Château d’Airvault | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Château d’Airvault

Airvault, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

About Château d’Airvault

The Château d’Airvault is a medieval castle situated
in the French commune of Airvault in the département of Deux-Sèvres and
the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It is considered to be
“one of the rare remaining specimens of military architecture of the 11th
century”.

Airvault includes the listed monuments of the
Saint-Pierre Abbey and church. The town is dominated by the castle built on a
hill. In the Middle Ages, this strategic position made it an important part of
the powerful defensive system of the town. The castle was constructed on an earlier castrum. It was besieged and conquered in 1207 by Philip II of France.

The remains of the former castle were inscribed as a monument
historique
on 3 October 1929 and classified on 4 September 2007 for the
enceinte and its towers, the remains of the barbican and the grounds.

The Château d’Airvault is considered by the historian Henri
Bodin as “one of the rare remaining specimens of military architecture of
the 11th century”. From this time, there remains the enceinte with its two
uncrowned towers and its keep whose well-preserved silhouette marks the urban
landscape. The 14th- and 15th-century buildings inside the enceinte
replaced in the original buildings.

According to Bodin, the castle was built on the site of the
former Gallic oppidum and the builders of the castle were inspired by the
square towers of this old oppidum and the way to put them on the ramparts. It is
this peculiarity of construction which makes it possible to date the castle of
Airvault at least to the 11th century.

The castle has an enceinte whose crenellation was leveled in the
1940s. Two quadrangular towers added obliquely to the corners of the enceinte
on the ramparts are dated to the 13th or 14th century. The rectangular châtelet, defended by a bretèche and hoardings, is pierced by a door with a portcullis
and murder hole giving access to the court.

The main dwelling of the 15th century is located along the west
curtain wall. Among the outbuildings are the prison with its two vaulted cells
lit by an arrowslit and a stable.