≡ Menu

Medieval Castles

Legends of Château de Gisors

GisorsCastleThe castle in the town of Gisors was originally built to protect Normandy from the territorial claims of the French crown. It ceased being a frontier fortress after the surrounding area fell into the hands of the King of France at the end of the 12th century. For a castle that has never been formally held by the Knights Templar, Château de Gisors has many ties to the medieval Order.

In 1158, a group of three Templar Knights was appointed to maintain castles Gisors and Neafle as a part of the dowry for Marguerite, the infant daughter of King Louis VII of France. Her eventual marriage to Henry, the infant son of King II of England, was supposed to forge ties between the two kingdoms. The names of the three Templars were: Robert de Pirou, Tostes de Saint Omer and Richard of Hastings. When in 1161 King Henry II decided to bring the wedding date forward and take over the castle, along with surrounding areas, the Templar guardians happily surrendered Gisors. King Louis was furious over this act and immediately exiled the knights. This so-called Gisors affair is well attested by Roger of Hoveden:

Shortly after this period, Henry, king of England, caused his son Henry to be married to Margaret, the daughter of the king of France, although they were as yet but little children, crying in the cradle; Robert de Pirou, Tostes de Saint Omer, and Richard de Hastings, the Templars who had custody of the said castles, being witnesses and consenting thereto; immediately upon which they surrendered those castles to the king of England. In consequence, the king of France was extremely indignant at them, and banished these knights from the kingdom of France, upon which the king of England received them and rewarded them with many honors.

This event may not have been the scandal of the decade, but it caused enough interest to produce a related legend, according to which the King of France apprehended the three Knights Templar and had them hanged on a tree. This dark and curious addition to the story was probably invented much later to “foreshadow” the future rift between the Order and the Kings of France. This connection is especially important because early in the 14th century the castle in Gisors served as prison for many Knights Templar, including reputedly the last Grand Master of the Order, Jacques de Molay.

Although official Knights Templar presence at Gisors amounts to only a few years, the castle is viewed as a possible location of the much rumored Templar treasure. In the 20th century a man by the name of Roger Lhomoy claimed to have excavated areas underneath the castle’s keep. Supposedly Lhomoy discovered a hidden vault with many religious statues, sarcophagi and metal coffers. Needless to say, no one else has ever been able to verify Lhomoy’s findings.

Image by Nitot.

See also:
Famous Templars
Knights Templar treasure

The last Templar of Château de Maulmont (Puy-de-Dôme)

Château de Maulmont (Puy-de-Dôme)The Knights Templar castle in Maulmont was one of the Order’s strongholds in Auvergne (a region in south central France). There are presently no medieval structures left from this castle and the site features a modern château-style hotel (photo on the left).

There is an interesting local legend connected to this castle. When the Order of the Knights Templar was dissolved by Pope Clement V in 1312 many of its members were hunted down, executed or exiled. Château de Maulmont was abandoned, but one Templar managed to remain in the castle. It was there that he lived out his days in secrecy. Only at night the solitary chevalier used to come out to pray in front of the cross that was installed on the edge of the woods surrounding the castle.

Legends of the Bézu Castle in Languedoc

bezu-templar-castle-ruinsAlthough the Bézu Castle in Languedoc was primarily a Cathar stronghold, it has been popularly linked to the Knights Templar. Indeed, the association of at least one of the castle’s lords, Bernard Sermon I, with the Templars has factual basis. Bernard joined the Poor Knights of Christ in 1151, most likely as a confrere. Having become a major benefactor of the Order he was able to partake in the Templars’ spiritual life. It is documented that in 1156 skilled workers appeared in the vicinity of the castle in order to explore local mountains in search for precious metals. Supposedly the area became a source for some of the Templar silver and gold. According to another legend, the Knights Templar, in attempt to save some of their possessions from the king,  cast a large silver bell and hid it underground. Every year the knelling of this bell can be heard at night on the eve of October 13, when pale shadows appear from the graveyard and proceed to gather at the castle, mourning the demise of the powerful military order.

The proximity  of Bézu to Rennes-le-Château adds to the mystique of the place. In fact, it may easily be that the legends about Bérenger Saunière and his treasures were reinforced by the presense of mysterious ruins only 4 miles away.

Castle for sale. Amsterdam, NY.

upstatecastlefront1200Castle for sale in upstate New York. Built for the National Guard in 1894. I actually remember seeing this property on one of HGTV shows. The baron’s family must have fallen on hard times. The price is right at $1,000,000.

The Amsterdam Castle is now used as a 36,000 square foot private residence Listed on the National Register of historic places, this magnificent facility has 50 rooms, including a 10,000 sq ft ballroom, a rifle range, and a fallout shelter and billiard room. It is currently used as a living and commercial space, featuring 4 turrets, 3 living wings, elegant reception rooms, and a terrace. The building has a 10-car garage, onsite parking for 40 and ample street parking.”

Never mind the Victorian entourage. It would actually be neat if this building went to some collector/reenactor type. I might rent a vault to store my secret archives!

See also:
Italian Castle for sale