15-meter-high motte. It was then situated near the border between the Anglo-Normans and the French. In 1113 this castle hosted a meeting between Henry I of England and Louis VI of France.

After the castle was besieged 1120 by rebellious Norman lords, the English monarch decided to strengthen the castle and building was resumed in 1123. The wooden keep and palisade were replaced by an octagonal stone keep with a stone circular curtain wall. Also a rampart forming the lower bailey was added.

In 1158 Gisors Castle was again the place of a royal meeting; this time between Henry II of England and Louis VII of France. There they planned the marriage of Henry´s son with Louis´ daugther, respectively 3 and 6 months at the time... In anticipation of the coming wedding the castle was entrusted to the Knights Templar until 1160, when it became Norman again.

Between 1170 and 1180 the castle is strengthened again; the keep is raised by 2 additional floors, the moat is enlarged and the rampart of the lower bailey is replaced by a walled enclosure flanked by 8 towers.

Again Gisors Castle was the site of a royal meeting; this time in 1188 between Henry II of England and Philip II of France, in which they decided a truce. In 1193 Philip, however, saw his chance, when the English king Richard I "the Lionheart" was held prisoner in a castle in present-day Austria, and seized Gisors Castle. Philip then strengthened the castle by adding a prison tower and a barbican. The next year the freed Richard returned but in 1194 signed the Treaty of Gaillon which placed the castle under the French crown.

After the treaty the castle lost its function as a border castle and it was transformed into a prison. During the Trials of the Knights Templar in the early 14th century it held several imprisoned Templar knights, amongst them Jacques de Molay, the last Templar Grand Master, between 1310 and 1314.

In 1419, during the Hundred Years' War, Gisors Castle was taken by Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence, for the English. They were expelled for the last time in 1449. After that the castle lost its military importance and was gradually neglected until it was finally decommissioned in 1591.

According to some legends the castle would be the hiding place of the treasure of the Knights Templar. This led to some digging in the mid-20th century which damaged the ruins. Nothing was found.

At present the castle of Gisors is a public park with the inner castle upon its motte as the center. The inner castle itself can not be visited, at least not when I came by. Too bad, I am very curious about the interior of the keep. But still recommended.


Gallery

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://castles.nl/gisors-castle#sigFreeIdbd77dde27f