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French poet Ronsard and Hélène de Surgères

Ronsard | ÖNB / Public domain
Fortification Love story Pierre de Ronsard Hélène de Fonsèque Surgères fortifications

In the 16th century, the 600 metres long surrounding walls was flanked by 20 towers, protected by a deep ditch. Inside those walls, near the castle, we found the church and a small village.

This fortress was founded in the 9th century, by the Maingot de Surgères lords, mentioned for the first time in 903.

The city was many times besieged: first, in 1346, when count of Derby and his troops seized the castle.

Then, in 1371, famous French warrior Du Guesclin ousted the English! In 1570, Protestants besieged Surgères.

After the Maingot family, the Clermont d'Hauteville family then the Fonsèque family (Charles de Fonsèque rebuilt the fortress in 1576 after wars of religion) turned up.

But we keep the memory of pretty Hélène de Fonsèque, Catherine of Medici's lady-in-waiting.

French poet Ronsard fell in love with her! He wrote:

Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle, assise auprès du feu, devisant et filant, direz, chantez mes vers en vous émerveillant: Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j'étais belle

Which means:

When you'll be very old, at night, by candle light, sitting near the fireplace, chatting and spinning, singing my verses, you'll say: I was Ronsard's muse, long ago, when I was young and fair...

In 1600, castle of Surgères fell to the la Rochefoucauld family by marriage; those one sold it in 1832 and the city owned it in 1856. Nowadays, it houses the city hall!

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!