Talmont Castle - Vendée - France
There has been a fortress on this site for more than 1000 years. Before the sea receded, Talmont would have been a port and so it would have been natural to build its castle with stone from the nearby coast. If you examine the walls even today you will see that the majority of the stones are well rounded by the sea's erosion. The present castle is built on top of a rock promontory and is separated from the old village to the north by a large and deep dry moat.
The first wooden structure was built on the site upon a mound or motte around the year 1025 in the higher part of the town. Naturally it wasn't long before it became clear that a wooden structure would be much too vulnerable to attack and so it was decided to build a stone castle upon the rocky outcrop in around the year 1049. A large curtain wall was constructed along with the tower and a keep. The spiral staircase was also added to give access to upper floors.
From 1152 to 1204 the castle was owned by the English, and King Richard the Lionheart spent a lot of time hunting in the nearby woods. One of the titles which was conferred upon Richard in 1186 was 'Lord of Talmont' and he made considerable improvements to the castle in terms of fortification including a new outer wall with flanking towers and an inner wall separating the Bailey from the Lord's court. He added the long space to the east of the Bell Tower known as the “room of beams” for access to different floors and to protect the tower. He also added protection to the north by means of a triangular spur. Click to enlarge photo
During the Hundred years War the castle was the property of the Princes of La Trémoille and was spared damage but it did suffer a lot during the religious wars a couple of centuries later. It was in October 1628 that Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu ordered the demolition of the stronghold in order to make sure that French Protestants and the English would not take refuge there. Following this, the site was used by the general public as a sort of stone quarry to provide material for new housing and a lot of the site became overgrown with vegetation.
Today The Castle at Talmont is one of the vendée's most attractive and interesting medieval castle attractions.