Foulque Nerra’s château
Around the year 1000, two great lords, the Count of Anjou, Foulques Nerra, and the Count of Blois, Eudes I, fought over the Touraine. At the end of the 10th century, Foulques Nerra conquered Langeais, between Tours and Saumur, and founded a fortress on the promontory overhanging the Loire. A turbulent history then began for Langeais, in turn occupied by the Counts of Blois and of Anjou. With the rest of the Touraine, Langeais finally remained in the hands of the House of Anjou then the Angevin dynasty of the House of Plantagenet until the end of the 12th century. In 1206, Langeais became part of the Crown lands of France following the French king Philippe Auguste’s victories. During the Hundred Years War, armed bands occupied the fortress. Charles VII bought it in 1422, then ordered that it be destroyed, except for the keep. That keep, moreover, is one of the oldest in stone still standing today.
Louis XI’s castle
In 1465, Louis XI decided to have a new château built in Langeais. Its architecture reflects the changes taking place as the 15th century drew to a close. On the town side, the façade has all the attributes of a fortified castle : huge towers, drawbridge, parapet walk on machicolations. However, the edifice is no longer a veritable fortress. On the courtyard side, the façade corresponds to what a king or a lord would have wanted from his residence: a pleasant place to live, opening to the outside through beautiful windows. Construction lasted two years. The work had been entrusted to Jean Bourré, the king’s faithful advisor, and to Jean Briçonnet, also close to the king and, at the time, mayor of Tours. In July 1466, Louis XI ceded the château to his cousin, Dunois, the son of Joan of Arc’s companion.
A historic marriage
In one of the great halls of Dunois’s château, in the presence of a small gathering of people, the wedding of Charles VIII of France and Anne of Brittany took place, at dawn on December 6, 1491. This marriage marked the beginning of the incorporation of the duchy of Brittany into the French kingdom. The contract granted the spouses mutual rights over the duchy; in addition, Anne promised to wed, if the king died without a son, the new sovereign. Which is exactly what happened: the royal couple’s children died at birth or at an early age. Charles VIII died in 1498 at the château of Amboise. Anne of Brittany then married Charles VIII’s cousin, Louis d’Orléans, who reigned under the name Louis XII.
Jacques Siegfried and the rebirth of Langeais
Roland Recht, art historian and member of the Institut de France, has been the château’s curator since January 2013. The Jacques Siegfried Foundation, bequeathed to the Institut de France, chose in 2005 the Kléber Rossillon corporation to handle the management of the Château de Langeais until 2020. Kléber Rossillon devotes a great part of its time to conserving and making known this heritage. For more information about the Kléber Rossillon corporation, please consult the web site : http://www.kleber-rossillon.com/
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