Friday, 19 March 2010

The route and castles of Richard the Lionheart

A year ago, just over that now, as we drove south in central France I noticed the magic three little dots on the map that signify a ruin, or maybe a castle, possibly both. Whatever they mean, as far as I'm concerned they are generally worth investigating.

The three dots were marked Châlucet. The signposts on the road offered a choice of Châlus-Chabrol, Châlus-Maulmont, or Chalusset but eventually I found the right one and saw the scene above. The castle ruins loomed out of the trees and mists. Spooky, don't you think? I had to get closer.

After a few detours, we arrived at the right place and found to my satisfaction that it's not just an ordinary ruined castle but one that's on Richard the Lionheart's route, la Route de Richard, Coeur de Lion, as they say around here. It's an impressive sight I must admit, and it is interesting too, to find that there was a connection with Richard I of England.

On reading up the connection of this particular castle with Richard is shaky to say the least. Richard as the third son of Henry II of England, wasn't expected to become king and was raised to be Duke of Aquitaine at his mother's, Eleanor of Aquitaine's, request. This castle and the other points along the route are a collection of medieval of châteaux, churches and fortified towns along the borders of the Duchy of Aquitaine, which belonged to the Angevins/Plantagents, against the King of France to the north and the Viscount of Toulouse to the south.

The signposted (but ignored) Châlus-Chabrol is on the route, as it might be, as it's the place where Richard died, but its nearby near-namesake, Châlus-Maulmont, has nothing to do with him at all, part from being in the right area in the right era.

On the other hand, Turenne isn't mentioned at all.

The castle and its surrounding area was ruled by the Vicounts of Turenne and was almost an autonomous state.  Richard's brother, Henry, died in a castle nearby in 1193.  It's an interesting place in its own right, and I particularly like its unofficial motto which is all but untranslatable but pleases me nevertheless:
Pompadour pompe, Ventadour vente. Turenne règne. 
Roughly, it could mean that while Turenne rules, Pompadour and Ventadour are full of hot air.  Of course Pompadour and Ventadour are worth visits too.  So many castles, so little time.

Route Richard Coeur de Lion.  Source.

Updated to include a map of the route.  Click to enlarge
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  1. Great photos and commentary, A. I love visiting castles too. Re Richard the Lionheart -- there's a romantic historical figure...

  2. 1st Pic is great. I suppose the land would be cleared around it in the past so it looks better today than it did when operating.

  3. @YTSL, yes Richard seems very romantic. Some say a bad king, but really I think a product of the era.

    @Adullamite, I'm sure you're right, it would have been much more exposed. Otherwise there would be far too much cover for passers-by with evil intent.

  4. Oh, old Coeur-de-Lion! I grew up in Austria, not far from the ruins of Castle Dürnstein, where he was held in captivity by Leopold V. You can still visit the cell where he was allegedly held - although in truth he was probably confined to luxurious quarters. Poor Eleanor and even poorer England had to raise a vast sum (65000 pounds of silver!) to ransom Richard, with which Leopold built the city of Wiener Neustadt.

    I really like your first photo, by the way!

  5. There are signs near where I live in France showing the route taken. I can't find a map showing the routes taken.

  6. I've added a map of the route. It's not a convenient round trip, unfortunately.

  7. Thanks. I've uploaded today's 'photo of the "End of Route" here: - The Google map is here: - The Lat. & Long. you can copy / paste into Google Earth is 45°53'34.74"N 000°47'15.22"E -


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