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Castle of Bonaguil


Description of the castle

This transition is extremely interesting to study, and though we had few castles which were built of only one jet during the reign of Charles VII, it is however that we will give here, as well because of its state of conservation as because its system of defense is followed with method in all its parts: it is the castle of Bonaguil.

Located A a few kilometers of Villeneuve-in Agen, this castle is built on a headland which orders a procession. Its plate is that of all the castles of mountain; surround by escarpments, it is accessible only on one side. Here is the plan:

In A is the first entry, provided with a drawbridge and opening in a work advances, kind of weephole or boulevard into 0. It is seen here already that the manufacturers endeavoured to flank this first defense. In R were stables probably. A broad ditch cut in the rock separates the work advanced from the castle, in which one penetrates by a second drawbridge B with door and postern C a keep E, of odd form, orders the outside. The advanced work 0 and ditches.

Out of P are high the apartment buildings at which one arrives by a beautiful spiral staircase J D is the slope which goes up to the elevated door of the keep E In S is a separate work of the castle by the keep. As in Pierrefonds, the keep establishes a separation between two courses. The raised drawbridges, one could be introduced into the castle only by crossing the postern F bored in the external wall of counterguard, while following the bottom of pit N, by crossing one second door G bored in a cross-piece, a third door H giving on a beautiful platform M, by taking staircase I, and passing by a small drawbridge K.

There one found beautiful and broad staircase with stages communicating to the staircase J interior only by one narrow and sinks corridor on which, on the right and on the left, loopholes open. The large staircase goes up only to the ground floor, elevated of the interior court; its cage finishes at its top by a gross square tower in communication with the apartments. It is seen that here, as in the old feudal castles, all the most meticulous precautions were taken to mask the entries and to return them of a difficult access. By the fact, there is only one entry, that A B, the turnings which we have just described being able to be practised only by the familiar ones of the castle and to make exits when need was. But from the provisions, all news then, come to modify the old defensive system; initially the advanced work 0 with the platform M give the projecting considerable ones, which beats the outside with far, and flank the castle on the side where it is accessible from appartment; then with the short-nap cloth of the contrescarpe of the ditches, on the level of the peak of the walls of counterguard, of the embrasures for gun are bored at ground floor in the courtines and the lower stages of the turns; the turns are hardly engaged, for better flanking the courtines. If one judges some by the opening of the doors which give entered the turns, the parts put thus out of battery at ground floor could not be of a large gauge. As for crownings, they are provided with projecting covered ways with machicolation and crenels; but the consoles carrying the parapets of the cylindrical gross tower are not any more simple corbels of 0,30 C at 0,40 C thickness; they are large corbellings, pyramids posed on the point, which resisted the ball better that the supports of the first machicolations. Let us merlons parapets are bored loopholes which obviously indicate, by their provision, the use of weapons has fire of hands.

Here a riding sight of this castle, catch on the side of the entry. One sees, in this figure, that the embrasures intended for artillery with fire are bored in the lower stages of constructions, and follow the declivity of the ground, so as to shave the neighbourhoods. For crownings of the turns, the method adopted in XIVe century is still followed. The transition is thus obvious here, and the problem which the military architects sought to solve in the construction of the fortified towns about the middle of XVe century could be summarized by this formula: "To beat the outside with far, to defend the approaches by a shaving shooting of pieces of ordnance, and to guarantee themselves against the climbing by a command very é1evé, crowned according to the old system for brought closer defense" the keep, covered in terrace and strongly arched, was also made to receive gun at its top, which was justified besides by the accesses which, on a side order the castle.

Under Louis XI, the league of the Public property marked the last effort of the feudal aristocracy to seize again its old power; at that time, much with lords their castles furnished with new defenses appropriate to artillery; these defenses consisted mainly of outer works, in grosses thick and bored towers embrasures to receive gun, out of platforms or boulevards ordering the outside.

The castle of Bonaguil showed to us already how one had sought, about the middle of XVe century, to provide with artillery a feudal residence by certain provisions of detail which actually did not change anything, to the general provisions former at that time. II was not a long time thus, and the lords of the manor recognized, with their costs, that, to protect their feudal residence, it was necessary to plant defenses ahead and independent of the apartment buildings; that it was necessary to extend outwards, on all the projecting points, discovered, in order to prevent the enemy from placing his batteries of seat on some plate ordering the castle.

Text of Eugene Viollet the Duc

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Normandy - France
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