The stories connected to this castle are amazing -- and many are true...
The actual building here probably dates back to the time of Charlemagne's
children. At first a church and then converted into a fortress against
the Viking invasions, the details of this fortress's origins are buried in the
sands of time. Many real historical figures, however, are know to have
lived here. The most famous among these is perhaps Richard the
Lion-Hearted. Richard's mother was the legendary Eleanor of Aquitaine,
born a few miles from here in a village we'll visit later this month.
When Eleanor married the young Louis VII of France, she joined these lands to
the kingdom centered in Paris. Upon one visit to inspect his new lands,
Louis VII was invited here to Talmont -- an especially attractive area and one
whose lord was known for setting false lights along the coast in order to draw
boats toward the rocky shore. There he made his fortune from the
shipwrecks he provoked. In a similar stroke of cunning, he laid a plan
to capture King Louis of France and hold him for ransom. Louis was one
of the most pious of all French kings, but also among the most vindictive.
When he learned of the trap, he arrived with his men and set fire to the whole
of the site. The red hue of these stones was cause by King Louis fire
set in the mid-1100's.