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Pontivy

 

Pontivy (Pondi in Breton) is a French commune with 14,606 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017) in the Morbihan department in the Brittany region. It is a sub-prefecture of the arrondissement of the same name, capital of the canton of the same name and seat of the community association Pontivy Communauté.

 

Destinations

Pontivy Castle
The Château de Pontivy (Morbihan), called the Château des Rohan, was built in the 15th and 16th centuries by the de Rohan family. The castle has been registered as a historical monument since October 26, 1925, while the facades, roofs, courtyards and ditches have been classified since December 30, 1953. Property of Josselin de Rohan, the latter has some. donated for a symbolic euro to the city of Pontivy in October 2015.

Construction
An old feudal castle belonging to the Porhoët family is attested in the 12th century along the Blavet, below the current castle4. This “Château des Salles” was besieged in November 1342 by the English troops of Guillaume de Bohain, lieutenant of King Edward III, during the War of Succession. Ruined probably by the assaults he had to sustain, he was abandoned. After this War of Succession, the Viscounts of Rohan decide to make Pontivy the capital of their quasi-principality. In 1456, the site was given to the Cordeliers who built their monastery there. Viscount Jean II de Rohan (Count de Porhoët, son-in-law of Duke François I of Brittany, opposed to Duke François II and governor of Brittany for Charles VIII), wanted to build a new fortress there thanks to the corvée regime. Combining the advantages of a solid fortress, those of a pleasant residence for a cultivated and even refined great lord, he built the current castle between the spring of 1479 and 1485 on a new castle site which probably includes that of John I of Rohan, his great-grandfather: he had a large basin dug on the sides of a hill controlling the main access to the village, set back from Blavet, and which overlooks the town to the east. It was certainly the architect Jean Le Roux who opened the windows at the top of the main facade and those with mullions on the north facade to accompany the Renaissance6. Jean II de Rohan, by building his last military edifice, thus made Pontivy a great fortified town.

In 1488, the fortress was taken and occupied by the troops of the Duke of Brittany François II, opponent of Jean II de Rohan. It returned to the hands of the Rohans in 1490.

The Huguenot reputation of the castle is so well affirmed that in 1572, it accommodates the Protestant provincial synod, the chapel becoming one of the first Protestant temples in France. On December 3, 1589, an army of the League made up mainly of Spanish mercenaries, besieged the castle which capitulated. The chapel finds its original destination.

From 1621, the southern angle was occupied by a terraced construction, foreshadowing the many redevelopments to which the fortress was subject.

Place of the "Breton declaration of independence" of 1940
The castle is the site of the abortive declaration of independence of Brittany when the Breton National Committee was created by members of the Breton National Party in July 1940.

The choice of Pontivy is not trivial, because it is in this city that the last Congress of the Breton National Party should have been held in 1939, which the police had banned. The participants in this meeting are few (around 200 including 80 released prisoners). Many activists are still detained in the camps, others like the painter Paul Durivaut were killed on the battlefields. A few days earlier, Olier Mordrel and Fransez Debeauvais, joined by Marcel Guieysse and Célestin Lainé, met to form this CNB, of which Debeauvais was unanimously elected president. The post of vice-president fell to Olier Mordrel, but this post was abolished by the majority of the members, following a request from Célestin Lainé who did not see its usefulness. This internal intrigue will explain 4 months later changes in the organization of the party and the ousting of Mordrel.

Debauvais, Guieysse and Lainé take turns speaking after Marcel Planiol, the lawyer of the PNB, has recalled the titles of glory of each. Mordrel proclaims the declaration of Pontivy, where it is specified that "The Breton National Council, representative body of the Bretons, concerned about the collective good and the honor of their people, would act at the time chosen by him to endow Brittany with a national state, in its natural setting and in the spirit of its tradition, so that it can finally live as an organized nation, free of its aspirations and master of its interests ”and that“ the international status of the Breton State, the nature of its relations with France and Germany would be defined by agreements, freely discussed within the framework of the possibilities offered by the new general conditions ”. The main objectives of the future Constitution are set out in the “Pontivy Program”, which L'Heure Bretonne is to reproduce in its first issue of July 14, 1940.

 

The castle serves as barracks for Lu Brezhon, embryo of the Breton national army created by the Breton nationalist Célestin Lainé in the wake of the creation of the Breton National Committee in 1940.

Restorations
From 1955 to 1972, the castle was restored under the direction of René Lisch, chief architect of historical monuments. The inauguration of the restored castle, dedicated to temporary exhibitions, took place on May 25, 1972 in the presence of the Duke of Rohan, elected officials from the Breton departments, and the Pontivy municipal council.

70,000 tourists visit the castle each year.

On Friday February 7, 2014, following heavy rainfall due to storm Petra, part of the south curtain collapsed. The castle is closed during the restoration operation launched in June 2016, scheduled for a minimum period of 3 years and a work of 3 million euros: the wall is rebuilt using a reinforced concrete wall covered with a facing. in stones (reuse of original stones still in good condition and rubble from a quarry near Carhaix used in addition); twelve new information panels are installed around. The new development of the castle is carried out in six stages: video mapping operation on the facade; arrangements of the interior courtyard with temporary events, of the public reception area (with bookstore, dining, meeting and relaxation areas, toilets, etc.); paying tour loop on the first floor with permanent scenography and temporary exhibitions; rooms reserved for guided tours and micro-events on the ground floor and in the basement; workshops and project spaces, on the ground floor.

This work is accompanied by preventive archeology operations which reveal in particular two old ovens in the courtyard (the large oven could correspond to a bread oven while the small oven could have been used as a pastry oven).

Architecture
The irregular quadrangular plan (approximately 90 meters by 75 meters) of the castle, flanked by four circular corner towers connected by a curtain 20 meters high, remains traditional. The thickness of the walls reached in places more than 5 meters wide, in order to resist the progress of the artillery and the fire of the guns. The device is of schist up to the Breton machicolations carved in granite. At the first floor of the crenellated and covered walkway, dormers with pointed pediments were added at the beginning of the 16th century. Access to the inner courtyard is via a dormant bridge which replaced the two drawbridges thrown over the moats never put in water. The counterscarp was leveled at the beginning of the 20th century, the earth thus recovered having served to fill the ditch.

Only two main buildings remain, on the west and north sides. The residential wing at the level of the western facade is flanked by two large towers with machicolations, capped in pepperbox, out of the four that probably comprised the enclosure. These towers, instead of trying to protect themselves from the sidewalk by an impressive height, prefer to bury themselves and widen solidly on their bases (60 meters in circumference for the north tower and 48 for the west tower). The two rear towers (the original existence of the fourth tower, to the south-east, is still the subject of questions) which collapsed in the 18th century, were raised in support to prevent further landslides. Several statues of saints (Virgin with the Crescent, of Saint Maurice on horseback, of Saint Catherine, of Saint Germain, of Saint Marguerite, of Saint Isidore, of Saint Louis and of Saint John the Baptist), originating from the Saint-Laurent chapel in Moustoir-Remungol, are exhibited in this gallery.

In addition to this west gallery, the stately home to the north was altered in the 18th century. It is decorated with stepped pediments and a Louis XV style staircase with a double flight and a wrought iron banister. A niche under this staircase of honor houses the statue of Saint-Mériadec (which the Dukes of Rohan claimed) which was made by Daniel Le Vaillant in the 3rd quarter of the 20th century. To the east, the original main building was transformed into an artillery terrace in the 18th century, then a pleasure garden in the 18th century. We visit the guard room, the rooms on the first floor overlooking the rampart walk, the ducal chamber with its beautiful ceiling and the chapel. Note in particular the two polychrome stone fireplaces with a coat of arms, from the 16th century, from the castle of Coët-Candec in Locmaria-Grand-Champ, which threatened to ruin in 1960.

 

Twins, referring to the stones for a long time called "twins", abundant in the Salles de Rohan, are represented in decorative motifs on the walls of the castle of Pontivy, including on the granite downpipes, referring to the twins of the coat of arms of the House of Rohan. At home level, these twins are inscribed in a Saint-Michel necklace and a letter A surmounted by a count's crown, symbol of the Rohan motto “A plus”, that is to say “without more”, "Without superior".

Owners and occupants
The castle belonged to the de Rohan family who stayed there irregularly until the end of the 18th century. Subsequently, "the castle was successively occupied by: the sub-prefecture and the courtroom of the civil court of Pontivy (1800-1839); General Bernadotte, commander-in-chief of the Western Army in charge of fighting the Chouans, who established his headquarters there (May-June 1801); the Sisters of Kermaria, who created a school and boarding school for girls (1841-1884); a Breton museum founded by Jérôme Le Brigand (end of the 19th century); the Saint-Ivy guard (the city's sports club), the scouts of France, a few Pontivyan families housed in the west gallery then divided into several rooms (1st half of the 20th century with an interruption in 1939-1940); during the Second World War: Polish troops then Breton autonomists (June-September 1940) ”.

In 1953, Mme de Rohan leased it to the city of Pontivy with a 99-year emphyteutic lease for a symbolic franc which assumed all the expenses of the owner. The city of Pontivy was then responsible for ensuring the maintenance, restoration and enhancement of the castle, which had just been classified as a historic monument.

In December 2014, in view of the particular context linked to the collapse of the curtain wall and the amount of restorations that the municipality was going to have to support, Duke Josselin de Rohan agreed to sell his property to the city which became the owner on October 16. 2015.