Château d'Ivry-la-Bataille

Château d'Ivry-la-Bataille


Location: d'Ivry-la-Bataille, Eure département  Map

Constructed: 10th- 13th century


Description of Château d'Ivry-la-Bataille

Château d'Ivry-la-Bataille is situated in d'Ivry-la-Bataille, Eure département of France. This medieval citadel was constructed in the end of the 10th century by Alberede, wife of Raoul d'Ivry. Military fortress of Château d'Ivry-la-Bataille was designed to protect this strategic region of Normandy that was a site of many battles between the French and the invading armies from England. It became a valuable possession during the Hundred Years War. In 1418 it was captured by the English after a siege that lasted for 40 days. In 1424 the French managed to retake the fort, but only briefly. The English soldiers took the castle again, but instead of defending they destroyed upper stories of the buildings so it couldn't be used by the enemy. Nothing but ruins were left on this site as it was became a quarry site for local people. Despite its ruined condition historians believe that d'Ivry- la- Bataille was an expiration for construction of the Tower of London.
Originally the castle was called Ivry- la- Chaussee. It changed on March 14, 1590 when a famous battle was fought in its vicinity between French king Henry IV and forces of the Catholic League. By the time of the battle the castle was reduced to ruins, but its was still a prominent local feature.



The castle occupies a promontory, north of Dreux, on the edge of the plateau in strong projection which dominates from 70 m the valley of the Eure and the town of Ivry-la-Bataille, constituting a visual control point of the surrounding country. The town, formerly Ivry-la-Chaussée, whose name Ibriacum appears in documentation in the eleventh century, is related to the famous battle of Ivry which opposed the future Henry IV to the troops of the Catholic League, the March 14, 1590.

Due to its location, this fortress defended the south-eastern borders of the Duchy of Normandy, a strategic stake between the crown of France and that of England, on the borders of Normandy and Île-de-France, facing the Pays Chartrain . He watched in particular the bridge which spans the Eure at this place. This lock on the Eure valley, is part of the line of defense where we find the castle of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, that of Gisors, etc.



Researchers believe that the site could have been occupied since ancient times, in correlation with an ancient road linking Évreux to Paris. Archeology has not yet confirmed this hypothesis.

At the end of the 10th century, Richard I of Normandy, given the strategic importance of this important frontier place, entrusted it to his half-brother Raoul d'Ivry. The latter undertook the construction of a large masonry castle structure around the year one thousand (around 960), on the site of a Carolingian aula, with the supposed help of the architect Lanfroy. Orderic Vital in the twelfth century, says that Aubrée had a “famous, enormous and very fortified tower” erected (turris famosa, ingens et munitissima). The fortification would have been ordered by Aubrée (Alberède), wife of Raoul, to a certain Lanfred, architect who had built the castle of Pithiviers. The keep built around the year one thousand is, with the towers of Rouen and Avranches, among the first stone fortifications to appear in Normandy.

Around 1029, Hugues d'Ivry, Bishop of Bayeux, who succeeded his father Raoul on his death around 1015 as Count of Ivry, revolted against Robert I the Magnificent and armed the castle with a French garrison. But the Duke of Normandy recovers the castle and installs a ducal garrison there. Hugues will have to go into exile for a while before being able to return to grace. In 1040, Alberède, natural daughter of Hugues d'Ivry, undertook a new campaign of works on the castle (that of the second third of the 11th century). This character quoted by Guillaume de Jumièges is very real, as opposed to the semi-legendary one of Orderic Vital. Around 1050, a new ducal takeover with William the Conqueror, the title of Count of Ivry disappeared. The castle was then controlled directly by the Dukes of Normandy. Robert II Courteheuse cedes it, around 1089, to Guillaume de Breteuil, great-grandson of Raoul.

In 1119, Louis VI the Fat set fire to the castle. In 1177, the tower was handed over to Henry II Plantagenet. In 1194, Philippe Auguste seized the fortress, during a military campaign in the region. In 1195 following the Treaty of Issoudun, the Château d'Ivry was attached to the royal domain.

During the Hundred Years War, in 1419, commanded by Pierre Dorgessin, the fortress capitulated in May9 to the English after a siege of 40 days. The French, headed by Géraud de la Pallière, a Gascon gentleman in the service of Charles VII, retook it during the summer of 1423 and kept it for a year, using it as a base for raids and worrying Évreux. The English, believing that the recovery of Ivry was becoming a priority, besieged the castle again in June 1424, led by the Duke of Bedford. The place capitulated on July 5, and was returned to them on August 15. Unable to maintain a garrison there, the English undertook the destruction of the upper parts, preferring to destroy the fortress rather than see it fall back into French hands. In 1449, the Constable Jean de Dunois definitively made himself master of the town of Ivry. In 1456, in a confession, mention is made of the state of ruins of the castle “by the occasion of the war […] knocked down and demoulded and put in total destruction. ".

The castle, ruined by the English and having lost all strategic interest, is only mentioned in the estimation of the domain. In 1547, Diane de Poitiers bought the barony of Ivry. In 1567, the castle "which is said to have been demolished by the English during the reign of King Charles VII" was assessed with the warren that surrounds it. In 1740, in an estimate drawn up by an expert by the name of Mouchet, the castle was “drawn to nothing […] it consists only of a few remains of building debris which cannot be used. ".

After its destruction and leveling, the remains, which became a stone quarry and filled with earth, gradually fell into oblivion. Around 1960, only a wooded hill from which a few sections of walls emerge still marks the location of the fortress. It was in 1968 that Robert Baudet, a cabinetmaker in Ivry, undertook, with the archaeological club he had just created, the clearing of the substructures. After twenty years of work, the original ground reappears and the ruins of the castle come out of the ground and will allow in 1990 its classification as historical monuments. The castellologist Jean Mesqui, the English archaeologist, Edward Impey, or the historian of Normandy, Lucien Musset, recognize the interest of the work and publish the first analyzes of the remains, focusing on its oldest parts dating of the year one thousand. From 2007 to 2010, new archaeological excavations, and the re-examination of the ruins, made it possible to clarify the history of the castle.



Three parallel ditches, as well as a fourth deeply cut into the rock on the western flank, isolated the castle from the rest of the plateau; the whole constituting a defensive position in barred spur. A flanked enclosure later doubled the defense. On its eastern flank, the site dominates the village from a height of about fifty meters, which is located at the foot of the hill, along the Eure, around the bridge controlled by the castle.

Begun around 960, the primitive construction is an aula (Carolingian princely hall), a large rectangular construction measuring 32 × 25 meters on each side. At the base of the 3-metre-thick walls, there is a herringbone structure characteristic of Carolingian constructions, as well as the use of brickwork on a few elements, including a buttress. At the end of the 10th century, work turned it into a dwelling-keep, with buttresses, which a priori rose on two levels and included a so-called chapel of Saint-Ursin and a turret.

This imposing ensemble is due, according to legend, to the architect Lanfred (or Lanfroi), who was then beheaded by order of Alberède, wife of Count Raoul.

In the course of the 11th century, the first level of the original castle was rendered blind by the addition of a considerable mass of embankments. Ivry then presents a rectangular plan with in the northeast corner, the apse of the chapel. Such work was probably not undertaken without the approval of the Duke of Normandy, and one could see there the work of William the Conqueror, knowing that there is a clear resemblance between the tower of Ivry and that of London (around 1070), the first would then have served as a model for the second. After the capture of Ivry in 1194 by Philippe Auguste, he razed the western half of the tower and raised the preserved part, transforming it into a kind of "dungeon" which thus lost its residential function, transferred to the barnyard. located further south. The castle will be further refurbished before its capture in 1429 by the troops of Henry V with the addition of a châtelet in front of the main access to the fortress, and probably in the 14th century, reinforced in its northeast corner by a large tower .

Today, all that remains of the square keep, planted at the end of the 11th century opposite the royal domain1, is only the first level.


Protection of historical monuments

The visible parts, as well as the ground of the parcels on which they are located, likely to contain vestiges are classified as historical monuments by decree of February 8, 1990.

Property of the municipality, the site has been the subject of major excavations and is freely accessible all year round.