Château d'Angers

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The Château d'Angers is a castle in the city of Angers, in the département of Maine-et-Loire, in France.

The fortress of Angers, on a rocky ridge overhanging the river Maine, was one of the sites inhabited by the Romans because of its strategic defensive location.

In the 9th century, the fortress came under the authority of the powerful Counts of Anjou, becoming part of the Angevin empire of the Plantagenet Kings of England during the 12th century. In 1204, the region was conquered by Philip II and an enormous château was built during the minority of his grandson, Louis IX ("Saint Louis") in the early part of the 13th century.

Nearly 600 m (2,000 ft) in circumference, and protected by seventeen massive towers, the walls of the château encompass 6.17 acres (25,000 m²). Two pairs of towers form the city and landward entrances of the château. Each of the towers was once 40 metres in height, but they were later cut down for the use of artillery pieces. The Tour du Moulin is the only tower which conserves the original elevation.

In 1352, John II le Bon, gave the château to his son, Louis I. Married to the daughter of the wealthy Duke of Brittany, Louis had the château modified, and in 1373 commissioned the famous Apocalypse Tapestry from the painter Hennequin de Bruges and the Parisian tapestry-weaver Nicolas Bataille.

Louis II (Louis I's son) and Yolande d'Aragon added a chapel (1405–12) and royal apartments to the complex. The chapel is a sainte chapelle, the name given to churches which enshrined a relic of the Passion. The relic at Angers was a splinter of the fragment of the True Cross which had been acquired by Louis IX.

In the early 15th century, the hapless dauphin who, with the assistance of Joan of Arc would become King Charles VII, had to flee Paris and was given sanctuary at the château in Angers.

In 1562, Catherine de' Medici had the château restored as a powerful fortress, but, her son, Henry III, reduced the height of the towers and had the towers and walls stripped of their embattlements; Henry III used the castle stones to build streets and develop the village of Angers. Nonetheless, under threat of attacks from the Huguenots, the king maintained the château's defensive capabilities by making it a military outpost and by installing artillery on the château's upper terraces. At the end of the 18th century, as a military garrison, it showed its worth when its thick walls withstood a massive bombardment by cannons from the Vendean army. Unable to do anything else, the invaders simply gave up.

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