The castles of Châlus-Maulmont and Châlus-Chabrol

Château de Châlus Chabrol : tour ronde et corps de logis
Château de Châlus Chabrol : tour ronde et corps de logis (photo Office de tourisme des Monts de Châlus)

Châlus-Chabrol is one of the principal castles of the territory of the Monts de Châlus, and certainly the most symbolic. It is situated on the left bank of the Tardoire and the town of Châlus developed around it. It stands on a rocky outcrop that overlooks three very ancient trade routes.

The first castle was constructed in the 11th century by the Chabrols, a family of local lords. The castle became the centre of a castellany (the lordship of a castle and its territory) within the Viscounty of Limoges. The original castle building enclosed the houses of about ten minor knights. At this time, the castles in Limousin were often fortified collections of houses belonging to various families of knight and lords. These castles were often run as co-lordships.

The castle of Châlus-Chabrol experienced a number of sieges, including that of 1199, which brought Richard the Lionheart to Limousin to fight against the viscounts of Limoges. His army laid siege to the castle and it was while inspecting the siege works that the king was hit by a crossbow bolt, probably fired by a Limousin knight called Pierre Basile. The king died of his wound.

In this period, the castle would have been very different from today, when there remain very few traces of the castle of the 11th and 12th centuries. Among these can be seen the remains of the church of Notre Dame, annexed to the Parish of Pageas since the 11th century. A number of towers and other buildings would also have existed, but they have now disappeared. The arrow that killed Richard the Lionheart was fired from one of these buildings.

The present remains, including the tall round tower, date back to the 13th century when the castle had been rebuilt according to the latest innovations in design. The round tower in the centre can be dated to the beginning of the 13th century, that is, just after Richard’s death. Later, in 1265, the castle experienced another siege, led by Bozon de Bourdeilles against Adémar de Maulmont who held it in the name of the viscount of Limoges. Adémar was killed during the taking of the castle. After receiving compensation for the murder of his brother and the rights to the lordship of Châlus, Géraud de Maulmont became proprietor of the castle.

This powerful figure, close to the viscounts of Limoges and the kings of France, was also the founder of Châlucet-haut, situated in the Commune of Solignac where one can still admire the size of the castle that he built. At Châlus, he set about numerous building projects, including the construction of a second castle, Châlus-Maulmont, where he received Marie de Comborn, also known as Marie de Limoges. She had recently become Viscountess of Limoges, partly thanks to the support of Géraud de Maulmont who was one of her principal allies. He also undertook a reconstruction of Châlus-Chabrol, in particular the main living accommodation in the south-west corner. Part of it is still visible.

Corps de logis de Châlus Maulmont
Corps de logis de Châlus Maulmont (photo Office de tourisme des Monts de Châlus)

Géraud de Maulmont also had a second castle built on the other bank of the Tardoire. Châlus-Maulmont originally consisted of a large rectangular building flanked by two round towers diagonally opposite each other. The large building in the centre must have been originally the living accommodation for the Lords of Maulmont. In fact, it was probably more of a garrison than a home, the lords of Châlus preferring Châlus-Chabrol. There was also a chapel and the whole was encircled by a curtain wall, of which one can see traces in the modern houses nearby.

In 1307, the Maulmont family inheritance was challenged. The King of France, Philip the Fair, altered the inheritance of the Maulmont heirs and gave the two castles to his advisor Henry de Sully. At the end of the 14th century, the two places fell under the control of the La Trémoille family, and then the Albret family, also viscounts of Limoges, who lived there part of the time in the 15th century. In the 16th century they became the property of the Bourbon-Bussets. It was they, followed by the Bourbon-Châlus, a cadet branch of the family, who were the lords of Châlus until the Revolution. They improved the castle of Châlus-Chabrol by constructing a new building for living accommodation more in keeping with its time, after the old medieval castle had been partly destroyed during the Wars of Religion.

During the Revolution, the two castles again suffered much damage. In the 19th century, Châlus-Maulmont served as a prison. During the 20th century the castle of Châlus-Maulmont fell into disrepair. The roof of the main building collapsed in the 1920s, and the top of the last tower in 1994. In the 1980s Châlus-Maulmont again became the property of the Maulmont family who are trying to restore it.

The castle of Châlus-Chabrol is open to visitors in the summer.

Visites

Le château de Châlus Chabrol se visite.

Il est ouvert du 1er juin au 31 août, tous les jours sauf le lundi, de 10h 30 à 12h 30 et de 14h 30 à 18h.

Tarifs: 3 euros pour la visite libre– 5 euros pour la visite commentée. Gratuit pour les moins de 12 ans.

Renseignements au 05.55.31.88.88.