The royal Fortress in 10 Key Dates

Forteresse Royale de Chinon

In the Middle-Ages, the Royal Fortress of Chinon was one of the few fortified castles Loire valley.

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The site of the fortress was occupied for three thousand years, as revealed by recent archaeological excavations. The local were not known until the end of the Gallic period. At this time, a Gallic warrior aristocrat settled his home on Fort St. George. The property owner was buried in front, with his great sword, a privilege granted by Caesar to veterans of his native auxiliary units. In Gallo-Roman times, Chinon was a small town. Stone buildings were constructed in elevated areas, as well as more modest mud dwellings. Then, in the context of the end of the Roman Empire, the promontory was fortified and became a castrum, as mentioned by the historian Gregory of Tours.


The promontory, fortified in the 5th century, continued to be occupied during the Merovingian and Carolingian eras. Large buried silos and utilitarian buildings from this period have been found. Chinon housed a royal mint during the 7th and 8th centuries. It was transferred to Tours from 920 to 954 due to the Viking threat. In the 10th century, the fortress was held by the Counts of Blois, great vassals of the King of France. Theobald 1st, called the "Trickster" (le Tricheur), became count around 942 and remained until 974. Theobald had the first stone tower of the fortress built in 954. He surrounded it with a separate enclosure isolating it from the old castrum.

Fulk IV fortified the Fortress of Chinon. He wrote the history of the counts of Anjou, the first historical account of this dynasty.


The Fortress of Chinon is at the center of the continental possessions of the King of England, Henry II Plantagenet, who became master of an empire stretching from Scotland to the Pyrenees in 1154. He used it to store part of the royal treasury. He frequently stayed there between 1160 and 1180. His great achievement in Chinon is the construction of the palace of Fort St. George. Located east of the old fortress, it was more convenient to house an ever-expanding administration.


Abandoned by his children that he was unable and unwilling to share his power with, sick and on the run from Philip Augustus, Henry II Plantagenet died in the Fortress of Chinon in 1189. Accompanied by his illegitimate son Geoffroy, the only one who remained loyal to him, the body was transported to Fontevraud Abbey to be buried there. Richard finally king, comes quickly to salute the remains of his father, as a matter of form. Fontevraud became the necropolis of the Plantagenets: Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lion Heart were also buried there.

This film evokes the confrontation between the Plantagenet kings of England and the Capetian kings of France, at the turn of the XIIthe and XIIIth century. The taking of the Forteress of Chinon by the king of France in 1205 was a turning point in this conflict.


Between June and August 1308, Chinon Castle was the scene of an important event in the history of the Templars. The episode was part of a power struggle between Philip the Fair, King of France, and Pope Clement V. Several months after ordering the arrest of all its members, Philip the Fair agreed to send seventy-five Templars before the pope in Poitiers. But along the way, the king held four of the order's dignitaries at at Chinon, including the Grand Master Jacques de Molay, in order to derail any attempt of absolution by the pontiff. The pope then decided to send three cardinals to Chinon Castle charged with interrogating the dignitaries in order to bring them back to the Catholic Church. The Parchment of Chinon is the authenticated deed that resulted from this interview.


Joan of Arc came to meet Charles VII at Chinon Castle. This famous episode from the Joan of Arc saga is generally described as a mythical and miraculous scene: "The Recognition". This is not true, because there was not one, but two interviews at Chinon. The first took place on February 25, 1429, two days after Joan's arrival. She was led to the apartments of the King, where he met with her in a small committee. She was housed in the dungeon of Coudray. Then Charles VII sent her to Poitiers so his advisers and doctors of theology could judge her good faith. On his return, Joan was again received by the king, between March 27 and April 5, 1429. This second hearing called the "sign", took the official and public aspect generally attributed to the first interview. It marked the end of the investigation of Poitiers and serves as Joan's official presentation.


From the XVIIth century, the Fortress of Chinon no longer has a strategic role and is abandoned in favor of more modern castles. In 1824, despite the danger of the site, the Fortress park is turned into a public promenade. The circuit has a mulberry tree nursery and a lawn on the grounds of the great hall in the ruins. In 1840, the fortress was listed as an historic monument, but the ruins remained dangerous and the municipality requested that the buildings be demolished in 1854. The decisive intervention by Prosper Merimee marked the beginning of the restoration work


Between the early 2000's and 2010, the fortress underwent extensive rebuilding: restoration of the ramparts and the royal house, construction of a new building to house the ticket office / shop. This work was preceded and accompanied, between 2003 and 2010, by unprecedented archaeological excavations which enabled a complete historical renewal. A visitors circuit with many interactive devices was proposed

Forteresse royale de Chinon
Credits: Story

Conseil Départemental d'Indre-et-Loire
Christophe Raimbault - CD 37
Joël Pairis - CD 37
Michaël Sellier - CD 37
Frédéric Casanova
Benjamin Silvestre

Credits: All media
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