Guise Castle, locally known as Château-fort de Guise, lies in the town of the same name in the Aisne department in the Picardy region in France.
Guise Castle was first built in the late 10th century.
During the 12th century it passed to the Aresnes family through marriage. In 1177 the castle was taken after a siege by the Counts of Flanders and Hainaut, which caused a lot of damage. After a peace treaty had been signed in 1185, the castle became a royal fortress. It was subsequently rebuilt by Philip II of France.
In 1223 and 1224 the present keep was built. It might have had a 10th century predecessor. Also the curtain walls were raised.
In 1340, Jean de Hainaut, a supporter of the English, besieged Guise Castle during his retreat. During the Hundred Years' War the castle often served as a refuge for the local people during English incursions in the area. The castle passed to the Anjou family in 1360.
In 1424 the survivors of the resistance against the English, including companions of Joan of Arc, took refuge in the castle. In 1425 it was seized by John II of Luxembourg, who then became Count of Guise. Between 1431-1440 the castle was restored, which was partly financed by the ransom money he got paid by the English for Joan of Arc.
Guise came into the possession of Claude de Lorraine in 1510. He became the first Duke of Guise in 1528. In 1536 the castle was occupied by the troops of Charles V, under command of the Prince of Nassau. That same year it returned into French hands again. From 1540, the Duke of Guise, transformed the castle into one of the most modern citadels of its time, with one of the first applications in France of bastions. During the religious wars later that century, the Dukes of Guise were always fervent opponents of the Reformation. This caused the castle to be besieged by Henry IV of France in 1594 after which the Duke of Guise submitted to royal authority.
In 1635 Guise Castle was again besieged, this time by the Spanish. It was confiscated in 1641 by the Duke of Lorraine; Henry II. During a series of civil wars in France between 1648 and 1653 Henry stayed loyal to the young Louis XIV of France. This caused the castle to be sieged again in 1650 by the Spanish with the support of the Princes of the Blood, but the castle succesfully resisted. The castle became a royal fortress and was then strengthened by the military engineer Vauban.
The keep was again restored in 1767.
WW I caused major destruction for Guise Castle. First in 1914 when it blocked the advance of the German army for some time. Then again in 1918 when French conquered the town with heavy use of artillery. The castle was largely destroyed; only the keep and the outer walls survived, although greatly damaged. In 1923 the castle was sold and became a quarry and a landfill. This caused collapses and landslides which caused the town of Guise to start planning the complete demolition of the castle in 1931, however WW II prevented this. When in 1953 houses in the town, beneath the castle's walls had to be evacuated because of the danger of collapse, renovations started. These continue up until today.
Guise Castle can be visited for a fee. A very interesting castle, especially the underground tunnels. Etang Castle is nearby.