Loudun keep: all roads lead to Foulques Nerra, a king in the moats

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The tower - ©Père Igor / CC-BY-SA The tower - ©Père Igor / CC-BY-SA
Loudun keep Fortification Foulques Nerra Charles IX

Foulques Nerra in Loudun!

All roads lead to Loudun

This keep is a pretty rare instance of medieval architecture, the only remain of the former castle raised in the 11th or 12th century to defend the little city of Loudun: counts of Poitou and counts of Anjou often fought over this city.

Oh, by the way, since we’re talking about counts of Anjou, you know what? The square keep was built by the famous Foulques Nerra! His father Geoffroy Grisegonelle (“Grey coat”) just died. Foulques inherited his lands in Touraine, Anjou, Poitou, Loudun included. He was free to extend his estate, and he was ready to fight for this…

But why did they raise a keep at this place? Like Foulques’ other keeps, the one of Loudun was located in a very strategical place, near old roads linking Poitiers to Angers and Poitou to Touraine, his favourites land… From Loudun started several roads leading to his lands, pretty handy! And from the top of the keep, he could keep an eye on enemies’ raids, on this land which is located between Anjou and Touraine…

A king in the moats!

The current tower is about 31 metres high and 5 metres large, with walls 3 metres thick! But you have to imagine a biggest fortress, originally, with 5 drawbridges! We had 4 fortified gates in the rampart, nowadays only remains the porte du Martray. And to defend the city, just imagine a wall 3 kilometres long, protected by moats 8 metres deep!

You know what? In those moats they put a real tennis court: when king of France Charles IX visited Loudun in 1565, he didn’t play to the tennis, no, but he trained himself to crossbow…

Checkmate!

Philip Augustus, at war with John the Lackland, besieged Loudun too, seized the castle and gave it to his neighbour, the viscount of Thouars. Given back to the Crown, Loudun became a royal fortress and so, an important place in Poitou!

War of religion disturbed a lot Loudun castle: we witnessed a surge of protestants’ conversion. Many Huguenots took over the fortress, but not for long... massacres, pillage, destructions took place, then Catholics retook Loudun, then Protestants, and so on until the end of war... In the 17th century, Richelieu decided to destroy every medieval and useless fortress in France, Loudun included...


And also!