Mehun-sur-Yèvre castle, Jean de Berry's royal colossus

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The castle - © / CC-BY-NC-SA The castle - © / CC-BY-NC-SA
Mehun-sur-Yèvre castle Castle Jean I de Berry

Jean de Berry

A feudal clod existed here since the 9th century. Oh, just a simple fortress made of wood and stone… In 1209, the Courtenay owned the fief and raised a real stronghold.

Mehun then fell to Jean of Luxembourg, king of Bohemia, then to Jean duke of Normandy. This one’s son-in-law was king of France Jean the Fair. Jean had a son. He was Jean de Berry, born in 1340. He was appointed duke in 1360 and he became an art sponsor.

He owned in his palaces (especially in Mehun) a gorgeous collection of art, including an amazing library with 300 precious books, full of illuminations and decorated with gems… The duke had his court in Bourges. But near Bourges, he had his nice castle of Mehun, his favourite estate!

Dammartin’s big site

So, daddy gave Mehun to his son in 1360: Jean re-raised everything, with his architect Guy de Dammartin: a big name! So, Jean didn’t hesitate to entrust him a very hard task: to transform the old fortress into a comfortable and luxury dwelling.

The difficulty was that the castle was raised on a very narrow promontory: Dammartin could not nor extend it, neither raze it to raise a brand new one (that was the duke’s conditions). What to do??

To raise something upright! Between 1367 and 1390, Dammartin opened magnificent high mullioned windows, added delicate machicolations and very, very high roofs crowned by weathercocks. The result? An amazing lace decoration!

The Très Riches Heures

In short, Mehun became a master-piece: duke Philippe of Burgundy even said to his architects to visit the castle, to draw some inspiration...

We can see the castle’s representation in the famous book Les Très riches heures du duc de Berry (today displays in the musée Condé, Chantilly). We can see the delicate castle, with its high towers, covered with sculptures, linked by a covered way.

The duke even created a menagerie full of wild beasts, at the bottom of the fortress. The water from the river Yèvre used to be deep moats...

And also!