Pierrefonds Castle

Pierrefonds Castle, locally known as Château de Pierrefonds, lies in the village of the same name, in the Oise department in France.

The first castle at this site, a rock above the village, dated back to the 11th century and was owned by the Nivelon family. Their stronghold and seigniory was purchased by Philippe Auguste (King Philip II of France) at the end of the 12th century after which it stayed in the royal domain. In 1300 it was visited by Philippe le Bel (King Philip IV of France) who liked the place and so returned in 1307, 1308 and 1310.

In 1392, the 2nd son of Charles V of France; Louis, Duke of Orléans, recieved the castle, amongst other properties, from his father. Then the original castle was razed and a new, much larger, castle was built at the end of the 14th century, during the Hundred Years' War. When finished Pierrefonds Castle was a veritable fortress and an example of the most modern techniques of defense of its time. The castle then served to guard routes between Flanders and Burgundy, ruled by the Dukes of Burgundy, rivals of the Dukes of Orléans.

The Burgundians besieged Pierrefonds Castle in 1405 and again in 1411, this time successfully. It was returned, damaged, to the Charles, Duke of Orléans in 1413. In 1415, during the Battle of Agincourt, Charles was taken captive by the English. The garrison at Pierrefonds resisted attacks by English forces until 1420 when they surrendered due to harsh winter conditions and famine. Charles, who was held captive in England for 25 years, returned in 1440 and had the castle restored.

In 1588 Pierrefonds was occupied by troops of the French Catholic League. They repulsed several attacks and the castle only returned to the royal domain in 1594 in return for ransom. In 1595, the castle was taken by a force of about a 1000 Neapolitans and Walloons sent by Philip II of Spain. It was then sold to Antoine d'Estrées, governor of Île-de-France, who negotiated the sale for the French king. Antoine was then entrusted with the castle.

In 1617 owner of Pierrefonds was the son of Antoine, who was member of a party of malcontent nobles who opposed the King. Cardinal Richelieu then had the castle besieged with the use of artillery and after breaching the walls it was taken. To prevent the castle for any future use against the French Crown it was then thoroughly demolished and abandoned as a ruin.

The French king Louis Philippe I used the romantic ruins of the castle as the site of a banquet on occasion of the marriage of his daughter Louise with Leopold I of Belgium.

In 1857 the Emperor Napoleon III wanted to partly rebuilt Pierrefonds Castle as his holiday residence. The famous architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was employed and works started the next year. In 1862 plans changed and the decision was made to rebuild the entire castle so it could be used as a royal residence. Three years later it was decided that the castle, once completed, would become a museum. Viollet-le-Duc then worked on rebuilding the castle until his death in 1879. For the exterior of the castle he more-or-less followed the historical design, for its interior he used his imagination to create a castle like he thought it ought to have been and used modern techniques, like steel and heating. After his death, building continued until it stopped in 1885, due to a shortage of finances. Hence most of the interior of the castle is empty.

At present Pierrefonds Castle is a national museum which can be visited for a fee. It might sometimes be overrun with tourists but this is a truly beautiful castle. Recommended.


Gallery

Pierrefonds Castle

Pierrefonds Castle, locally known as Château de Pierrefonds, lies in the village of the same name, in the Oise department in France.

The first castle at this site, a rock above the village, dated back to the 11th century and was owned by the Nivelon family. Their stronghold and seigniory was purchased by Philippe Auguste (King Philip II of France) at the end of the 12th century after which it stayed in the royal domain. In 1300 it was visited by Philippe le Bel (King Philip IV of France) who liked the place and so returned in 1307, 1308 and 1310.

In 1392, the 2nd son of Charles V of France; Louis, Duke of Orléans, recieved the castle, amongst other properties, from his father. Then the original castle was razed and a new, much larger, castle was built at the end of the 14th century, during the Hundred Years' War. When finished Pierrefonds Castle was a veritable fortress and an example of the most modern techniques of defense of its time. The castle then served to guard routes between Flanders and Burgundy, ruled by the Dukes of Burgundy, rivals of the Dukes of Orléans.

The Burgundians besieged Pierrefonds Castle in 1405 and again in 1411, this time successfully. It was returned, damaged, to the Charles, Duke of Orléans in 1413. In 1415, during the Battle of Agincourt, Charles was taken captive by the English. The garrison at Pierrefonds resisted attacks by English forces until 1420 when they surrendered due to harsh winter conditions and famine. Charles, who was held captive in England for 25 years, returned in 1440 and had the castle restored.

In 1588 Pierrefonds was occupied by troops of the French Catholic League. They repulsed several attacks and the castle only returned to the royal domain in 1594 in return for ransom. In 1595, the castle was taken by a force of about a 1000 Neapolitans and Walloons sent by Philip II of Spain. It was then sold to Antoine d'Estrées, governor of Île-de-France, who negotiated the sale for the French king. Antoine was then entrusted with the castle.

In 1617 owner of Pierrefonds was the son of Antoine, who was member of a party of malcontent nobles who opposed the King. Cardinal Richelieu then had the castle besieged with the use of artillery and after breaching the walls it was taken. To prevent the castle for any future use against the French Crown it was then thoroughly demolished and abandoned as a ruin.

The French king Louis Philippe I used the romantic ruins of the castle as the site of a banquet on occasion of the marriage of his daughter Louise with Leopold I of Belgium.

In 1857 the Emperor Napoleon III wanted to partly rebuilt Pierrefonds Castle as his holiday residence. The famous architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was employed and works started the next year. In 1862 plans changed and the decision was made to rebuild the entire castle so it could be used as a royal residence. Three years later it was decided that the castle, once completed, would become a museum. Viollet-le-Duc then worked on rebuilding the castle until his death in 1879. For the exterior of the castle he more-or-less followed the historical design, for its interior he used his imagination to create a castle like he thought it ought to have been and used modern techniques, like steel and heating. After his death, building continued until it stopped in 1885, due to a shortage of finances. Hence most of the interior of the castle is empty.

At present Pierrefonds Castle is a national museum which can be visited for a fee. It might sometimes be overrun with tourists but this is a truly beautiful castle. Recommended.


Gallery