The first castle (castrum)
This was founded around 1100. During the 13th century, it was divided into two separate fortifications: Upper and Lower Châlucet.
This remained a manor jointly managed by several lineages of knights. For its part, Upper Châlucet underwent extensive modification around 1270 - 1280 with the creation of a new castle in the middle of it.
Key dates in Châlucet’s history
Châlucet was founded around 1130 by two knights from the Jaunhac family, suzerains of the Viscount of Limoges. Back then, the castrum was managed by several knights (between 20 and 30 families), who were its joint lords. In exchange for their military protection, they received a house, garden and an income paid by the villagers in the surrounding area. A full-scale village developed around the Tower of Jeannette, which was the lower castrum’s keep. We also know that there were outlying districts, gardens, orchards and possibly vineyards.
Today, no visible remains can be seen of the upper castle, built by the Jauhnacs. It is believed that a keep and a manor house once stood there.
The Viscount of Limoges, Guy VI, succeeded in obtaining part of the suzerainty over Châlucet. He died in 1263, after having married Marguerite, the daughter of the powerful Duke of Burgundy in 1258. His right-hand man, Gérault de Maulmont, became his widow’s main adviser. She gave him free reign to run things his way.
The Viscount’s war began in Limousin in 1262. On the one side, stood Limoges and its Limougeauds, who were adamant that their town did not belong to the Viscount of Limoges. On the other stood the Viscount of Limoges, who was just as adamant that it did. Châlucet’s strategic position made it ideal for controlling Limoges and the roads leading there. The castle became an operations centre for the campaign against Limoges’ inhabitants during the Viscount’s War. Guy VI and later Viscountess Marguerite were supported by the King of France, while Limoges’ inhabitants had the support of the Plantagenets, who occupied the whole of Aquitaine.
After putting up a stiff resistance and after having tried to involve their protector the King of England, the people of Limoges finally surrendered the keys of their town to Viscountess Marguerite. She in turn left her rights to Châlucet to Géraud de Maulmont to reward him.
He built a genuine fortified palace on the site of the first upper castle including a barbican, a guard's walkway, machicolations, a portcullis and casements as its main defensive features.
Round turrets were built at each of the castle’s corners. This was a unique monument in the late 13th century, which fittingly expressed the power of its lord and master.
Following Géraud de Maulmont’s death in 1299, the castle passed to one of his heirs.
In 1305, the King of France Philippe IV (known as Philippe le Bel) came into possession of the fortress in Limousin. He never once set foot there and appointed squires to manage the day-to-day affairs.
In 1317, his successor King Philippe V gifted Châlucet to his trusty adviser Henri de Sully.
He did not reside here either. The Sullys changed the castle very little.
During all the turmoil of the Hundred Years’ War, independent warlords referred to as routiers seized several castles in this central region, where the authority of the King of France and that of the King of England (who was still the Duke of Aquitaine at the time) carried little weight. Châlucet and its fine south wall fell into the hands of one of the most powerful routiers, Perrot le Béarnais, who made it one of his lairs.
He regularly launched attacks on the inhabitants of the surrounding areas. The King of France’s army succeeded in getting him to vacate the fortress in 1394 in return for the payment of a huge ransom.
After Le Béarnais’ departure, the Sullys gave the castle to Charles d’Albray. He also appointed squires to run Châlucet.
The squires routinely abused their powers and behaved much like the routiers. Very little maintenance or upkeep took place at Châlucet, which fell into ruins.
Géraud de Maulmont and later Perrot le Béarnais had terrorised the people of Limousin. These local Limousin inhabitants, who had possibly not forgotten the Viscount’s War or the Hundred Years’ War, were now keen to finally eradicate the threat which the nearby castle constantly posed to them. In 1594, at the end of the religious wars, they obtained authorisation to dismantle Châlucet...
100 workers were sent to dismantle the fortress.
In just four days, Châlucet was reduced to a ruin.