Vire Tower

Vire Tower, locally known as Donjon de Vire, lies in the town of the same name, in the Calvados department in France.

The Vire Tower is actually the last remnant of the castle of Vire. It was built in 1123 on a rocky outcrop in a bend of the river Vire by Henry I of England. Henry had reconquered Normandy from his brother Robert Curthose after the Battle of Tinchebray in 1106 and needed strongholds to defend the borders of the Duchy of Normandy against opponents. Vire was one of these strongholds, as were Avranches, Domfront and Mortain.

Probably Henry's castle was preceded by a wooden fortification dating back to the reign of Charlemagne in the 9th century.

Fortification of the town of Vire, north of the castle, was started around 1250 and completed around 1310. By then the walls of the castle were connected to the town walls and the castle formed an integral part of its defenses.

The town, becoming prosperous at the end of the Middle Ages, was pillaged in 1368 by a 'Free Company' (a roaming army of unemployed mercenaries) during the Hundred Years' War. It was occupied by the English from 1418 until 1450.

In 1633, during the reign of Louis XIII of France, because a number of medieval castles served as hideouts during rebellions (by the Huguenots in particular), the castle was dismantled on orders of Cardinal Richelieu. Although the castle had been falling into ruin since the end of the 16th century, it still took 6 months to dismantle it.

The square keep, protected on 3 sides by an escarpment, had been built on an ideal site and only needed protection on the northern side. This had been done by erecting an inner enclosure with 3 towers and an outer enclosure with another 3 towers and a two-towered gate building. Due to the dismantling nothing of this remains but a part of the keep.

At present Vire Tower stands in a small town park. The grounds of its former enclosures are now used as a car park. The tower ruin can freely be viewed. A nice but simple ruin.


Gallery

Vire Tower

Vire Tower, locally known as Donjon de Vire, lies in the town of the same name, in the Calvados department in France.

The Vire Tower is actually the last remnant of the castle of Vire. It was built in 1123 on a rocky outcrop in a bend of the river Vire by Henry I of England. Henry had reconquered Normandy from his brother Robert Curthose after the Battle of Tinchebray in 1106 and needed strongholds to defend the borders of the Duchy of Normandy against opponents. Vire was one of these strongholds, as were Avranches, Domfront and Mortain.

Probably Henry's castle was preceded by a wooden fortification dating back to the reign of Charlemagne in the 9th century.

Fortification of the town of Vire, north of the castle, was started around 1250 and completed around 1310. By then the walls of the castle were connected to the town walls and the castle formed an integral part of its defenses.

The town, becoming prosperous at the end of the Middle Ages, was pillaged in 1368 by a 'Free Company' (a roaming army of unemployed mercenaries) during the Hundred Years' War. It was occupied by the English from 1418 until 1450.

In 1633, during the reign of Louis XIII of France, because a number of medieval castles served as hideouts during rebellions (by the Huguenots in particular), the castle was dismantled on orders of Cardinal Richelieu. Although the castle had been falling into ruin since the end of the 16th century, it still took 6 months to dismantle it.

The square keep, protected on 3 sides by an escarpment, had been built on an ideal site and only needed protection on the northern side. This had been done by erecting an inner enclosure with 3 towers and an outer enclosure with another 3 towers and a two-towered gate building. Due to the dismantling nothing of this remains but a part of the keep.

At present Vire Tower stands in a small town park. The grounds of its former enclosures are now used as a car park. The tower ruin can freely be viewed. A nice but simple ruin.


Gallery