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Semur-en-Auxois Castle

Château de Semur-en-Auxois

Semur-en-Auxois Castle, locally known as Château de Semur-en-Auxois, lies in the town of the same name in the Côte-d'Or department in France.

The town of Semur-en-Auxois was built around a rocky ridge in a meander of the Armançon river. The site was already fortified since at least the 10th century. In 1276 the settlement recieved town privileges from Robert II, Duke of Burgundy, and became the capital of the bailiwick of Auxois. Then Semur-en-Auxois Castle was built, replacing an older fortification.

It was built on the narrowest location of the meander, effectively closing of the rest of the ridge. It was built with a rectangular layout with 4 round corner towers of which the north tower served as the keep. This keep is around 40 meters high and has a wall thickness of around 5 meters at its base. Its design is said to be inspired by the style of French military architecture earlier that century, called "Philippian" after Philippe Auguste (Philip II of France), a cousin of the Duke. The castle was simply called "Le Donjon".

In the early decades of the Hundred Years' War, Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, ordered the castle and town to be strengthened. So, in 1354, this was carried out by Jean de Noyers, governor of Burgundy. Hoards were added at the top of the towers in 1358, by Étienne de Musigny, lieutenant of the governor of Burgundy.

Semur-en-Auxois remained loyal to the Burgundian Dukes, which led to it being taken and occupied by the French troops of Louis XI of France in 1478. Apparently it stayed in royal hands because by the 2nd half of the 16th century, during the French Wars of Religion, the town was loyal to the French King. It was then ocupied by troops from the French Catholic League. They held onto it until 1589 when the town was besieged by a royalist force, led by Guillaume de Saulx, Viscount of Tavannes. The town quickly surrendered, the castle garrison a day later.

In 1602, the French king; Henry IV, ordered the ramparts of the town and the castle to be dismantled. This meant the end of the castle as a fortification. The large vertical crack we can see today on the exterior of the keep is a result of that dismantling.

The keep was formerly known as Lourdeau(lt) Tower, but is now known as the Orle d'Or Tower. After the dismantling it also served as a granary. The west tower was first known as the Butcher's Tower, but is now known as the Géhenne or Pordeau Tower. The east tower was first known as Tour du Pin or Solobert Tower, but is now known as the Prison Tower. The south tower is known as the Margot Tower and is now used for storage by a local theatre. Both the Géhenne and the Margot tower were also used to store salt after the dismantling.

At present the inside of neither of the 4 towers can be visited, as far as I know. Too bad, I am very curious about their interiors. But still, this is a lovely site to visit because of the nice medieval town and its location.


Gallery

previousnext

Semur-en-Auxois Castle

Château de Semur-en-Auxois

Semur-en-Auxois Castle, locally known as Château de Semur-en-Auxois, lies in the town of the same name in the Côte-d'Or department in France.

The town of Semur-en-Auxois was built around a rocky ridge in a meander of the Armançon river. The site was already fortified since at least the 10th century. In 1276 the settlement recieved town privileges from Robert II, Duke of Burgundy, and became the capital of the bailiwick of Auxois. Then Semur-en-Auxois Castle was built, replacing an older fortification.

It was built on the narrowest location of the meander, effectively closing of the rest of the ridge. It was built with a rectangular layout with 4 round corner towers of which the north tower served as the keep. This keep is around 40 meters high and has a wall thickness of around 5 meters at its base. Its design is said to be inspired by the style of French military architecture earlier that century, called "Philippian" after Philippe Auguste (Philip II of France), a cousin of the Duke. The castle was simply called "Le Donjon".

In the early decades of the Hundred Years' War, Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, ordered the castle and town to be strengthened. So, in 1354, this was carried out by Jean de Noyers, governor of Burgundy. Hoards were added at the top of the towers in 1358, by Étienne de Musigny, lieutenant of the governor of Burgundy.

Semur-en-Auxois remained loyal to the Burgundian Dukes, which led to it being taken and occupied by the French troops of Louis XI of France in 1478. Apparently it stayed in royal hands because by the 2nd half of the 16th century, during the French Wars of Religion, the town was loyal to the French King. It was then ocupied by troops from the French Catholic League. They held onto it until 1589 when the town was besieged by a royalist force, led by Guillaume de Saulx, Viscount of Tavannes. The town quickly surrendered, the castle garrison a day later.

In 1602, the French king; Henry IV, ordered the ramparts of the town and the castle to be dismantled. This meant the end of the castle as a fortification. The large vertical crack we can see today on the exterior of the keep is a result of that dismantling.

The keep was formerly known as Lourdeau(lt) Tower, but is now known as the Orle d'Or Tower. After the dismantling it also served as a granary. The west tower was first known as the Butcher's Tower, but is now known as the Géhenne or Pordeau Tower. The east tower was first known as Tour du Pin or Solobert Tower, but is now known as the Prison Tower. The south tower is known as the Margot Tower and is now used for storage by a local theatre. Both the Géhenne and the Margot tower were also used to store salt after the dismantling.

At present the inside of neither of the 4 towers can be visited, as far as I know. Too bad, I am very curious about their interiors. But still, this is a lovely site to visit because of the nice medieval town and its location.


Gallery