A giant and a Sforza underground in Loches Martelet

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Ludovico's jail - ©Anecdotrip.com / CC-BY-NC-SA Ludovico's jail - ©Anecdotrip.com / CC-BY-NC-SA
Loches keep Castle Castle of the Loire Valley Imprisonment Ludovico Sforza Legend

The atmosphere which reigns here in the Martelet is pretty oppressive, perfectly sinister! Do you hear the prisoners’ sighs, their screams, their endless tortures?...

The crumbled giant

We find cells here. And in the earth’s depths, a former tuffeau quarry; tuffeau is a French white stone from Touraine (the châteaux de la Loire are made of this).

Well, since we are here, here’s a little story… in 1500, the castle’s governor Pontbriand decided to search through the keep. He opened every doors, he walked as far as he could in the darkness… Until he arrived in a jail, pretty gloomy… where stood a man.

A man!! Hey, no doubt! There was a man, a giant man, sitting here, his head in his hands… But some fresh air entered in the little room, hermetically closed since centuries.

So, the man’s body suddenly disintegrated under the flabbergasted eyes of the governor. A little heap of bones only remained… The legend says that they kept the remains in the castle’s church, during centuries.

Ludovico’s jail

Paintings on walls

A VIP’s jail, whoa! The one of Ludovico Sforza, nicknamed the Moor, duke of Milan! He was taken prisoner at the battle of Novare in Italy, by the French general La Trémouille, in 1500. He stayed 10 years in Loches.

Which gave us those paintings he drew on the walls, with what he had at hand, like egg’s yellow! And he wrote lots of things. We read: celui qui n'est pas contan (″The one who’s not happy″) and fortune je né pas (″I’m not rich″), flank by stars and cords.

Above the fireplace, we have his portrait, surrounds by feathers: we recognized pretty well his aquiline nose, his prominent chin, and his helmet on his head!


Imagine Ludovico’s life... he rot here 10 years! The jail’s wall is 4 metres thick, and a tiny window gives a very dim light. Impossible to know what time it was… So, in front of the window, he engraved a sun dial. And he had his own private latrine, because he was a royal prisoner...

At the end of his captivity, king Louis XII became more and more mild with Ludovico: he allowed him to have a little stroll every day, for instance… But in 1510, just after his release, Ludovico kicked the bucket.

And also!