The mottes of Mazaubrun

The mottes of Mazaubrun can be found near to Châlus on either side of the road in the direction of Bussière-Galant. They are a group of six motte and bailey castles, built probably in the 10th and 11th centuries. The site was establised close to an intersection between several ancient roads. The name is perhaps a reference to the Brun family who might have had a residence there before moving to Montbrun.

These mottes were artificial mounds of earth which were designed to serve as a base for a castle, or at least quite an imposing tower. These were built in wood, which explains why it is only the mottes that remain. They were the forerunners of the stone castles that later characterise the Middle Ages. These mottes surmounted by towers were probably surrounded by a wooden palisade that enclosed the residences of the lords of the place and their entourages.

The wooden towers rarely served as houses, except in the very largest versions. The tower served as a lookout, and in particular as a symbol of the power of the lord over his domain. The motte and bailey castles were built by lesser feudal lords who had insufficient resources to build houses in stone, The great lords had themselves begun to build castles in stone from the beginning of the 11th century ( like the castle of Fulk Nerra at Loches).

Most of the time, a motte and bailey castle contained only one motte, sometimes two. But at Mazaubrun, at least six mottes are visible, which is exceptional. This is probably explained by the existence of a co-lordship in this place, consisting of several lords. Each family would have had its own motte to symbolise its status as co-lord.

Little is known of the history of the mottes of Mazaubrun, other than that they were very quickly eclipsed by the castle of Châlus-Chabrol. In the 13th century records speak of them only as a “refuge”, perhaps for the people of Châlus in the event of an invasion.