Château Gaillard – Richard the Lionheart’s Castle

Related Articles

Related Articles

Château Gaillard is a ruined medieval castle, located in the commune of Les Andelys in Normandy France.

Construction of the castle began in 1196 by King Richard I, also known as Richard the Lionheart – who ruled as King of England and held the Dukedom of Normandy, as well as several other territories.

After his succession to England’s throne, Richard spent most of his life crusading or defending his lands in France. History chronicles Richard as a pious hero, but in reality, he was an absentee ruler who used England’s treasury and taxes as a source of revenue to fund his armies and military exploits overseas.


In January 1196, Richard signed a peace treaty called the Treaty of Louviers with King Philip II of France, an agreement to settle the claims of the Angevin Kings of England pertaining to the Manors of Andeli and Louviers in Normandy.

Image Credit : Guillaume Baviere – CC BY-SA 2.0

Under the terms of the treaty, the manor of Andeli in Normandy was to remain unfortified, but Richard chose to ignore the treaty and build Château Gaillard on the Rock of Andeli in response to Philip building castles at Vernon and Gaillon, which Richard argued had violated the treaty.

Richard chose the site for the strategic position the castle would take in filling a gap in the Norman defences left by the fall of Château de Gisors to Phillip in 1193 whilst Richard was imprisoned in Germany, in addition, to act as a frontier base for Richard to launch campaigns in the Norman Vexin (a contested border between the Angevin and French Capetian lands).

Château Gaillard incorporated the latest technological advances in castle warfare, consisting of three enclosures using concentric fortifications and machicolations (a floor opening in the battlements for dropping materials, oil, or boiling water on attackers), separated by dry moats, with an inner keep.

Image Credit : Guillaume Baviere – CC BY-SA 2.0

The total cost of construction has been estimated at around £12,000 (£25,000,000 in today’s monetary value), a considerable expense when you consider that Richard only spent £7,000 on castles across England during his reign as King.

In Richard’s final years before his death (caused by an infected arrow wound to his shoulder whilst besieging Châlus), Château Gaillard served as Richard’s preferred residence where the final writs and charters of his kingship were written.

After Richard’s death, his brother King John of England failed to defend the Duchy of Normandy and territories in France against Philip, resulting in the collapse of the Angevin Empire.

Image Credit : Guillaume Baviere – CC BY-SA 2.0

Philip placed Château Gaillard under siege from 1203 to 1204, but John made no attempt to relieve the castle garrison forcing the defenders to capitulate, allowing the French to enter the Seine valley and take Normandy.

During the Hundred Years’ War (a series of conflicts over the right to rule France between the House of Plantagenet and its cadet House of Lancaster, and the House of Valois from 1337 to 1453), possession of Château Gaillard switched several times, with the castle being taken by the French for the last time in 1449.

Header Image Credit : Roman Geber – CC BY-SA 4.0

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic


Cognitive Elements of Language Have Existed for 40 Million Years

Humans are not the only beings that can identify rules in complex language-like constructions - monkeys and great apes can do so, too, a study at the University of Zurich has shown.

Bronze Age Herders Were Less Mobile Than Previously Thought

Bronze Age pastoralists in what is now southern Russia apparently covered shorter distances than previously thought.

Legio IX Hispana – The Lost Roman Legion

One of the most debated mysteries from the Roman period involves the disappearance of the Legio IX Hispana, a legion of the Imperial Roman Army that supposedly vanished sometime after AD 120.

The Ancient Pyramid City of Túcume

Túcume is an ancient city that is traditionally considered to be the last great capital of the Lambayeque Kingdom, located in the lower valley La Leche River in the Lambayeque Region of Peru.

The Milky Way Galaxy has a Clumpy Halo

University of Iowa astronomers have determined our galaxy is surrounded by a clumpy halo of hot gases that is continually being supplied with material ejected by birthing or dying stars.

Artificial Intelligence Reveals Hundreds of Millions of Trees in the Sahara

If you think that the Sahara is covered only by golden dunes and scorched rocks, you aren't alone. Perhaps it's time to shelve that notion.

Lost and Found: UH Geologists ‘Resurrect’ Missing Tectonic Plate

The existence of a tectonic plate called Resurrection has long been a topic of debate among geologists, with some arguing it was never real.

New Evidence Found of the Ritual Significance of a Classic Maya Sweat Bath in Guatemala

Sweat baths have a long history of use in Mesoamerica. Commonly used by midwives in postpartum and perinatal care in contemporary Maya communities, these structures are viewed as grandmother figures, a pattern that can also be traced to earlier periods of history.

Popular stories

Legio IX Hispana – The Lost Roman Legion

One of the most debated mysteries from the Roman period involves the disappearance of the Legio IX Hispana, a legion of the Imperial Roman Army that supposedly vanished sometime after AD 120.

The Secret Hellfire Club and the Hellfire Caves

The Hellfire Club was an exclusive membership-based organisation for high-society rakes, that was first founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton, and several of society's elites.

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.